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Dr Ed Atkins


My research is based on the contested character of environmental and energy policy, politics and governance. This is with a particular focus on the local politics of energy generation and consumption – and moves across three interrelated themes:

  1. The contentious politics of hydropower
    Current research explores the contested sustainability of hydropower in the Brazilian Amazon. In particular, I am interested in how social movements and civil society actors have contested the Belo Monte and São Luiz do Tapajós dams, exploring how such responses challenge dominant understandings of hydropower as a ‘sustainable’ energy source that has a role in energy transitions.

  2. The localised energy demands of cryptocurrencies – and wider digital technologies
    Whilst the above project explores the contested character of energy production, I am starting new work that focuses on an emergent use of energy in the 21st century. This analyses the role that energy demands associated with the generation of cryptocurrencies play in patterns of uneven development, globalisation and energy justice, as well as necessitating new policy regimes.

  3. ‘Just transition’
    Situated at the point that the two above strands of work meet, my work on the concept of ‘just transition’ explores or how environmental and energy policy must be equitable and inclusive. Whilst there is an urgency around discussing and mitigating climate change, it is important to ensure that segments of our community (at local, national and global levels) are not left behind or unsupported. This work explores how policy concepts, such as a Green New Deal, can piece together an energy transition that works for everyone.

    In exploring this topic, I have grown particularly interested in the concept of 'contested sustainabilities', in which the ambiguity of contemporary notions of sustainability have given rise to divergent - and, at times, conflicting pathways of sustainable development.

Research keywords

  • Environmental Politics
  • Sustainable Development; Energy Politics; Just transition; Green New Deal