CURE – Conceptualizing and Understanding Resistance against Energy Policy and Technology

During 2019 and 2020 a substantial police force has been engaged in protecting the construction site of a wind-turbine plant from people resisting the implementation, at the small island Frøya in Mid-Norway. The situation is similar at several constructing sites in Norway. The protesters claim they have to bear the cost of the green shift locally while others make profit from it, and that their democratic rights are being violated, among other things. When a Facebook group against wind power was formed, it gained 100 000 members in a week.

An NGO was formed by people resisting the implementation of smart meters in homes claiming health related concerns People resisting toll roads formed their own political party and put their mark on the municipality election in 2019. Innumerable Facebook groups are formed promoting hate towards technology associated with the green shift, such as Tesla and other electric cars (which don’t pay road toll).

All these events, attempts and examples of active resistance to stop energy policy and technology associated with the green shift show that the resistance is heterogeneous and seem to be grounded in many different reasons, concerns and life situations. . Many members left the mentioned Facebook group against wind power when the founders were identified as nationalistic anti-immigrants, but many chose to remain. The politician behind the toll roads policy, Annemarie Lan, has received several death threats. While some protests against energy policy and technology seem to be fair and necessary, extremist and anti-democratic tendencies are also present in these debates, and the amount of hate and confrontation is high. This makes it difficult both to understand and act upon such challenges. Things threatens to spin out of control.

The design and implementation of energy policy faces something much more severe than simply lack of acceptance, it deals with, and stirs up forces that even can threaten democracy itself, not to mention belief in scientific knowledge.

Understanding these forces and this dynamic is essential, not only for the successful design and implementation of energy policy, but for the well-being of democracy itself.

Primary objective:

CURE will examine the phenomenon of active resistance to low-carbon transitons based on a synthesis of studies at micro-, meso- and macro-level and across different technologies and policies. CURE will contribute to the research community by clarifying and demarcating the concept of resistance for operational use. This involves identification of actors, forms, concerns, practices and voices of resistance, as well as, their effects on policy efficiency.

Secondary objective:

Drawing upon the insights gained through the project, CURE aims to (1) develop policy recommendations on how to make low carbon transitions more democratic and responsive to social diversity and vulnerability. (2) CURE will examine and contribute to the public dialogue around low-carbon societies and thus, contribute to the strengthening of the democratic legitimacy of sustainable energy transitions.