Does democracy depend on energy?

Roundtable Conference “Does democracy depend on energy?”

IES and EDGE programme researcher discusses this question in Tallinn, Estonia, 4 November 2014

On 4 November 2014, Dr Claire Dupont, IES and EDGE programme researcher, attended a roundtable conference as one of four keynote speakers in Tallinn, Estonia. The speakers were invited to discuss ideas related to the overarching question: “Does democracy depend on energy nowadays?”, with specific emphasis on evolving EU-Russian relations. This specific relationship has long been based on energy relations, with Russia relying on the EU as its major energy export market and the EU relying on Russia as a major supplier of fossil fuel energy.

Dr Mikhail Krutikhin from the RusEnergy Consulting Agency in Moscow began proceedings by speaking on the internal developments in Russia and chances for democratic change there. Mr Rene Tammist of the Estonian Renewable Energy Association described the opportunities for the EU to move away from fossil fuel dependence, with high potential in the short-term especially for energy efficiency in the heating and cooling sector. Dr Claire Dupont next took the floor to describe the long-term trends towards decarbonisation that may allow the EU to move away from fossil-based energy relations to promote opportunities for promotion of democratic values with its neighbours. Finally, Mr Mihkel Härm, from the Estonian office of the World Energy Council, presented results of a survey on perceptions of risk in energy developments in a variety of countries.

The audience, which included representatives from Government ministries, foreign embassies, academics, civil society organisations, journalists, and interested citizens, participated fully in the discussion. The event was organised by the European College of the University of Tartu.