Community energy and the doughnut: visualising our society of the future
Everyone is talking about the transition to a renewable energy based, sustainable society, but it is still rare to find a visualisation of what this future society might look like – one that people like you and me can comprehend. At REScoop.eu, we are convinced that a clear, understandable vision of our future is key for people to get on board with the energy transition.
Our Charter outlines the key principles and our vision to lead Europe towards a sustainable, economically strong, and socially fair society. It responds to environmental, economic, political, geopolitical, and social challenges, as well as challenges for the commons.
This vision is based on various aspects:
- reduction of the energy consumption through a more rational energy use and energy efficiency;
- transition from fossil/nuclear to renewable energy sources;
- collaboration between different local actors or stakeholders;
- solidarity between the rural areas and cities, between vulnerable and low/income households and those that are well-resourced, and between present and future generations;
- development and appropriate planning of the use of renewable energy sources to the advantage of citizens and the local economy;
- the need to integrate local renewables through flexibility, and ensuring the efficient functioning of the grid throughout the energy transition; and
- a direct democratic model for the energy market concerning prices, planning and pollution reduction.
Renewable energy cooperatives – or REScoops – all across the EU have been promoting and living in accordance with these principles for many years, even before the EU developed regulations to support citizen and renewable energy communities. Our network incorporates all the values the EU asks of its energy communities, and more.
The REScoop doughnut
It has been amazing to see cooperative values permeate the energy and economic debate more and more over the last decade – not last through the Doughnut Economics model proposed by Kate Raworth. Doughnut Economics proposes to build our economies in a way that actively ensures that our societies don’t overshoot planetary boundaries, whilst at the same time striving towards and maintaining ambitious social standards. These, according to Kate Raworth, are two key pillars for ensuring sustainable and prosperous societies and communities.
In order to reflect these two pillars, our visual representation of the society of the future includes the doughnut as a foundational element. The circular shape is also the symbol of cooperativism, which we believe constitutes an important element in the quest to build more sustainable, fair and strong local economies: ‘progress through cooperation instead of growth through competition’.
This visual does not only represent a locally based energy transition; it also encourages people to look beyond the energy sector - thinking about ways to use space, produce food, manage water resources, and about democracy as a whole. It shows energy-savvy citizens who interact with their local governments, and a fluid communication between citizens and the European Union.
The challenges we are facing today cannot be overcome by governments and large companies alone. Energy communities fight for a world that puts society safely in between the social foundation and Earth's planetary boundaries. Citizens will be key in ensuring our shared goal of a safe and sustainable society becomes a reality. In order to achieve this goal and activate citizens, we need them to be able to have real ownership of the process, and decide jointly for themselves, their families, and their communities.