This PSIRU report, commissioned by EPSU, highlights the many failures of liberalisation – prices have increased for consumers by as much as double in the past 10 years, a quarter of jobs have been lost in the energy sector, and public monopolies have been replaced by powerful private cartels – and also offers alternatives for the future.
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The term “remunicipalization” has become associated with a global trend to reverse the privatization wave that swept many countries—both industrialized and developing—in the 1980s and 1990s. In particular, remunicipalization processes in the energy sector have the potential to create significant momentum in combating climate change. What is behind these developments?
Diversifying Public Ownership. Constructing Institutions for Participation, Social Empowerment and Democratic Control (by Andrew Cumbers)
This paper advocates a form of economic democracy based around diverse forms of public ownership. It does not prioritize one particular scale but recognizes the importance of decentralized forms of public ownership, to encourage greater public participation and engagement, mixed with higher level state ownership, for strategic sectors and planning for key public policy goals (e.g. tackling climate change). It takes a deliberately pluralistic definition of public ownership, recognizing both state ownership and the role that cooperatives and employee ownership could play in a more democratic economy.
This chapter gives an account of remunicipalisations in the German energy sector, and is divided into two main parts. The first section discusses the different factors enabling remunicipalisation. The second section turns to the politics and strategies behind two remunicipalisation cases in Hamburg, contrasting a more consensual and top-down variant of remunicipalisation with one that involved more conflictual public mobilisation and direct democracy.
The Group of Seven (G7) is an informal grouping of seven of the world’s advanced economies consisting of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The forum offers an opportunity for G7 Leaders, Ministers and policy makers to come together each year to build consensus and set trends around some of today’s most challenging global issues.
From state to system: Financialization and the water-energy-food-climate nexus (by Jeremy J. Schmidt, Nathanial Matthews). The water-energy-food-climate nexus has risen rapidly in global water governance over the past decade. This article examines the role of global financial networks in articulating the nexus and in connecting it to sustainability programs. It provides new insights into critical engagements with the nexus that, to date, have focused predominantly on water security and governance.
Why, in a world awash with “idle capital” and in desperate need of a just energy transition to a renewables-based system, are global investment levels in renewable energy so out of sync with climate targets? The previous TUED Working Paper #9, Energy Transition: Are We Winning?, raised in passing the serious investment deficit in renewable energy, in the context of a broader examination of overall trends in the global energy system and greenhouse gas emissions. This paper looks at the investment question directly and in detail.
The report provides the most comprehensive independent assessment of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In recent decades, the combination of neoliberal ideology, corporate lobbying, business-friendly fiscal policies, tax avoidance and tax evasion has led to a massive weakening of the public sector and its ability to provide essential goods and services.
Financing renewable energy: Who is financing what and why it matters (by Mariana Mazzucato, Gregor Semieniuk). Successful financing of innovation in renewable energy (RE) requires a better understanding of the relationship between different types of finance and their willingness to invest in RE. We study the ‘direction’ of innovation that financial actors create. Focusing on the deployment phase of innovation, we use Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) data to construct a global dataset of RE asset finance flows from 2004 to 2014. We analyze the asset portfolios of different RE technologies financed by different financial actors according to their size, skew and level of risk. We use entropy-based indices to measure skew, and construct a heuristic index of risk that varies with the technology, time, and country of investment to measure risk. We start by comparing the behavior of private and public types of finance and then disaggregate further along 11 different financial actors (e.g. private banks, public banks, and utilities) and 11 types of RE technologies that are invested in (e.g. different kinds of power generation from solar radiation, wind or biomass). Financial actors vary considerably in the composition of their investment portfolio, creating directions towards particular technologies. Public financial actors invest in portfolios with higher risk technologies, also creating a direction; they also increased their share in total investment dramatically over time. We use these preliminary results to formulate new research questions about how finance affects the directionality of innovation, and the implications for RE policies
In this ninth TUED working paper, authors Sean Sweeney and John Treat document the recent claims of the optimistic, “green growth” narrative; examine the evidence frequently used to legitimize and sustain it; and then consider this evidence in context of the broader trends in the global energy system, drawing on a range of major recent data sources. What the paper’s analysis shows is that, unfortunately, the world is not “moving away from fossil fuels”; far from it. The recent “we are winning” optimism is misplaced, misleading, and disarming. It must therefore be rejected, and replaced with a more sober perspective that draws hope and confidence not from a selective and self-deceiving interpretation of the data, but from the rising global movement for climate justice and energy democracy, armed with clear programmatic goals and a firm commitment to achieve them.
Public Services International has published a report on the dangers of the agreement for the action plan against climate change adopted at the COP 21 climate conference at the end of 2015. TiSA Versus Climate Action: Trading Away Energy Democracy reports that “since TiSA talks define any and all activity related to energy—from exploration to distribution—as ‘energy related services,’ including government procurement, ERS would effectively extend over energy and climate policy the global trade rules that prioritize private investment and export expansion above all other public interests.”
Apr 2016, David Hall. The possibility of a return to public ownership of the UK energy system has increased since Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader of the Labour party. This paper sets out the advantages of public ownership; the extent of public ownership in other countries; how the process of returning to the public sector could work in the UK – taking full account of EU law; and calculates realistic estimates of the cost, the possible impact on debt, and the scale of the benefits.