Revisiting Renewable Energies: Liberating, Pacifying, and Democratizing

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We all know that renewable energies are important for environmental reasons. However, recent developments should open our eyes to the fact that they are even more critical for sustainable development. In this commentary, we argue that societal benefits should be included in renewable energy decisions. Specifically, we discuss their contributions to freedom, peace, and democracy.
Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has moved the broader societal, economic, and political relevance of renewable energies to the forefront of international attention. Of particular geopolitical concern is the resource dependency of many European economies on Russian oil and gas exports, resulting in implications for financial flows, power structures in industry and society, and the stability of democracies. So far, however, academic debates on the importance of renewable energies in society have predominantly focused on combatting climate change and pressing environmental issues such as urban air pollution.
Here, we argue that a broader conceptualization of renewable energies is needed. Our commentary highlights key societal issues that result from fossil fuels: the centralization of power within countries, power imbalances between countries, and capital flows to political systems. Next, we examine the potential of renewable energies in addressing these issues, specifically their contributions to freedom (freeing society from the grip of fossil fuels), peace (avoiding continuous capital flow to political systems), and democracy (shifting the roles of consumer and producer).
Original languageEnglish
JournalBusiness and Society
Number of pages7
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2023

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