What is Energy Justice?
Energy plays a vital part in human survival. In today’s world, it is used to address challenges such as sustainability, economic development, food production, and climate change. Despite its importance, energy production, conversion, delivery, and use are riddled with injustices. To make matters worse, energy inequalities promote other forms of inequalities such as economic, social, and political ones. This is why it is so important to strive for equality within the energy system.
The foundation of Energy Justice is heavily inspired by the environmental justice movement which is grounded in larger issues of representation, economic relations between state, firms, and social groups. The three-justice principles of Energy Justice are distributional, recognition, and procedural.
- Distributional justice: Focused on the injustices regarding the physical benefits and risks of energy systems such as the location of production facilities or the access to energy services.
- Procedural justice: This part calls for equal and fair procedures. Everyone regardless of social status, income, or race should be allowed to participate in decision-making processes. An area where this can be applied is the overlooking indigenous knowledge of the local environment and dismissal of their concerns regarding energy projects.
- Recognition justice: Focused on identifying which part of society is affected by injustice. It is about recognizing the need of others and address these. An example of this is to recognize that elders and sick people might need to have warmer apartments than other individuals and are as such at a higher risk of experiencing energy poverty.
Additional justice principles have also been proposed to be included in the framework:
- Restorative justice: The focus is to restore harm done to the victims (people, society, nature) rather than focusing on punishing the offender. An example of this is that a project developer must make sure that all the environmental obligations have been fulfilled once a project has been completed and that they work with the community throughout the lifespan of the project.
- Cosmopolitan justice is grounded in the belief that justice does not stop at the border. Every human being has equal value regardless of ethnicity, gender, or social status. With this comes the collective responsibility of sharing burdens and rewards. Climate change is a great example of where this can be applied.