On Tuesday, November 12th, GRI’s Director for Strategic Research Collaborations, Jennie Stephens, spoke to an audience at Northeastern as part of the Contemporary Issues in Security and Resilience lecture series. Dr. Stephens, who is also the Dean’s Professor of Sustainability Science and Policy and the Director of the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, focused her lecture on distributing power through renewable transformation for climate resilience.
Dr. Stephens began with explaining how the transition from fossil fuel systems to renewable energy can make communities more resilient in the face of the climate crisis. Climate resilience can mean preparing for, adapting to, and learning from climate disruptions. This includes sudden disruptions like severe storms or slow disruptions like increasing temperatures and prolonged heat waves. Disruptions affect communities and society more intensely in places where power and wealth are concentrated inequitably, causing disparate impacts and multiple injustices.
The redistribution of power, both in terms of energy and in terms of policy and wealth, is key to making our nation and our world more resilient. Dr. Stephens presented three ways in which we can pursue redistribution of power: resist, reclaim, restructure. Resistance can be targeted towards the fossil fuel industry, and by publicizing the industry’s efforts to hide the harm it causes our environment. We can reclaim our ability to use renewable energy, as every community has access to some type of renewable energy sources. We can restructure, by transitioning to renewable energy while diversifying our use of centralized and decentralized energy sources.
Dr. Stephens also spoke about the climate crisis and renewable energy in terms of American politics. Now, we are seeing a younger, more diverse set of leaders step up to lead the work of combating climate change. Dr. Stephens said that it is noteworthy and important because a diverse set of voices are not only more representative of all communities which stand to benefit from the transition to renewable energy, but also that diversity makes organizing and advocating more effective. Additionally, with the introduction of legislation such as the Green New Deal, we see the harnessing of the climate emergency to advance social justice and vice versa. Instead of questioning how we can afford these ambitious climate crisis solutions, we must consider the catastrophic implications of inaction.
For more information future events Dr. Stephens and other members of GRI and affiliated faculty are participating in, click here.