MILEN International Conference - Visions and strategies to address sustainable energy and climate change

Start/Stop Date:
25–26 Nov 2010
University of Oslo
University of Oslo, Blindern campus
Focus Areas:
Sustainable energy and climate change
Type of Event:

The challenges associated with resolving energy and environmental dilemmas continue to multiply. On the one hand, energy continues to be absolutely necessary for development in the many regions of the world without access to basic energy services. On the other hand, energy consumption in the rich countries of the world has grown to enormous proportions over the past half century and is the main factor behind climate change and other environmental problems.

The onus is on rich countries to reduce their energy consumption dramatically and to replace conventional energy with renewables as rapidly as possible. The challenge for developing countries will be to aim for growth in the share of renewable energy for development. Further, since emission-driven climate change has begun and will continue over the coming decades (regardless of the intensity of mitigation), efforts need to begin now to map the nature and extent of the changes and how to adapt.

These energy and environmentally-related challenges demand new thinking in every domain of research from basic to applied. Due to the social, economic, legal and technical implications of the transformation to a sustainable society, it will be important to promote and develop new interdisciplinary alliances. MILEN’s first international conference will provide the platform for such new coalitions. It will encourage new visions and new strategies for addressing the most pressing energy and environmental challenges for contemporary societies. The conference will bring together international scholars working across disciplines on sustainable energy and climate change. The ultimate goal of the conference will be setting the agenda for further inter-disciplinary collaboration among social and natural scientists researching these critical topics.

The conference organizing committee welcomes contributions that address visions and strategies for tackling these energy and environmental challenges. We expect papers which address new political, social, ethical and natural science advances in efforts to reduce societal energy use, climate gas emissions and other environmental consequences of energy use. As a cross-cutting topic, we are interested in papers that discuss the role of different national and international actors in setting the agenda on energy development and climate change.

The following questions exemplify issues we hope to address at the conference;

  • Are current visions, grounded in technical change and economic instruments, sufficient to insure transformation to a sustainable society?
  • How can a new interdisciplinary vision for sustainable energy emerge which gives weight to social, economic and technological perspectives? What would be the constitutive elements of this interdisciplinary vision?
  • How can social values, aspirations and practices be transformed to embrace a lower energy consumption scenario?
  • What are the respective roles of government, markets and technology innovation in reducing the energy-intensity of consumption in transport, buildings (homes) and industry?
  • To what extent should communities and individuals accept visions for a sustainable society designed by scientists and technocrats? How could the general public be integrated in the change process?
  • How can renewable energy facilitate the process of adaptation to climate variability and extreme events? In what ways are renewable energy systems resilient or vulnerable to the impacts of climate change?
  • Some renewable energy technologies are based on the use of non-renewable materials. Should this be supported?
  • Are renewable technologies truly being transferred to developing countries or is international aid being used as a guise for creating markets for Western-based renewable energy companies? How can renewable energy technologies be implemented in developing countries in ways that account for local socio-cultural contexts and assure the transfer of technology know how?

Registration and fees
The conference fee will be 75 Euro for non-students (this will cover the conference booklet, a dinner, two lunches and coffee breaks). Students enrolled in bachelor, masters and PhD programs are exempted from the conference fee. Details on fee payments will be announced well in advance of the opening of registration on 1st September in the conference website .

Organizing committee
Harold Wilhite, Academic Director, MILEN, and Research Director, Centre for Development and the Environment, University of Oslo.
Karen O’Brian, Professor, Department of Sociology and Human Geography, University of Oslo
Göran Sundqvist, Centre for technology, innovation and culture, University of Oslo
Ola Nilsen, Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry, University of Oslo

For more information visit the conference website