Publication récente (1) : Energy Transition and Urban Governance in the Arab World

Masdar City

J’ai le plaisir d’annoncer la parution de cette communication lors du colloque Wise Cities in the Mediterranean organisée par la Kuwait Program de Sciences Po, dont les actes peuvent être lus en ligne ici. Voici le résumé de ma communication:

The 2015 Paris Agreement and the recent Quito New Urban Agenda both emphasised the need to empower cities in climate change policies, including energy policies that aim at energy transitions towards more energy efficiency and the use of renewable energies. Being both factors in and potential victims of climate change, cities have many reasons to act. Therefore, there is a need to examine how changes in urban governance could indeed address this necessity and the challenge cities have to face. This issue has been addressed in many studies and plans for cities in the Western and advanced industrial world. These first studies have highlighted several results. Firstly, instead of considering only climate change issues, they stressed the need to understand ecological pressures more widely, particularly the way global energy pressures, like peak oil threats or price increases have created energy stress for cities. Secondly, they also underlined how privatisation trends and the ascent of transnational energy firms reconfigured energy regulation by sidelining public energy utilities and companies. Thirdly, metropolisation, the concentration of wealth and power in the big metropolises, transforms urban governance. The role of states in energy regulation is thus undermined and metropolitan coalitions are more diverse and open to private and as well as local urban interests. Green growth becomes a new market for private firms, and metropolitan governments compete for jobs and investments in the sector. At the same time, ensuring the continuity of energy supply or of other infrastructure is another goal for metropolitan firms and authorities. This leads to new agendas, including local policies of energy transition, which combine the promotion of renewable energies and energy efficiency with the shortening of energy circuits. However, several factors that are favouring these changes in energy governance seem to be specific to world cities and might not apply in other contexts. The increasing – albeit contested – political autonomisation of such cities in their relation to national states and their specific wealth are cases in point. My goal in this chapter is to look at Arab cities, for which, at a first glance, energy transition initiatives seem difficult to identify. My chapter draws on a wide collective analysis of urban energy transition policies in ten metropolises from emerging economies, including several Arab cities such as Amman, Beirut, Tunis and Sfax (Jaglin and Verdeil, 2017; Verdeil et al., 2015; Verdeil, 2014a; 2016; forthcoming), and on secondary literature about the United Arab Emirates. It aims to propose some preliminary observations and to raise questions to fuel the upcoming debate. I will not present case studies but rather identify policy issues and policy options that vary greatly according to context and, above all, according to the national availability of fossil energy such as oil and gas and the social contracts that govern the redistribution of this wealth in exchange for loyalty.


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