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Report – To confront climate change, we need to democratize, decarbonize, and decommodify our energy resources

Follow-up to recent posting U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – global warming crisis and 10 year ticking clock please see this study via Brookings – Eco-Socialism or Bust – By Thea Riofrancos, Robert Shaw, Will Speck.

“To confront climate change, we need to democratize, decarbonize, and decommodify our energy resources. Broadly, our energy vision should center on the three D’s: decarbonize, democratize, and decommodify. Decarbonizing energy sources requires massive political confrontation with the fossil-fuel industry — a movement currently being led by the frontline communities most impacted by fossil-fuel extraction and its transformation — combined with federal and state-level policies that punish carbon emissions and a regulatory framework that encourages transition to renewable sources. Meanwhile, democratization and decommodification — the collective control of energy distribution that treats energy access as a human right rather than an opportunity for profit — are another point of entry. To achieve these ends, socialists must politicize the grid, and propose alternative visions of ownership and decision-making. In the United States, over two-thirds of electricity users are served by for-profit utilities. These private monopolies are often overseen by state-level energy commissions that are ripe for regulatory capture by Big Energy and the fossil-fuel industry. Even where utilities are publicly owned, technocratic governance structures provide limited fora for public input, let alone real democratic control. Building a bridge toward a socialist energy future requires a vision of a system that removes the profit motive from the delivery of utilities services and establishes energy as a universal human right alongside other basic human needs.

Ultimately, the three D’s of an eco-socialist energy vision are interconnected. If a transition away from fossil-fuel energy sources is absolutely necessary for human and planetary survival, the capitalist status quo of private, for-profit utilities is an obstacle to a sustainable future. Unlike coal, oil, and natural gas, solar and wind power are seasonally variable and unevenly distributed. Collective, democratic control of the energy grid is vital not only to put an end to fuel poverty and ensure that everyone’s basic needs are met, but to reliably combine and redistribute renewable energy sources. Our choices are eco-socialism or barbarism…”

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