The (Im)possible Energy Transition

Conversation with Jean-Baptiste Fressoz

Monday, 17 June 2024 - 7pm
Admission

Free, until full capacity is reached

Place
Nouvel Building, Auditorium 200, and online platform 
Capacity
200 people
Language
French with simultaneous interpreting
Alvin Langdon Coburn, The Coal Cart and the Tower, ca. 1911 / Posthumous copy, 2002, Museo Reina Sofía
Alvin Langdon Coburn, The Coal Cart and the Tower, ca. 1911 / Posthumous copy, 2002, Museo Reina Sofía

Inside the framework of the Critical Ecologies Seminar from Connective Tissue, the Museo Reina Sofía’s Study Programme, science and environmental historian Jean-Baptiste Fressoz reflects, alongside Adrián Almazán, the Seminar’s co-mobiliser, on global energy transformations in recent years and the need to adopt a critical perspective regarding models of ecological transition.

There is almost a total consensus on the need to phase out fossil fuels to halt climate change at the root, which requires energy transition investment that is capable of replacing these fuels with other sources of renewable, clean and decarbonised energy. Yet although ending CO₂ and other greenhouse gas emissions is clearly imperative, what happens if the idea of transition is in itself misleading? Is there any sense in thinking in terms of replacement when it comes to designing an energy strategy to tackle the current global eco-social crisis?  

For Fressoz, the problem is that after two centuries of “energy transition” the world burns more petrol, gas and biomass than ever, and in his view a better idea would be to think in terms of energy symbiosis and addition rather than about transitions and replacements which, he asserts, have never materialised.

Participants

Adrián Almazán co-mobilises the Critical Ecologies Seminar from Connective Tissue, the Museo Reina Sofía’s Study Programme.

Jean-Baptiste Fressoz is a science, technology and environmental historian who is currently a researcher in the Historical Research Centre at École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris (CNRS). His work focuses on environmental history and the history of climate knowledge in the Anthropocene. He is the author of L’apocalypse joyeuse, Une histoire du risque technologique (Seuil, 2012), L’Événement anthropocène. La terre, l’histoire et nous (Seuil, 2013), Introduction à l’histoire environnementale (La Découverte, 2014), The Shock of the Anthropocene (with Christophe Bonneuil, Verso, 2015) and Chaos in the Heavens: The Forgotten History of Climate Change (with Fabien Locher, Verso, 2024), among other works. His latest book is More and More and More: An All-Consuming History of Energy (Penguin, 2024).