Benjamin Sovacool talks about how he didn’t want to get involved in energy, but Professor Richard hearse kidnapped him into the field, but only after Benjamin’s car was broken into and all of his research stolen. He also goes into detail about the benefits and challenges of scholarly multidisciplinary collaboration and ongoing training for researchers.
About the AuthorDr. Michael LaBelle is an associate professor at Central European University. He holds a joint appointment between the Department of Environmental Sciences and Policy and the Department of Economics and Business. He founded the MyEnergy2050 website to change how we communicate and implement the energy transition.
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By Michael LaBelle — 1 year ago
Recently, different things I’ve been reading came together to force me to question what is an equitable energy transition. I cover a view from the 1970s. I bring in Ivan Illich, Kurt Vannegut and apply some recent concepts from Amartya Sen on equity. The result in an examination of the limitations of the Earth and the inequality within our social and energy system. I pursue a line of thought around the limits to our time on Earth and the carrying capacity of the Earth.
The purpose is to prompt some thoughts on what is an equitable energy transition and the time it takes to implement. Please consider the work here a draft of thoughts rather than a definitive position I am taking. There is a lot of concepts and connections that need to be clarified and made. Nonetheless, we all have to begin to thinking along new lines at some point. So here is where I begin to redefine and address what a just energy transition is.
By Michael LaBelle — 10 months ago
This week we speak with Ed Vine, who made his career at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, working on assessing and improving energy efficiency policies, technologies and programs.
He is an early pioneer in the area of improving how people use energy. He received his PhD from the University of California Davis. Ed provides us with a big picture of change over time.
In fact, we have a wide-ranging discussion on many topics with lots of twists and turns. But as you’ll hear is a fascinating discussion we have on how energy technologies and policies have changed over time.
One of the areas we discussed is when solar was just getting its feet in California, and being experimented with by hobbyists and the challenges of integrating it into buildings and the electricity system itself.
Now in California, solar is mandated into new buildings, we discussed the shift from producing energy, like solar or wind to technologies that save and prevent energy from being used.
As long career provides us with an exciting look at how we move from policies to build nuclear power plants, up and down the Pacific Coast, to phasing out coal power plants and promoting high energy efficiency standards around the world.
Ed’s PhD is in ecology, and we discussed the benefits of a multidisciplinary perspective and bringing together a multidisciplinary team. This includes tackling problems highlighted by the Sustainable Development Goals, and was also part of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.
We discuss energy cultures, which includes how we design homes, how people use their homes, and how social norms influence consumption habits. We discussed the impact women have on improving air quality, which results in fewer people going to the hospital. By understanding the impact of gender in the energy system, lives can be saved and improved. As you will hear, we do cover a lot of ground.
By Michael LaBelle — 3 months ago
This week we speak with Ana Stojilovska, an energy poverty researcher, who just received her PhD from Central European University, Department of Environmental Sciences and Policy.
And full disclosure before we get going. Michael was Ana’s PhD supervisor.
Ana’s research really goes to the heart of the divisions in Europe around energy poverty. Her thesis, ‘Synergies between heating and energy poverty – the injustice of heat’ tackles how people attempt and afford to heat their homes in North Macedonia and Austria. Her research shows two widely different approaches to assisting – or not – people to heat their homes. She really underscores the role that state institutions play in setting the price of heat, but also assisting homeowners to pay their bills.
As you’ll her from our discussion, the right to heat emerges as a fundamental human right. We first get into Ana’s questioning why her family only heated one room when she was growing up in Skopje. This may sound odd to some, but for many families in former Communist countries, this is still a common practice today.
She decided to pursue a PhD after she was spurred on by her NGO experience and after receiving a Masters in European Studies. Seven years ago, she applied to CEU’s PhD program. And, as they say, the rest is history. For the past six years, Michael and Ana have been working together.
Ana has been a great inspiration for learning new research methods – like phoning up thousands of people in Vienna. As you’ll hear, Ana has a sincere dedication to her research. And for anyone that reads one of her five or six articles she’s published while doing her thesis, there is great depth to her data collection. The outcome of her research is: Energy poverty is representative of deeper misalignments in state institutions and it is the people who bear the social and economic cost of state failures.