Perspective | Published:

Energy decisions reframed as justice and ethical concerns

Nature Energy volume 1, Article number: 16024 (2016) | Download Citation

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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Author information

Affiliations

  1. Department of Business Development and Technology, Aarhus University, Birk Centerpark 15, DK-7400, Herning 7400, Denmark.

    • Benjamin K. Sovacool
  2. Science Policy Research Unit, University of Sussex, Sussex House, Falmer, Brighton BN1 9RH, UK.

    • Benjamin K. Sovacool
  3. Energy and Natural Resources Law Institute, Queen Mary University of London, 67-69 Lincoln's Inn Fields, London WC2A 3JB, UK.

    • Raphael J. Heffron
  4. Department of Geography and Sustainable Development, University of St. Andrews, Irvine Building, North Street, St. Andrews, Fife KY16 9AL, UK.

    • Darren McCauley
  5. Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University, 79 John F. Kennedy Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA.

    • Andreas Goldthau
  6. School of Public Policy, Central European University, Nador ut. 9, Budapest 1051, Hungary.

    • Andreas Goldthau

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Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Benjamin K. Sovacool.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nenergy.2016.24

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