Substantiating Energy Justice: Creating a Space to Understand Energy Dilemmas (2020)

Wood, N.; Roelich, K. Substantiating Energy Justice: Creating a Space to Understand Energy Dilemmas. Sustainability 202012, 1917.

This paper explores the relationships between the moral philosophical foundations and strategic goals of two conceptions of energy justice: the “triumvirate conception” and the “principled approach”. We explore the extent to which the goals of these approaches align with their core aims and strategies. Having initially been developed to capture and reflect the values of activist-led environmental justice movements, we find that the triumvirate approach’s adoption of a trivalent conception of justice currently lies in tension with its overarching top-down approach. We note that the principled approach does not face the same tensions as the triumvirate conception of energy justice, but would benefit from illustrating the consequences of framing the same energy dilemma with conflicting moral theories. Aiming to ameliorate these limitations and further develop conceptions of energy justice, we outline a case study of hydro power in Hirakud, India and propose a framework which illustrates how using differing theories of justice to conceptualise the same energy dilemmas can result in substantially different normative framings and guidance. We illustrate how this framework, combined with a pluralistic appeal to moral theory, can enable both approaches to draw on a wider range of moral theory to assess energy dilemmas. This in turn provides a broader socio-political backdrop in which to view energy dilemmas. We outline how this backdrop contributes to the creation of a space in which the grievances of those who suffer in relation to energy systems can be heard and better understood.

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