Browse

You are looking at 1 - 10 of 1,124 items for :

  • Environment and Sustainability x
Clear All

This article presents the results of research conducted between 2021 and 2023 by the Albertine Rift Conservation Society (ARCOS) with 240 partners including teachers, learners and parents in six Rwandan schools. A relational knowledge co-creation methodology was used to gain a shared understanding of education and climate change challenges in the schools and co-create solutions using the Eco-Schools problem-based learning pedagogy. The knowledge co-creation processes revealed a negative relationship at the intersection between climate change and quality education which is interrupting successful implementation of both the Competence-Based Curriculum (CBC), and the School Feeding Programme policies of the Government of Rwanda, affecting national progress towards SDG 4 and SDG 13. However, by integrating climate action projects in the CBC, with practical skills and knowledge from parents and wider community members, education barriers caused by poor school conditions, and poor nutrition, health and comfort of learners are being removed, while the quality and relevance of teaching and learning in schools is being improved. The article therefore proposes the Eco-Schools programme as a potential means of simultaneously addressing the UN’s ‘triple crisis’ of inclusion, quality and relevance. Ultimately, by showing that it is possible to transform education in even the most challenged schools, at a relatively low cost, within a very short space of time (one school year) and without large-scale curriculum reform or infrastructure, the findings of this research promote wider, faster and more optimistic progression toward the UNESCO’s ‘Reimagining Education’ vision and the Greening Education Partnership targets.

Open access

The notion of the Anthropocene has become a popular (and contested) term to describe the times we live in; among other things, it alerts us to the damage mainstream Western-centred anthropocentrism has wreaked on nature: in so doing, the Anthropocene signals that for life as we know it to continue, a more sustainable relationship with nature must be urgently implemented.

The article will discuss a project that emerged as part of a teacher education programme in the UK where selected insights elaborated by Donna Haraway have been used to inform a Bee Hotel project. The resulting ‘Harawayan’ Bee Hotel (HBH) was used as a catalyst to help trainee teachers to both blend climate education into the standard curriculum to be delivered during their placements and, importantly, to introduce them to a new conceptualisation of nature. Specifically, trainee teachers were presented with, and encouraged to integrate into their teaching practices, a vision of nature that recognises and respects its uniqueness, agency and worth, and that accepts that some level of ecological instrumentalisation and destruction is necessary for human life.

The article will argue that the HBH acts as a microcosm where it is possible to forge and practice, for both present and future generations, an ethics that encourages the establishment of a respectful relationship with nature, facilitating the meeting of SDGs and offering the thinking tools to go beyond them.

Open access

While education is expected to play a significant role in responding to global social challenges, sustainable development discourses often fail to attend to issues of pedagogy, purpose and process. In this paper, we argue that one way to focus arguments on educational practice is through considerations of the relationship between education as justice and education for justice. We do this through discussing one form of justice in education – epistemic justice – and developing our conceptualisation of an epistemic core. Drawing on Elmore’s instructional core, this includes openness to students’ experiences and the place where they live, rich pedagogies and a broad range of epistemic resources. We argue that this is one way that secondary education’s contribution to sustainable and just futures could be made more concretely possible.

Open access

The book closes by discussing lessons for policy and research from the dramatic Portuguese experience. The chapter revisits two talks on energy transitions governance at the United Nations, in New York and Geneva. It juxtaposes these grand settings with two stark memories from fieldwork: weeks spent in an eco-community in 2017, and a conversation with two of Portugal’s earliest household rooftop solar adopters in 2023. The former memory includes a solar-powered kitchen helping to cook for 50 people daily in a rural social innovation setting with little government support. The latter discussion features the claim from experienced interlocutors that the future of solar in Portugal is primarily large-scale. With community energy initiatives mired in bureaucracy, tariffs during peak production hours are being hollowed out, with only bigger players with energy flexibility able to benefit by trading. This contrasts with the gathering of European delegates pushing for an efficient, decentralized, clean energy system. Here lies the challenge: accepting the empirically plausible reading that large solar wins the day makes it even more likely. The chapter probes whether a middling path is the pragmatic compromise. As the sun rises in Portugal, will a just solar energy transition dawn?

Open access

The chapter addresses the highly political nature of the energy sector by explaining the dilemma confronting the Portuguese government in 2017. The Socialist Party-led coalition that came into power in 2015 (and was re-elected in 2019 and 2022) faced a quandary despite its pro-renewable energy stance, that poorly designed wind energy contracts had given renewables a bad name and subsidizing solar energy was deemed politically infeasible. The chapter explains how institutional restructuring, political gumption and an ambitious vision of energy transitions led to Portugal setting two world records through its solar energy auctions in 2019 and 2020. It emphasizes the importance of considering solar installations at multiple spatial scales, to enable a more equitable distribution of benefits, burdens and ownership. This narrative culminates in the July 2023 announcement by the Portuguese government to achieve 20.4 gigawatts of solar installed capacity by 2030, nearly similar to its total installed capacity for electricity in 2021. This leads to the central question of the book: will the sun rise to such great heights in Portugal, and in doing so will it take people along in just ways? The challenge is contextualized through comparison to broader global solar energy development trends.

Open access

This chapter lays out the aims and scope of the book. It explains how an empirical scientist can study contemporary trends to offer deep insights into a societal context. Like all the book chapters, it begins with a vignette. This one is drawn from a National Roadmap for Carbon Neutrality roadshow meeting in Faro, the capital of Portugal’s Algarve region. It conveys a sense of the challenge of researching a complex sociotechnical sector such as energy in Portugal, and explains fieldwork techniques applied over seven years. A personal note evokes human interest to offer an overview of multi-sited, multi-scalar fieldwork. This orientates non-academic readers, and offers grounding for claims to academic readers, embedded in important details that introduce all readers to the sociocultural context. The chapter provides an overview of the variety of stakeholders engaged with to understand the challenge of solar energy transition in Portugal. It explains the choices made to unpack issues of relevance to urgency, justice and scalar aspects of Portugal’s solar energy transition – what kind of spatial patterning is unfolding, and with what sociopolitical implications for energy justice?

Open access

The chapter fleshes out details on the political economy of solar energy and Portugal’s energy transition more broadly while exiting the worst excesses of the economic recession. Austerity politics was giving way to neoliberalization through golden visa programmes and other efforts to attract foreign investment to an ailing economy and cash-strapped public sector. The chapter situates the challenge for a newly formed ministry in this predicament of growing solar energy to meet climate mitigation urgency, while walking the fiscal policy tightrope and public backlash risk linked with any subsidies to a politicized renewable energy sector. The chapter takes the reader to what was being built as the world’s then-largest solar plant in 2008, in the Alentejo plains of Moura where a mayor dreamt of local solar jobs and temporarily achieved some semblance of that dream. The chapter adds an appreciation of the sociocultural context where the Portuguese are famously risk-averse, evident in having gone slowly with solar energy transitions despite high rates of irradiation. It ends with a ride across the glorious bridge over the Tagus river into Lisbon, the solar city where many key decisions have been made for this energy transition. It underscores uncertainty before everything exploded.

Open access

Portugal’s 2019 solar auctions went below a third of the average annual tariff on the Iberian peninsula’s wholesale electricity market. This chapter describes the intense dynamics among stakeholders. As costs continued to plummet and disrupt the electricity generation sector, Portugal set solar world records. Sober commentary from energy analysts followed, with scepticism over the feasibility of projects with such low profit margins, and fear that many delays and failed projects could burst the shiny bubble. Yet others rejoiced, as finally unsubsidized solar seemed to have come of age, with multinational corporations investing in Portugal’s ambitious venture. The ministry declared that cost-competitive solar energy would play a crucial role in alleviating energy poverty, a policy priority that emerged. This chapter captures the mixed feelings and charged emotions as the country began to enact its ambitious vision of decarbonizing electricity and electrifying many sectors to achieve a low-carbon transition among the most ambitious in Europe. By late 2019, the national elections had kept a Socialist Party-led coalition in power, and brought climate change onto the mainstream political agenda across parties. The stage was set for ambitious cross-sectoral policies to enter messy implementation.

Open access

Extraordinary circumstances slowed down global supply chains and plant installation, but there was also some room for cheer, as the last of Portugal’s coal thermal plants went offline in Sines. This opened up massive transmission capacity on a high-voltage line for solar generation. The chapter reflects on the changing economic prospects for Portugal during this stressful period, while the recovery and resilience plan was being hashed out with the European Commission and uncertainty loomed large. With the advent of increased work-from-home, and later the energy crisis, energy poverty gained greater policy primacy, which shaped future solar energy debates. The chapter mainframes the valuation of the electricity distribution grid which throughout this period remained up for renewal of concessions. The digitalizing electric grid is a key asset for an electricity system increasing renewable energy in its mix, as storage services become critical for energy flexibility with more solar energy penetration on the grid. Yet little changed in municipalities exercising their right in this regard, as the incumbent electricity distribution system operator continued in this role. The chapter discusses the balance between slow and fast emergencies, and shows how the latter have dominated governance of Portuguese energy transitions.

Open access

Like many collective self-consumption and renewable energy community projects, the Eurosolar4All pilot project in Almada has been slowed by bureaucracy, notably by the executive authority – Portugal’s Directorate General for Energy and Geology. The chapter presents visits to this site and its first rooftop solar installation, then draws upon insights from multiple community energy projects in Portugal, and emergent trends where multiple models have mushroomed up. This ranges from the country’s first solar cooperative Coopérnico to the community-led Viver Telheiras in Lisbon, and Smile Sintra and a kindergarten installation in Cascais west of the capital. The chapter discusses the emergence of companies such as Cleanwatts and Greenvolt, which deploy techno-economic models as intermediaries that can enable benefits for households while handling the technicalities for some revenue share. It unpacks interviews with energy advisors at ministries and the national regulator, to pose the troubling question of whether the legislative changes to enable community energy were more a public legitimation device than a sincere intent backed by reasonable will to implement. An industry association official argues that the finance ministry’s unwillingness to invest in human resource capacity-building has cost Portugal dearly by withholding the benefits of multi-scalar solar deployment.

Open access