Clock is ticking. With every minute of world economy functioning, humanity irrevocably is losing particles of itself – non-renewable energy, thereby committing the original sin of using up the one and only tank of spaceship earth according to concept Buckminster Fuller’s.

The reason is faulty international coordination of countries’ climate-energy relations, which is disrupted by installed system pathogenic inconsistency and dichotomy. Institutional evils were mentioned once separately by Hazel Henderson and Timothy Mitchell. First one wrote thesis about so called countries in “Solar Age” (unofficial name of the Postcarbon democracies), second one about idiosyncratic functioning of so called Carbon Democracies. What, in consequences, brought global institutional division – similiar to Cold War partition into two political camps – on the global energy levels.

It turns out that using or not using coal (primary energy source) to fuel national economy (by consuming i.e. electricity – secondary energy source) has unexpected huge impact on political system, leading to Carbon Democracy vs Postcarbon Democracy dichotomy, which causes that dialogue between those two looks like deaf talk.

Using coal or any other finite hydrocarbon in the country is associated with implementation of concrete socio-political institutions. Creating exclusive system of government, which derives its motive power source out of natural oligopoly in the sector of non-renewable energy sources. Carbon Democracy is also a form of institutional vertical power (top-down), affecting the shape of the social system, which constitute the strength of non-renewable energy resources holders. Carbon democracy is a regime with weakened social force en masse – with each burned hydrocarbon megajoule the sovereign power of its’ citizens fall. In the literature, to emphasize this fact, it’s added a carbon adjective. Carbon democracy, often referred in the doctrine to study of energy states. is quite different idea than well-known petrol state – referred to the countries that have the role of the importer or exporter of raw materials. Carbon democracy has one major drawback – functioning according to idyllic rule. This situation was characterized by professor Zygmunt Bauman – its root resides in the modern doctrine of development: “Growth concept as patented universal remedy for the problems arising from the defects of human coexistence assumes infinite resources availability, limitless possibilities of science and technology, and thus – the infinite progression, defined as the increase in production of consumer goods and increasing convenience of living”.

Among the idiosyncratic characteristics of identity schema of this political system, which holds a functional carbon democracy matrix are:

– Reliance of economies on non-renewable capital

– Concentration of capital

– Formation of from above (top-down)

– Centralized power system

– A frequent lack of access to objective data

– A strong lobby of small social groups (Theory of Small Groups)

– Representative democracy

What is important and worth selecting at once, not all countries hold each or even majority of institutional vices mentioned above. It is impossible to name the major oil producers like Saudi Arabia and Russia – representative democracy by definition. But small groups lobby is, in turn, very strong there. It is an undeniable fact that these are countries that directly benefit from the sale and disposal of subsistence resources. For this reason, they have huge reserves of fiat money, which means that capital is concentrated in the states’ elite group. This fact influences the way of doing politics explicitly – one-way style top-down. Most of the decisions are taken at the central levels. This implies that very often, civic support of the renewable and prosumers’ economy in the common polls does not translate into political action – lack of David Easton’s political feedback in the system, which ultimately deprives him of positive incentives.

For all these reasons climate-energy dialogue in the future will be more and more difficult. Why? Because on the other side of the negotiating table will be growing from strength to strength a Postcarbon Democracies, which are characterized by irreconcilable values, like in the black and white contrast comparison.

Postcarbon democracy matrix includes:

– Reliance of economies on renewable capital,

– Formation of an inter-dialogue in the bottom-up manner,

– The participation of the majority of society in decision-making process,

– Access to objective data,

– The dispersion of capital,

– Decentralized energy and prosumers’ system,

– Deliberative democracy.

This all makes the achievement of the transnational framework climate-energy agreement an Immanuel Wallerstein’s utopistics scenario.


Source of Photo: greens_climate (flickr)