Philanthrocapitalists, Entrepreneurs, and Renewable Societies; or, How Bill Gates Sees Energy Transition

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Wednesday, September 27, 2023 - 5:00pm to 6:30pm
Prince George
Global Friday Presents
Dr. Imre Szeman
FISSSH Visiting Research Professor
Director, Institute for Environment, Conservation and Sustainability
University of Toronto
Abstract: 2025 is when global fossil fuel use will finally begin to decrease, ending a period of energy history initiated in the eighteenth century which has traumatized the earth and its inhabitants. 
What happens next?
This essay assesses claims being made about the best approach to energy transition and the shape of the renewable world that lies just over the horizon. Nation-states and entrepreneurs are offering publics competing visions of energy and environmental futures, even as right-wing ideologues fight to ensure the future looks much like the past. Who should we believe can and will undertake climate action in the interest of all the planet’s inhabitants? Are each of these actors only in it for themselves? What do the gaps, limits, and problems in the plans of the powerful tell us about how to best approach energy transition, so that we get the environmentally just futures we want? This paper will look offer a look at some of the discursive struggles now being fought to establish (in the words of Bill Gates) “the dull, factually correct middle” in which our green futures are supposed to be lived out.
Speaker's Bio: Imre Szeman is inaugural Director of the Institute for Environment, Conservation and Sustainability, Faculty Lead of EaRTH District, and Professor of Human Geography at the University of Toronto Scarborough. He is co-founder of the Petrocultures Research Group, which explores the socio-cultural dimensions of energy use and its implications for energy transition and climate change, and the leader of the After Oil Collective. Szeman is author (most recently) of On Petrocultures: Globalization, Culture, and Energy (2019) and co-editor of the Energized: Keywords for a New Politics of Energy (forthcoming 2023). He is at work on a book examining discursive and political struggles over the transition to a post-fossil fuel world. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. (
 Globalization, Culture, and Energy An Anthology
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Global Fridays gratefully acknowledges funding from the Faculties of Indigenous Studies, Social Sciences and Humanities.

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