eESG Sponsored Sessions

If you would like us to consider your AAG 2021 session for EESG sponsorship, please contact us through the People page.

Unravelling the “Net” in Climate and Biodiversity Policy Frameworks

Organizers: Louise Carver; Chairs: Duncan McLaren

In two key arenas of environmental policy, and at multiple scales there has been a proliferation of targets based on a balancing of gains and losses — ‘Net-Zero’ emissions targets, and ‘No-Net-Loss’/ ‘Net Gain’ biodiversity or ecosystem targets. While welcoming the impetus towards action that these targets appear to suggest, we think it critical to unpack - or unravel - the implications of definitions and framings based on accounting for the ‘net’ balance. In each case (biodiversity and climate), ‘net’ approaches invite the measurement and delivery of emissions or biodiversity units above and below set baselines. They are presented as ways to engender technical and economic pathways towards climate repair and ecological restitution.
‘Net’ approaches depend on principles of accounting and measurement of units for calculation in aggregate framings of environmental health and harm. Geographers have traced the economistic, and sometimes commodifying tendencies of these approaches and the capitalist logics, spaces and (often stunted) financial flows that they support through accounting equivalences. Moreover, in both cases it appears that the possibility of repair (habitat recreation or carbon removal), however speculative, is serving to enable and justify continued losses or emissions— and in some cases accelerate them. The function of the ‘net’ it seems, is a concession to a second-best option in comparison to halting biodiversity loss and cutting emissions to zero. The optimism which ‘net’ induces also relies on uncertain tools for restoration to expand biodiversity, or draw down greenhouse gas levels through removal technologies and investments in land based sinks. ‘Net’ approaches imply inevitable losses: recalcitrant emissions, unavoidable development. This raises many questions: How ‘inevitable’ are such losses and what effects do ‘net’ principles have on these judgements? On what timescales do the losses and gains play out? How quickly could losses be recovered by reparative land and technology based processes?
In this session we would like to explore the emergent theoretical and empirical opportunities for comparisons across both frameworks which have until now remained relatively siloed in geographical scholarship. The year 2021 will see both the postponed UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change CoP 26 and Convention for Biological Diversity CoP 15 where ‘net’ principles in climate, biodiversity and ecosystem governance frameworks will most likely be strengthened and renewed.

New political ecologies and food-energy-water nexus of renewable energy and energy storage

Organizers: Bethani Turley, Alida Cantor; Chairs: Bethani Turley

The US energy sector is in the process of a major transition toward renewable energy technologies in order to decarbonize energy production and address climate change. Alongside a rise in proposals for new renewable energy infrastructure, there is currently a huge push by policymakers and entrepreneurs for energy storage technologies that can ensure renewable energy availability and allow for renewable energy to phase out natural gas and coal. Energy storage technologies range from large land-intensive infrastructure projects to household-scale technologies, including large-scale pumped hydro storage, utility-scale battery energy storage systems, and non-wires alternatives and distributed energy projects.
Geographers have embraced the study of energy and the low carbon energy transition, noting that energy transition is more than a socio-technical, temporal process, but that it is rather political, cultural, and deeply geographic (Bridge et al. 2013; Hansen and Coenen 2015). One aspect of the energy transition is that large-scale renewable energy and energy storage infrastructures require extensive surficial land use (Huber and McCarthy 2017), and involve complex issues around water and land use, which raises questions around the use of water resources and land development politics.
An emerging approach in policy and management disciplines to these resource issues is the ‘food-energy-water nexus’, used especially in the context of agricultural and energy development in areas affected by drought and water scarcity, such as Southern California (Fang, Newell, and Cousins 2015). However this nexus literature tends to lack analysis of the political economic and political ecological contexts that produce resources and their use (Williams, Bouzarovski, and Swyngedouw 2019). Following the call for geographers to address issues of the low carbon energy transition and to engage with the food-energy-water nexus (Baka and Vaishnava 2020), this panel invites papers that critically examine land and water implications of the existing and emergent renewable energy and energy storage landscape in (and beyond) the US.We are interested in papers that utilize critical perspectives including political ecology and political economy, feminist and decolonial perspectives, and critical physical geography; we welcome a range of methodological approaches and want to develop empirically rich accounts of renewable energy and its land-water implications.

The urban Food-Water-Energy Nexus: Research and Applications

Organizers: Jochen Wendell; Chairs: Pia Laborgne

With more than half of the world’s population presently living in urban areas, much of the demand for Food, Water and Energy (FWE) occurs in cities. Cities are concerned about sustainable social, environmental and economic development; therefore, risks and vulnerabilities related to energy, food, and water supply are high priority considerations. This session will explore research and applications related to the Food-Water-Energy (FWE) nexus in urban setting.