Introduction to Responsive Organising for Low Emission Societies (ROLES)

What is ROLES?

ROLES is exploring how European city-regions can accelerate and intensify decarbonisation, specifically looking at the role of digitalisation of energy infrastructure and focusing on pathways that also create social benefits (such as reducing fuel and transport poverty). The project is working in the UK, Italy and Norway, with case studies in all three countries. The project started in late 2020 and will run for three years.

ROLES will develop an analytical framework for creating pathways to achieve deep decarbonisation by digitalising energy systems. We will prioritise co-creation of these pathways with relevant stakeholders and explore the role of power dynamics in shaping them.

The analytical framework we produce will be applicable to any mid-sized European city-region. We will initially apply it in three case studies city regions, each focusing on a different sector/ context for digitalising energy infrastructure (e.g. smart meter, e-mobility). Results will be shared with a wide range of stakeholders, from civic leaders to bodies representing marginalised groups.

Project Update

The ROLES project is off to a good start despite the challenging pandemic circumstances. Our project involves locally rooted fieldwork across three countries – carrying out this in-depth empirical research currently presents some obvious problems. The project team met online in December for our kick-off meeting. Despite being a large group, we are a cohesive team, as country team members have worked closely together. See a photo from our kick-off meeting!

We will meet online once a month to exchange views and ensure coordinated activities across our three case study cities: Bergen (Norway), Brighton (UK) and Trento (Italy). During the second monthly meeting in January 2021 each team member picked a favourite text relevant to ROLES, giving the team a quick ‘brain dump’ of their takeaway from the text and how it could be useful for our project work. As a team with a vast range of experience and disciplinary competencies, this sort of exchange is an exciting and rewarding aspect of collaboration during ROLES.

With much of the administrative work necessary to set up the project complete, 2021 will see our research work starting to gain momentum. Team Norway had a head-start through their work on JUSTMOB (just mobility transitions) during the autumn semester of 2020, which provides a foundation for further data collection and consolidation during ROLES. See a video recording of a public seminar on just mobility transitions in Bergen.

Disseminating Our Work

An exciting event relevant to ROLES is coming up in August 2021 – a biannual workshop of the Energy Anthropology Network on the theme ‘digitisation and low-carbon energy transitions’. Siddharth Sareen, the ROLES Principal Investigator, is co-convening this workshop along with Katja Müller. The shortlisted abstracts that have been invited for discussion as workshop papers are expected to be published as an edited volume.

One of ROLES’ first public dissemination activities is coming up in February 2021 at the Literature Festival Bergen. A reflexive, data-driven and interactive event is coming up as part of the National SDG 3 Conference Day Zero co-creation workshop on just urban mobility transitions on 10th February 2021. During 10th-12th February 2021, we will introduce the project at the 5th Energy and Society Conference in Trento (online), and discuss the design of participation processes.

Sign up to the ROLES newsletter for future updates and upcoming events!

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The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the individual authors and do not represent Sussex Energy Group.

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