Community energy (CE) features as one amongst the many novel forms of grassroots innovation that seek to foster sustainability via citizen-led local-level initiatives. The burgeoning research on CE has thus far paid little attention to the role of trust in shaping the conditions of success of CE organisations. Moreover, to the extent that ecological economics has addressed the role of trust in environmental and sustainability policy, it has done so by mainly focusing on the virtues of interpersonal or institutional trust in facilitating environmentally less harmful behaviour at individual, community and national levels. Ecological economics has paid little attention to the complex interaction between different types of trust, and to the potential virtues of mistrust and distrust. To help fill these research gaps, this article first develops a conceptual framework for analysing trust, mistrust and distrust in CE activities, and then illustrates the concepts via an exploratory empirical case of the two CE organisations active in the city of Brighton and Hove, UK. The findings highlight the usefulness of distinguishing between mistrust and distrust; the centrality of the ideological dimension of trust, mistrust and distrust; and the virtues of distrust towards the dominant players in motivating and driving CE activity.
LEHTONEN, M. et DE CARLO, L. (2019). Community Energy and the Virtues of Mistrust and Distrust: Lessons from Brighton and Hove Energy Cooperatives. Ecological Economics, 164.