Conceptual frameworks and new frontiers in energy justice
This presentation explores how concepts from justice and ethics can inform energy decision-making and highlight the futurity, fairness, and equity dimensions of energy production and use. It defines "energy justice" as a global energy system that fairly distributes both the benefits and costs of energy services, and one that contributes to more representative and inclusive energy decision-making. Such an assessment brings together core understandings of distributional and procedural justice alongside cosmopolitan interpretations of equity and recognitional notions of fairness. The presentation then focuses on six new frontiers or fruitful areas of future research. First is making the case for the involvement of non-Western justice theorists. Second is expanding beyond humans to look at the Rights of Nature or non-anthropocentric notions of justice. Third is focusing on cross-scalar issues of justice such as embodied emissions. Fourth is identifying business models and the co-benefits of justice. Fifth is better understanding the tradeoffs within energy justice principles. Sixth is confronting utopian or falsely constructed justice discourses. In doing so, the article presents an agenda constituted by 30 research questions. It argues in favor of "justice-aware" energy planning and policymaking, and it hopes that its (reconsidered) energy justice conceptual framework offers a critical tool to inform decision-making.
Dr. Benjamin K. Sovacool is Professor of Energy Policy at the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) at the School of Business, Management, and Economics, part of the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom. There he serves as Director of the Sussex Energy Group and Director of the Center on Innovation and Energy Demand which involves the University of Oxford and the University of Manchester. Professor Sovacool works as a researcher and consultant on issues pertaining to energy policy, energy security, climate change mitigation, and climate change adaptation. More specifically, his research focuses on renewable energy and energy efficiency, the politics of large-scale energy infrastructure, designing public policy to improve energy security and access to electricity, and building adaptive capacity to the consequences of climate change.