IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - January/February 2018 - 72

concerns of affected communities and
individuals? This is much less certain.
What, for example, is the best way to
bring those concerned
around the same table,
without the process being hijacked by well-organized pressure groups?
What mechanisms work
best, well-established
methods such as surveys
and interviews, combined
with public dialogues
and debates, or new ones
based largely on social
media? How should consultative mechanisms relate to elected
assemblies and political representatives,
who will make the final decisions on the
measures considered (or should this be
done via public referenda)? Finally, how
should businesses and private enterprises
go about citizen engagement, over and
above their customary engagement with
customers to improve the quality of services and products?
Most areas of energy research and
innovation struggle with these kinds of
questions, all the more so when novel
technologies and solutions make the
leap from laboratory to marketplace and
therefore society (which is why Horizon
2020, the EU-sponsored research framework program, treats the social sciences
and humanities as a cross-cutting priority). Yet there is a further frontier: that

of energy poverty. Indisputably, when
living standards fall due to rising energy
prices or falling incomes and livelihoods
are endangered by shifts
from one energy source
to another, the effects can
be profoundly disempowering for consumers
and citizens alike. Although it would be unfair
to blame all of this on
the clean-energy transition-retooling the current energy system running on dirty, polluting
fossil fuels would require
almost as much investment as switching
to a new, decarbonized one-it is clear
that the corrosive effects of energy poverty, on individuals, regions, even national polities, need more attention.
One way to confront energy poverty
is to raise social benefits for vulnerable
individuals and families (which, in the
European Union, is the prerogative of
the member states). But this may not be
enough to meet the multiple challenges
faced by regions still heavily dependent
on fossil-fuel-based industries or the
extraction of fossil fuels themselves.
What these regions need are comprehensive, multistakeholder strategies in
which governments, the private sector, and civil society work together to
counter the decline of key industries
and the corresponding threat to indi-

So much is
known, but
how do we
make citizen
engagement
better?

Are You
Moving?

vidual and collective livelihoods. Far
from preserving economic models that
have become obsolete, these strategies
need to make the most of the many opportunities inherent in the clean-energy
transition, helping to develop new lines
of business, raising overall competitiveness, and thus creating new livelihoods.
Devising ways to reach these goals
remains a challenge for decision makers and their constituencies but, also and
perhaps, especially for researchers. In the
absence of well-thought-out strategies,
outward migration is set to continue,
with the risk of further fueling economic
decline but also the spread of populist
ideologies, with ill effects on social and
political cohesion, even democratic stability. "Empowering" carbon-intensive
regions and their citizens therefore isn't
just about livelihoods and economic
well-being, much less about "consuming." It is about demonstrating that modern, democratic states-acting alone or
in the context of intergovernmental or
supranational organizations-can devise
solutions to pressing societal problems
that find the backing of broad popular
majorities and that they are reaching out
to those in need of special support.

Acknowledgment
This article reflects the views of the author and not those of his employer, the
European Commission.
p&e

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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - January/February 2018

Contents
IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - January/February 2018 - Intro
IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - January/February 2018 - Cover1
IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - January/February 2018 - Cover2
IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - January/February 2018 - Contents
IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - January/February 2018 - 2
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IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - January/February 2018 - Cover3
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