Wasting Democracy, Fueling Dissent: Refuse-Derived Fuels in Can Sant Joan (Catalonia)

Sergio Ruiz Cayuela, Ethemcan Turhan

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    The cement industry is one of the most energy intensive in the world, contributing significantly to global greenhouse gas emissions. The use of refuse-derived fuels (RDF) in cement kilns is increasingly portrayed as a sustainable solution to reduce emissions while dealing with different types of waste. Nevertheless, the use of RDF in cement plants is contested by communities around the world, who are facing immediate environmental impacts. In this article, we examine the burgeoning movement against waste incineration in cement kilns legitimized as energy recovery. We start by revisiting the environmental justice literature, which laid the groundwork for the contemporary anti-RDF movement. Then, in order to highlight the energy dimension of RDF we focus on two energy-related concepts: energy justice and energy democracy. Through the case study of Can Sant Joan (Catalonia), we assess the suitability and usefulness of these concepts with the local movement against waste incineration. Our analysis suggests that the movement against RDF use can be further energized and strengthened by expanding into the realm of energy democracy. Both the anti-RDF and the energy democracy movement share a focus on the local scale, have similar typology of stakeholders involved, and favor a strong bottom-up approach while paying attention to unequal power relations. We also observe that these movements can mutually benefit from being better integrated with one another. Finally, we propose that a potential alliance between the Plataforma Antiincineració de Montcada i Reixac (PAMiR) and the Xarxa per la Sobirania Energètica (Xse) in Catalonia, can mobilize fruitful internal tensions toward a more inclusive and democratic future.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number142
    Number of pages13
    JournalFrontiers in Energy Research
    Publication statusPublished - 4 Jan 2019

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright © 2019 Ruiz Cayuela and Turhan. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

    Copyright © and Moral Rights are retained by the author(s) and/ or other copyright owners. A copy can be downloaded for personal non-commercial research or study, without prior permission or charge. This item cannot be reproduced or quoted extensively from without first obtaining permission in
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    • Energy democracy
    • Refuse-derived fuels
    • Environmental justice
    • Waste incineration
    • Energy justice
    • Energy sovereignty


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