Dr David Toke

Dr David Toke



Contact Details

work +44 (0)1224 272558
The University of Aberdeen Room F56, Edward Wright Building, Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Aberdeen, King's College Regents Walk, Aberdeen AB24 3FX. Office Telephone +44 (0)1224272558
Web Links

See Dave Toke's 'green energy blog' at  http://realfeed-intariffs.blogspot.co.uk/


David Toke is a late starter in academia. Previously he has worked in journalism and school teaching. He studied for a PhD at the Department of Political Science and International Studies (POLSIS) at the University of Birmingham from 1997-2001 before becoming a Research Fellow in POLSIS. In 2006 he became a Senior Lecturer in Environmental Policy and later Senior in Lecturer Energy Policy in the Departments of Sociology and POLSIS at University of Birmingham. He joined the University of Aberdeen in April 2013.

He has had over 50 papers published in refereed journals in different disciplines, most of all in Political Science, but also including Geography, Energy and Public Policy. He has published five single-authored monograph books. He has recently had published (in April 2017) 'China's Role in Reducing Carbon Emissions' and (in April 2018) 'Low Carbon Politics'. Both these books are published by Routledge. His output had been cited over 1800 times according to 'ResearchGate'.

Details of his book 'China's Role in Reducing Carbon Emissions' can be seen at the Routledge website at: https://www.routledge.com/Chinas-Role-in-Reducing-Carbon-Emissions-The-Stabilisation-of-Energy/Toke/p/book/9781138244412 This is available in both hardback and e-book version, the e-book being available for less than £25 a copy.

Details of his book 'Low Carbon Politics' (published in April 2018) can also be seen at the Routledge website at https://www.routledge.com/Low-Carbon-Politics-A-Cultural-Approach-Focusing-on-Low-Carbon-Electricity/Toke/p/book/9781138696778. An article in 'The Conversation' summarising some key points in the book can be seen at https://theconversation.com/the-unholy-alliance-that-explains-why-renewable-energy-is-trouncing-nuclear-93519 A FREE book chapter can be downloaded at https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/tandfbis/rt-files/Docs/Low+Carbon+Politics+free+chapter.pdf

His latest book (also with Routledge) is entitled 'Nuclear Power in Stagnation: A Cultural Approach to Failed Expansion'. He has taken the lead on this and it is also being co-authored with Geoffrey Chung-Fung Chen, Antony Froggatt and Richard Connolly and will focus on how regulatory changes to enforce safety measures are associated with increasing difficulties and costs with building nuclear power plant. Both western and non-western case studies will be examined, including USA, UK, France, China, South Korea and Russia. This will be published in 2021.

Besides the academic publications mentioned above he has published two widely read public interest books on energy policy. He has also written several book chapters and co-edited a book collection with academics from Rober Gordon University. He has written numerous influential reports for different NGOs. His work, including a report published by the World Future Council, proved to be a prime early influence (in 2007-2008) leading to the adoption of a system of feed-in tariffs for smaller renewable energy projects in the UK. He continues to be a leading advocate for effective policies to promote renewable energy, as can be seen from his 'green energy blog ', at http://realfeed-intariffs.blogspot.co.uk/  He has been active in the debate leading up to the UK Government's 'Electricity Market Reform'. He has advised and recently produced publications with environmental and green NGOs.  Friends of the Earth published his report 'A Proven Solution: How to Grow Renewables with a Fixed Feed-in Tariff' at the end of 2012.  See http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/briefings/david_toke_fits.pdf

In 2012 he served as a member of a group of experts advising the European Green Group of MEPs about developing EU Renewable Energy policy. This project was organised by the Heinrich Boll Foundation and the report for which David Toke was a contributing expert can be seen at http://www.boell.eu/web/288-877.html

He was one of the co-investigators in the 'Delivering Renewable Energy Under Devolution' (DREUD) team which has generated some highly publicised outputs, including two which have featured prominently in the debate surrounding the referendum on Scottish Independence. In the most recent report, for which Dr Toke was the lead author, issued in December 2013, it was argued that Scottish independence could very plausibly result in lower electricity prices in the context of reaching the Scottish Government's renewable energy targets compared to achieving the targets under the continued union under current arrangements. However, Scottish interests of achieving renewable energy targets and low electricity prices could also be achieved in the context of a 'devoplus' settlement which included giving the Scottish Government greater control over its electricity market arrangements, including spending in Scotland of low carbon electricity incentives. Seehttp://issuu.com/therobertgordonuniversity/docs/the_dreud_report_2013

The DREUD project was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. Much coverage of DREUD outputs has appeared in the Scottish press such as 'The Herald' and 'The Scotsman'. He has been a consistent sceptic of the chances of success for the Government's policy of promoting new nuclear power stations under 'Electricity Market Reform'.

In January 2017 his report 'Scotland's Wind' was published by the Scottish Green Party. This argued that the costs of delivering the UK s low carbon programme could be reduced substantially if the Scottish Government were given powers to fund its own renewable energy programme. See https://greens.scot/sites/default/files/Scotland%2527s%20Wind.pdf and some coverage in 'The National', http://www.thenational.scot/news/15009861.Energy_devolution_could_lower_bills__says_professor/

Most recently (2020) he took the lead in forming the not for profit company 100percentrenewableuk Ltd, whose website is at 100percentrenewableuk.org. He has written a report for the company on how windfarm compensation payments are linked to nuclear power production and also taken the lead in organising the company's campaign to persuade the Scottish Government to set a target of achieving the sourcing of all Scottish energy consumption (not just electricity) from renewable energy

He continues to make journalistic interventions, with recent articles appearing in the 'Huffington Post', 'Energy Economist', 'Utility Weekly' and The Scotsman. See for example http://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/only-one-winner-in-energy-debate-1-3826942. Also numerous letters and coverage appears in the Guardian, The Times and other newspapers. 

He has been involved in numerous funded research projects, including four projects funded by the ESRC (Politics of GM Food, wind power planning outcomes, Countryside Alliance and foxhunting, and devolution and renewable energy), two funded by the EU (integration of fluctuating renewables, marine spatial planning) one funded by the Leverhulme Trust (on food and agricultural policy) and one funded by the British Academy (Politics of GM Food). He is, as a coinvestigator, part of the University of Aberdeen's Leverhulme Doctoral Research Programme into Biorefining.

David Toke is Programme Co-ordinator for the MSc in Energy Politics and Law, a video about which can be seen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GJRrZfTbJT8&feature=youtu.be


Research Interests

  • Energy Policy, various aspects of renewable energy and energy efficiency policy, nuclear power  and particularly onshore and offshore wind power focusing on planning issues and financial support mechanisms
  • Environmental policy, focusing on decision making and governance issues, including ecological modernisation theory
  • Particular theories of governance including policy network theory, usage of discourse, rational choice and interest group theory
  • Food and countryside issues, especially foxhunting and The Countryside Alliance

Current Research

He is currently researching and writing about:

a) The politics of advocacy for and narratives for solar power. This involves a comparison between the USA (especially the southern USA) and the UK. This is being done in collaboration with academics at Oregon State University.

b) 'Low carbon politics' in a range of countries and how cultruasl politics affects deployment of different technologies (forthcoming book with Routledge).

d) The possibilities for China helping to meet the Paris targets on climate abatement, and the relationship of ecological modernisation theory to the case of China and carbon abatement (forthcoming book with Routledge).

c) Follow-up from the ESRC funded project 'Delivering Renewable Energy Under Devolution' - featuring a paper on the impact of the case study on federalist theory

d) Renewable energy policies in different countries, including a study of the emergence of renewable energy policies in South Africa

e) Research into factors associated with success in organising community renewable energy schemes. Dr Toke organised a conference to that effect hosted by the School of Social Science in November 2013. A report of this conference was posted at http://blogs.scotland.gov.uk/coastal-monitoring/2013/12/19/community-renewable-energy-schemes-in-scotland/



there were His most recent collaborations are:

a) He worked with academics form various universities to produce a Special Issue of the journal 'Environmental Politics' on the subject of the interaction of climate change and energy security. He has co-edited this Special Issue with Sevasti-Eleni Vezirgiannidou of the University of Birmingham. The Special Issue appeared in the July edition of 'Environmental Politics', and includes two papers where he is an author. See http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/fenp20/22/4#.UuzoktGPO1s


b) As mentioned earlier (see biography), he has also been collaborating with academics from Cardiff University, Queens University Belfast and Robert Gordon University on the ESRC funded project 'Delivering Renewable Energy Under Devolution' (DREUD). He is the lead author of the first output published in a journal, in the Political Quarterly. This is about renewable energy and the Scottish independence debate. See http://realfeed-intariffs.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/scottish-renewable-energy-targets-may.html This paper received considerable press attention. However, after this significant developments occurred in the UK energy policies, especially decisions taken by the UK Government concerning Electricity Market Reform, and this prompted a re-think of these conclusions. This re-think can be seen at http://issuu.com/therobertgordonuniversity/docs/the_dreud_report_2013

 c) As mentioned above he is collaborating with political scientists from Oregon State Univeristy in the USA to research the politics of advocacy of solar power.

Research Grants

  • Delivering Renewable Energy Under Devolution (co-investigator in project funded by ESRC  which began in January 2011 and which finished at the end of January 2013)
  • SEANERGY 2020- investigating and disseminating best practice in marine spatial planning for offshore renewables (partner in 2 year ALTENER project funded by the EU which started in May 2010)
  • Offshore wind power planning issues (funded by ASSC small grant from University of Bimringham - 2009)
  • EU Renewable Directive (funded privately by commission from World Future Council- 2007-2008)
  • Feed in Tariffs and UK energy strategy (funded privately by commission form World Future Council - 2007)
  • The use of combined heat and power as a means of integrating high levels of fluctuating renewable energy sources into the electricity grid (funded through DESIRE EU FP6 programme, 2005-2007)
  • The Politics of the Countryside Alliance (funded through ESRC, 2005)
  • The Politics of Food and Farming (funded through Leverhulme Trust, 2004)
  • Accounting for the Outcome of  Windfarm Planning Applications (funded through ESRC, 2002-2005)
  • A comparison of GM food policies in EU and US (funded through British Academy, 2003)
  • The Politics of GM Food (funded through ESRC, 2001-2002)

Teaching Responsibilities

Dr Toke's major teaching responsibilities include:

He is Programme Manager for the MSc in Energy Politics and Law. He teaches the courses 'Energy Politics' and 'International Energy Security' which form part of this Programme. He aslo supervises projects which students do for this programme. You can hear and see more about the Energy Politics and Law Programme at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GJRrZfTbJT8&feature=youtu.be

An event called the 'Future of Energy Conference' was held to promote the MSC Programme on 28th March 2018. Some of the recordings and also recordings of the presentations can be seen at: https://www.abdn.ac.uk/energy/events/the-future-of-energy-222.php

He convenes and teaches the final year undergraduate course 'Energy and Climate Politics'.

He is also principal PhD supervisor for a) Kathryn Wolfley, who is researching into shale gas in the USA and comparisons with elsewhere, and b) Wei See Chan who is researching into environmental issues in Malaysia and how they interact with governance c) Han Zhang who is researching environmental politics in China

Further Info

Admin Responsibilities

He is the Porgramme Manager of the MSc in Energy Politics and Law.

PhD supervision

Dr Toke is very much open to enthusiastic scholars wishing to pursue research at a PhD level especially in the area of energy and/or climate politics. 

Currently he is principal PhD supervisor for a) Kathryn Wolfley, who is researching into shale gas in the USA and comparisons with elsewhere, and b) Wei See Chan who is researching into environmental issues in Malaysia and how they interact with governance.



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  • Toke, D, Chun-Fung Chen, G, Froggatt, A & Connolly, R 2021, Nuclear Power in Stagnation: A Cultural Approach to Failed Expansion. Routledge, Abingdon.
  • Harnmeijer, J, Toke, D & Slee, B 2018, 'Community renewables in the UK - a clash of cultures?', International Journal of Technology Intelligence and Planning, vol. 12, no. 1, pp. 99-120. [Online] DOI: https://doi.org/10.1504/IJTIP.2018.094408
  • Toke, D 2018, Low Carbon Politics: A Cultural Approach Focusing on Low Carbon Electricity. Routledge, Abingdon, Oxon.
  • Toke, D 2017, China’s role in reducing carbon emissions: The stabilisation of energy consumption and the deployment of renewable energy. Taylor and Francis. [Online] DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315276946
  • Cowell, R, Ellis, G, Sherry-Brennan, F, Strachan, PA & Toke, D 2017, 'Energy transitions, sub-national government and regime flexibility: how has devolution in the United Kingdom affected renewable energy development?', Energy Research & Social Science, vol. 23, pp. 169-181. [Online] DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.erss.2016.10.006
  • Cowell, R, Ellis, G, Sherry-Brennan, F, Strachan, PA & Toke, D 2017, 'Rescaling the Governance of Renewable Energy: Lessons from the UK Devolution Experience', Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning, vol. 19, no. 5, pp. 480-502. [Online] DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/1523908X.2015.1008437
  • Cowell, R, Ellis, G, Sherry-Brennan, F, Strachan, PA & Toke, D 2017, 'Sub-national government and pathways to sustainable energy', Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space, vol. 35, no. 7, pp. 1139-1155. [Online] DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/2399654417730359
  • Toke, D & Baker, K 2016, 'Electricity Market Reform: So what's new?', Policy & Politics, vol. 44, no. 4, pp. 445-461. [Online] DOI: https://doi.org/10.1332/030557315X14412058989712
  • Verbruggen, A, Di Nucci, R, Fischedick, M, Haas, R, Hvelplund, F, Lauber, V, Lorenzonis, A, Mez, L, Nilsson, LJ, Del Rio Gonzalez, P, Schleich, J & Toke, D 2015, 'Europe’s electricity regime: Restoration or thorough transition', International Journal of Sustainable Energy Planning and Management, vol. 5, pp. 57-68. [Online] DOI: https://doi.org/10.5278/ijsepm.2015.5.6
  • Toke, D & Ørsted Nielsen, H 2015, 'Policy Consultation and Political Styles: Renewable energy consultations in the UK and Denmark', British Politics, vol. 10, no. 4, pp. 454-474. [Online] DOI: https://doi.org/10.1057/bp.2015.38
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