Energy, for most people on Earth, plays a paramount role in daily life. Its usage is so intricately wired into modern living that we don’t even routinely acknowledge its significance; this is until access becomes interrupted, and our pursuits have become halted.
Acquiring power is therefore crucially important for human well-being. Perhaps most challenging, though, is juggling economic development related requirements with ethical human rights obligations, including our capacity for accessing resources. Also vitally necessary is preserving and protecting our planet’s holistic and life-sustaining ecosystems.
While the evolution and implementation of innovative renewable energy technologies is underway, nuclear power as well as finite accumulations of petroleum, natural gas, and coal are still being utilized. Related challenges generated from determining how electricity is produced, who owns it, as well as how it is distributed and to whom are widespread. Alarming, perhaps even frightening, problems such as energy resource access conflicts, coupled with looming climate change disasters, are also becoming reality. Indeed, creative strategies for decoding and solving these topical global issues are imperative.
Chiang Mai University School of Public Policy (SPP) is diligently exploring these macro and micro-level energy related socio-political and environmental problems and how solutions can be created through intelligently crafted public policies.
We recognize that generating effective answers begins with informed and relevant inquiries. Is energy a private good or a public good? How does a government handle a private company that is offering a public service, such as electricity? How does a city implement and manage non-prominent energy systems such as solar power and other renewables? How do we become more sustainable in our energy consumption? How can public policies incentivize people to become more independent energy producers and consumers? What about justice-based policies that support fair electricity pricing schemes, while capacitating equal access to this public service?
SPP, in addition to answering these questions and applying them to public policies design, is particularly looking at the development and implementing of “pro-sumer” initiatives, whereby people are both energy producers and consumers. We on international, national, and local levels are doing this by hosting deliberative platforms tasked with cultivating energy planning space that serves public interests by including all stakeholders in an inclusive, innovative, and progressive multi-level governance process.