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19th European Roundtable on Sustainable Consumption and Production – Circular Europe for Sustainability: Design, Production and Consumption

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Social Movements for Sustainable Cities and Communities – the Cases of Both Movements German Anti-Coal and French Anti-Nuclear

States shape environmental and climate change policies of their countries. Putting themselves in the forefront of sustainability as for example at the 21st Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC near Paris, especially Western European states are often regarded as environmental leaders. On the other hand, they often rely and support unsustainable forms of energy production such as nuclear or coal fired power stations. Foucault (2010) argues that governments try to shape narratives of mental production, trying to produce the citizen best suited to fulfil those governments' policies. Drawing on this concept, this paper investigates how and why both the French and German states advocate seemingly unsustainable forms of energy production when environmental impacts and risks are well known. More specifically this paper investigates the organized practices (mentalities, rationalities, and techniques) by which subjects are governed in terms of energy and sustainability related fields in Germany and France. It draws on data on environmental conflicts collected for the EJOLT ( project, which aims to catalogue and analyse ecological distribution conflicts and confront environmental injustice. This contribution also applies Foucault's (2010) notion of ‘counter-conducts’ to study the dispersed, heterogeneous and variegated forms of resistance in contemporary environmental struggles. It investigates strategies and forms of local resistance against coalmines, coal fired power stations, nuclear power station, and (proposed) nuclear waste sites and how activists connect to wider networks of environmental justice. A famous example is “Ende Gelände” a large civil disobedience protest movement in Germany to limit global warming through fossil fuel phase-out. Similarly, in France there are “Zone à Défendre” (ZAD) as occupations intending to physically block environmentally sensitive projects such as the proposed nuclear waste storage site in Bure. We argue that in both cases German Coal and French Nuclear the will of being-governed like that is decreasing and that in the end these counter-conducts will result in withdrawal from the unsustainable forms of energy production resistance to governmental strategies is decreasing.

Gabriel Weber
ESSCA, School of Management, Bordeaux


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