The climate crisis requires a global shift away from dependence on fossil fuel energy. Globally, more than 70% of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions must be cut by 2050 to keep global warming well below 2°C. Electricity generation from renewable energy sources will be central to the needed transition, yet expectations of a constant supply of electricity to fuel ever-expanding production, energy security and affordability present challenges to the creation of just and decarbonised futures. While the pace of decarbonisation needs to increase, growth of the sector can, but does not necessarily reconfigure power and hierarchies within and between nations. Renewable energy systems can also pose a threat to societies, nature and planetary health, and have become increasingly scrutinized over issues of mineral extraction, financialisation, infrastructural expansions or waste disposal. While low- carbon energy transitions are presented as crucial to counter fossil fuel dominance, they too can (and have) become entangled into neo-colonial ambitions and growth imperatives. This raises important questions about the potential political landscapes of a post-fossil fuel era. Which futures are made possible by low-carbon energy production, and which are foreclosed? What comprises ‘successful’ energy systems – and for whom? As the world moves towards post-fossil and low-carbon futures, how can anthropology and the social sciences contribute to the making of just and sustainable futures?
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