Low carbon governance: Mobilizing community energy through top-down support?
Community energy makes an important contribution to sustainable energy generation, reduction and management, and is a desirable feature of a low carbon future. Renewable community energy is increasingly gaining momentum even in the centralized UK energy market. The challenge of low carbon transitions is faced by multiple territorial governments, and requires inclusive governance arrangements in which a combination of actors work together to implement community strategies towards a climate-resilient future. Low carbon governance is a multi-level and (co-)evolving process, especially in the complex interactions between actors of the core, inner periphery and civil periphery. The devolution of power within the UK has enabled Scotland to establish an ambitious policy agenda for renewable energy. By exploring an established national community energy programme, this study examines the interplay among different actors and looks into how multi-level governance can be strengthened. This paper combines multi-level and evolutionary governance theory to understand the extent to which top-down initiatives facilitate community renewable energy projects and help drive wider system transformations. It concludes that in an evolving policy environment, top-down support for community energy is a necessary motivator. This requires the state to play a dominant role in directing low carbon transitions, while acting in concert with non-state, local and regional actors. If communities are to benefit from energy transitions, wider policies must be aligned with community needs, otherwise community energy will be pushed to the margins of the next energy revolution. Copyright©2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment
Journal Title/Title of Proceedings
Environmental Policy and Governance
Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment. This is the accepted version of the above article, which has been published in final form at http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/eet.1722.