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Engaging rural communities in renewable energy

Renewable energy projects can have a tremendous impact on small communities. Proper implementation is key to ensuring a fair and positive impact. 

John ParkinsJohn Parkins is Professor of Resource Economics & Environmental Sociology at the University of Alberta. He has been studying how rural communities are dealing with declining primary industries and the rise in renewable energy projects. He is concerned about the potential for communities to be left behind in the shift to renewables. A shift that can lead to opposition to an energy transition that is vital in dealing with climate change.

Iron & Earth relies on a sense of community to get much of our work in renewable energy done. Not just by consulting with individuals and communities on how they might be affected by the energy transition, but by collaborating to ensure that everyone connected to a project in some way is also part of determining the outcome. And like Dr. Parkins, ensuring that communities are not left behind. 

Dr. Parkins work asks “who wins, who loses, and who decides” in the development of renewable energy projects being built near small towns or individual land owners. Questions that need to be addressed to secure equitable energy diversification and sustainable development.

Questions that we also seek to answer, so we put freelance broadcaster Don Hill in touch with John Parkins to find out what he has learned about the costs and benefits of the energy transition.

In case you wondered where renewable energy projects are popping up in Canada, Dr. Parkins’ team developed an interactive map of renewable energy projects across the country.




This podcast is funded in part by the Government of Canada's Sectoral Workforce Solutions Program.

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Iron & Earth is committed to partnering with Indigenous workers to empower their communities to become self-sufficient in training programs, clean energy transition projects, and employment opportunities to combat environmental racism. It falls to all of us to continue the work of healing and reconciliation in our communities and our organizations. Our relationship with the land and the people who live here shapes who we are. It is in the spirit of reconciliation and honouring the past that we recognize treaties and agreements wherever they are and wherever we work.

We also acknowledge all peoples who live, work, and play on this land, and who honour and celebrate this territory.
As individuals and teams we may make mistakes along the way, but we are dedicated to growth, openness, compassion, and forgiveness. These principles in our work are essential to building successful and healthy relationships with individuals, communities, organizations, and governments.

We look forward to building a path to lead us to a better relationship with Indigenous nations and the environment around us based on peace, friendship, and respect.