Countermapping renewables: space, justice and politics of wind and solar power in Mexico

Authors: Sofia Avila*, Institute of Environmental Science and Technology
Topics: Environmental Justice, Energy
Keywords: maps, neoliberal development, commons, environmental justice, political ecology, energy transitions
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/9/2021
Start / End Time: 1:30 PM / 2:45 PM
Room: Virtual 37
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

The ongoing expansion of large-scale renewable energy projects entails major spatial reconfigurations with socio-environmental and political dimensions. These emerging geographies are, however, a process in the making that is contested and yet to be determined. While a new research agenda highlights the prominent role that maps will play in shaping and directing such processes, countermapping interventions have not yet been fully explored. In this article, we present a countermapping initiative promoting a dialogue between critical geography, political ecology, and environmental justice. We take the case of Mexico’s low-carbon development strategy to critically dissect the spatial expansion of wind and solar mega-projects at both national and regional scales. Our countermapping consists of a series of databases and maps aimed to “fill” the spaces and relations otherwise “emptied” by the State’s cartographic tools. Our work is the result of an alliance between Geocomunes -a collective of activist cartographers based in Mexico- and the EjAtlas -a global collaborative project tracking cases of grassroots mobilizations against environmental injustices-. When presenting our results, we discuss the role of maps in defining a neoliberal project for the energy transition, pinpointing to the spatialities of environmental injustice within produced. We close our research by highlighting the role of activist-research and grassroots movements in identifying key points of political intervention to promote a transition based on the commons and informed by principles of environmental justice.

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