Roads to an Energy Commons
An Exchange

by Simon Pirani, Larry Lohmann and David Schwartzman

first published 17 February 2022

This pamphlet brings together contributions from three authors to a recent forum on the People and Nature website ( about the role of fossil fuels and the meaning of "energy" in capitalist society. The discussion emphasizes the importance of analyzing commodities, commons, class, history and physics when talking about transitions away from fossil fuels and from capitalism.

The first article, by Simon Pirani, discusses the way that energy has been turned into a commodity under capitalism, and asks whether and how it could be decommodified. A second article, by Larry Lohmann, argues that the very concept of “energy” has to be challenged more robustly. Further interventions follow from Pirani, Lohmann and David Schwartzman, who writes on solar energy.

The authors all hope that the discussion will be taken up by others -- perhaps in new and unexpected directions. Anyone who would like to contribute is invited to contact Simon Pirani at peoplenature[at]