Who participates in and drives collective action initiatives for a low carbon energy transition?

August Wierling, Jan Pedro Zeiss, Wit Hubert, Chiara Candelise, Jay Sterling Gregg, Valeria Jana Schwanitz

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review


Broad acceptance by and support from the society for the sustainable energy transition is indispensable. Public participation and ownership - in particular through collective action initiatives - is seen as a means to foster this support. Starting with the origin of the cooperative model, we present how it has been evolving until today. We then discuss how energy CAIs are classified and discuss the legal underpinnings and how they related to democratic participation of the membership within CAIs. Statistical analysis with data from Sweden, Denmark, and Germany, questions whether they are as inclusive, just, and democratically controlled by their members as often deemed. We find that energy cooperatives are typically initiated by well-off, rural, male sexagenarians. The participation between women and men (including in decision-making) is below parity. Concluding, in practice, the mechanism of recruiting and engaging members falls behind the theoretic ideal of socially sustainable development. Although being a promising tool to curbing sustainability, current practices rather encompass a narrow perspective of sustainable development that is geared towards technological change. We conclude with a perspective of how this may be rectified in the future.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWho participates and drives collective action initiatives?
Publication date2020
ISBN (Print)979-10-92495-13-3
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Bibliographical note



  • Energy transition
  • Collective actions
  • Energy cooperatives
  • Public ownership
  • Sustainability


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