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Climate emergency and energy transformation: democracy and law in transition

07 jun 2021 09:00 - 12:45

Workshops organized by Leslie-Anne Duvic-Paoli, Paris IAS Fellow, with the support of the Paris Institute for Advanced Study.

Workshops closed to the public.


This event aims to reflect on the ability of law and public policies to respond to the societal implications of the climate emergency. Taking the form of a dialogue between lawyers, philosophers and political scientists, it aims to think about the foundations and contours of democracy in the context of the climate emergency and related energy reforms.

We are facing both a climatic and democratic crisis. The socio-economic transformations set to occur in the next few years will determine our ability to limit temperature rises in line with the objectives of the Paris Agreement. The climate change problem and the transition to a low-carbon economy are often conceptualised as technological challenges. However, in recent years, the social dimensions of the ecological emergency have emerged more clearly, as was exemplified by the ‘Yellow Vests’ movement in France that emphasized the mistrust of the public vis-à-vis their elected representatives and democratic institutions. These challenges raise fundamental questions of political philosophy on the role of democracy in times of crisis as well as policy and legal questions related to the modalities of public participation in decision-making.


Session 1 – Democracy in danger? Understanding the state of 'climate emergency'

The first session aims to understand the philosophical, legal and political foundations and implications of a permanent state of climate emergency. Climate emergency declarations have multiplied since the first such declaration by the city of Darebin (Australia) in December 2016. However, the concept is ill-defined and its political and legal implications unclear. The questions raised will be as follows:

What is the climate emergency? How did the scientific climate emergency, describing natural phenomena, give rise to a political and legal emergency?

Jana Sillmann, Centre for International Climate Research, Oslo (climate scientist, 'climate extremes')

How should we understand the climate emergency in a democratic framework? Does urgency justify curtailing human rights and increasing governmental powers? What are the risks that the climate emergency and energy transition pose to human rights, including civil and political rights?

Mark Beeson, University of Western Australia (ecological authoritarianism)
David Rossati, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (climate emergency and law)
Céline Spector, SU (political philosophy)

Session 3 – Democratic renewal? Reflections on the contribution of adjectival democracy

‘Environmental democracy’, ‘energy democracy’, ‘green democracy’…: sub-types of democracy are proliferating. How useful is it to qualify democracy with adjectives in the context of the climate emergency? What are the manifestations and legal implications of these sub-types of democracy?

How suited is the concept of ‘environmental democracy’ to respond to the climate emergency?

Emily Barritt, KCL (environmental democracy and law)
Philippe Urfalino, EHESS (political philosophy)

• Does the energy transition call for a different understanding of democracy? What is the added value, or shortcomings, of the concept of ‘energy democracy’?

Gilles Lhuilier, FMSH (extractive energy law, social license to operate)
Pierre Bocquillon, University of East Anglia (public policies for energy democratization)

• What lessons can we learn from other democracies with adjectives (technological, health, etc.)?

Cécile Castaing, Université de Bordeaux (health democracy and law)

Democracy in the global law of energy transitions
01 September 2020 - 30 June 2021
07 Jun 2021 12:45
Leslie-Anne Duvic-Paoli
Seminars and Summerschools