Fair Energy Transition for All: FETA Project

Image from the FETA website

In this post I would like to take a quick look at the project FETA, Fair Energy Transition for All.

Energy Transition

Energy transition refers to the move towards carbon neutral energy production, and the concept under discussion is how this transition process can be made as fair as possible for the largest number of people.

How could it not be fair? We might ask this question, but we might come up with some simple suggestions: the transition is going to cost money, tax money and consumer money, and this added expense is not going to be felt equally across the population (we are talking about Europe here). If a government adds a cost (to use a current example) to the price of electricity in order to fund wind generation, this extra cost represents a different percentage of disposable income for different groups. If you spend 2% of your income on electricity it might not be noticeable, but if you spend 20% then it certainly will.

The current crisis with energy costs has already demonstrated the fragility of a population that relies on power for heat and electricity in any form, and any transition tax applied a year ago will today both raise more money and put more strain on poorer households. And subsidies for insulating houses, buying new white goods or towards the cost of an electric car require outlay on the part of the consumer, which means that it excludes those without access to such funds. And that says nothing about the skills needed to navigate the bureaucracy

Adding charges to bills and subsidising energy efficient purchases is a top down approach though, decisions taken by governments and energy company bosses (my rather cynical interpretation coming out here), but this is a a problem that FETA aims to address.

Some thoughts from the website:

For the energy transition to take place, policy measures need to be put in place that will have an impact on housing, energy, transport and other aspects of our everyday lives. However, the impacts of climate policies, such as rising fuel taxes or the closure of coal mines, affect socially and economically disadvantaged groups the most. This leads to economic and social conflicts: many people feel alienated by climate change policies, which they perceive as elitist issues, and they feel that the elites are out of touch with their lives and are not aware of their interests.

For climate action to be successful, widespread public acceptance is needed. European and national policy-makers need to develop climate change policies that everyone can relate to and benefit from! Policy-makers should listen to those whose voices are being left out of the current debate and include them in the policy and communication process. That is the only way in which a fair energy transition can be achieved – for all!

All of which boils down into three main questions:

  • How can the EU and its member states prevent climate policies from hitting the pockets of poorer households the hardest?
  • How can policies be designed so that everyone has an equal opportunity to enjoy the benefits of the energy transition?
  • How can the energy transition be combined with social justice?

To find answers, the project is conducting public participation events that involve 1000 participants in 90 focus groups spread across Europe, while the Bassetti Foundation (our funding partner) is working on policy proposals by running some expert workshops in Italy. The aim is to better understand the emotions, fears, views and needs of vulnerable people with regards to the energy transition and its current and potential impact on their living conditions, in order to provide input to national and European policy-makers, researchers and stakeholders to help them develop fair energy transition policies and enhance the communication with the target group.

The website offers more information and is well designed and really easy to follow.

Just down our street at Technology Bloggers we might say.

A Joint Statement from the Editors, Christopher Roberts and Jonathan Hankins

After a long and fruitful informal collaboration, the Bassetti Foundation and Technology Bloggers have decided to formalize their relationship with a funding agreement.

From 1 November 2020 the Bassetti Foundation will cover the blog’s domain name and hosting costs. This is a fantastic agreement for all parties involved, as it guarantees funding for the continuation of the site while still leaving options open for other partnerships in-line with our values.

As regular readers will know, co-editor Jonny has been working with the Bassetti Foundation for many years, supporting their aim to promote responsibility in innovation. The blog and the Foundation released a joint pamphlet in 2012 based upon a series on the blog called Can We Improve The Health Of The Planet?, an early sign of what was to become an enduring relationship. As editors, we understand and share the goals and aims as well as the values that the Foundation stands for, and the mutual respect and trust offered in return is appreciated and valued.

As editors and authors, we try to highlight underappreciated positive projects/organizations in the world, and promote what we see as technological developments that aim to improve the lives of everybody across the planet.

Jonny started writing for the blog in July of 2011, 3 months after Christopher founded it, and while there has never been a policy on topic areas, the site has developed a view on technology and science and the environment thanks to our shared interests and similarity in positions.

Jonny was new to blogging and Christopher offered him the necessary experience, technological skills and platform to engage with a new audience on matters of ethics and some of the broader implications of technological development.  In return Jonny offered expertise in the rapidly developing field of Responsible Innovation.

Education and critical thinking are fundamental goals for both of us, we share a passion for communication, for enthusing people with the possibilities that the future holds while highlighting the social and ethical aspects of what this might all mean.

We have both learned a lot working together and editing the website over the last (almost) ten years. We benefit from the fact that we both have different expertise, both technical and philosophical. We have influenced each other’s thinking and paths, opened new opportunities and developmental possibilities.

The blog was originally conceived the as a community technology blog, and in its early years a range of posts from other writers were published, but recently the posts have all come from the editors ourselves. This reflects our coming to a shared position on technology and science, the blog follows a shared line and has its own identity, which seems to pay off. Readers seem to share our passions, and having had consistently healthy traffic figures since the blog started, we are sure we are having the desired impact.

We try to put all of this into practice, as we both believe that “we must be the change we wish to see in the world”.

We would like to thank the Bassetti Foundation, all of our readers and contributors and look forward to continuing our fruitful (and enjoyable) relationships with you all.

Editors Christopher Roberts and Jonathan Hankins.

Part 5, Responsible Innovation in Italy: The Bassetti Foundation

The Bassetti Foundation

The Bassetti Foundation has long been a leader in the field of Responsible Innovation. Founded in 1993, the foundations has dedicated its website, experts and funding capacities to promote the idea of Responsible Innovation. To put that into context, they were probably the first to use this type of terminology, and for many years a search for the term on the Internet led only to their website.

I have been collaborating with the foundation since 2003, so the book tells an insider story. Chapter 4 of my book Responsible Innovation, a Narrative Approach is dedicated entirely to the work and development of the foundation as it stands today.

The chapter contains an interview with President Piero Bassetti, in which he discusses a broad swathe of questions about responsibility in innovation. How can we define responsibility? How can we decide what is right and what is wrong? What is the role of politics (and politicians) in innovation? Who are innovators responsible to? How can we deal with unknown (and unknowable) risk? Just to name a few!

This chapter also introduces Bassetti’s concept of Poiesis-intensive Innovation. This concept addresses forms of innovation that are not science or investment heavy, but are born through knowledge of how to do things (skills) and are driven by goals that differ from those commonly thought of or analyzed in mainstream innovation or business studies (aiming for beauty, or being directed by certain beliefs or philosophies for example).

This concept is not easy to understand, but if we imagine an innovation process that is driven by craft approaches rather than rational investment approaches we are getting close to the idea.

These forms of innovation occur in workshops or sheds, and is not based within mass production or necessarily have that as a goal, allowing creativity to take the lead. This is a core argument for this book, because the main question asked is how similar (or different) are innovation practices in a workshop to those in a laboratory? We will come this in later chapters as I describe experience in both types of workplace.

The Bassetti chapter closes with an analysis of the minutes taken from one of the first foundation meetings. The details that emerge show how forward thinking those present were, as many of the potential problems and issues that innovation brings today were forseen 20 years ago, with questions raised about how they might be addressed.

But I don’t want to spoil the experience and give too much away, it’s all in the book.