Energy decisions reframed as justice and ethical concerns

Abstract

All too often, energy policy and technology discussions are limited to the domains of engineering and economics. Many energy consumers, and even analysts and policymakers, confront and frame energy and climate risks in a moral vacuum, rarely incorporating broader social justice concerns. Here, to remedy this gap, we investigate how concepts from justice and ethics can inform energy decision-making by reframing five energy problems — nuclear waste, involuntary resettlement, energy pollution, energy poverty and climate change — as pressing justice concerns. We conclude by proposing an energy justice framework centred on availability, affordability, due process, transparency and accountability, sustainability, equity and responsibility, which highlights the futurity, fairness and equity dimensions of energy production and use.

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Figure 1: Disparities in electricity consumption between New York state and sub-Saharan Africa.

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Correspondence to Benjamin K. Sovacool.

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Sovacool, B., Heffron, R., McCauley, D. et al. Energy decisions reframed as justice and ethical concerns. Nat Energy 1, 16024 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1038/nenergy.2016.24

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