There is no singular understanding of the call for energy democracy. The term clearly evokes a desire for collective control over the energy sector, counterposed with the dominant neoliberal culture of marketisation, individualisation and corporate control. Energy democracy is concerned with shifting power over all aspects of the sector – from production to distribution and supply, from finance to technology and knowledge – to the energy users and workers. Movements deploying the concept of energy democracy also demand a socially just energy system, meaning universal access, fair prices and secure, unionised and well-paid jobs. They want an energy system that works in the public interest, with the profit motive giving way to social and environmental goals. And they seek a transition from high to low carbon energy sources, ultimately meaning a world powered entirely by renewable energy. We would like to suggest the following key principles for further exchanges and discussions.
UNIVERSAL ACCESS AND SOCIAL JUSTICE
Everybody should be guaranteed access to sufficient and affordable energy. Some 1.6 billion people – or 20% of the world’s population – do not have regular access to electricity, and the number of people who cannot pay their energy bills is increasing. Energy poverty and the location of fossil fuel mining and production sites disproportionately affect marginalised communities, including people of colour and indigenous populations. Reducing energy consumption and ending poverty must go hand in hand. The energy system should prioritise the needs of communities, households and marginalised people.