The world must ambitiously curtail greenhouse gas emissions to achieve climate stability. The literature often supposes that a low-carbon future will depend on a mix of technological innovation—improving the performance of new technologies and systems—as well as more sustainable behaviours such as travelling less or reducing waste. To what extent are low-carbon technologies, and their associated behaviours, currently equitable, and what are potential policy and research implications moving forward? In this Review, we examine how four innovations in technology and behaviour—improved cookstoves and heating, battery electric vehicles, household solar panels and food-sharing—create complications and force trade-offs on different equity dimensions. We draw from these cases to discuss a typology of inequity cutting across demographic (for example, gender, race and class), spatial (for example, urban and rural divides), interspecies (for example, human and non-human) and temporal (for example, future generations) vulnerabilities. Ultimately, the risk of inequity abounds in decarbonization pathways. Moreover, low-carbon innovations are not automatically just, equitable or even green. We show how such technologies and behaviours can both introduce new inequalities and reaffirm existing ones. We then discuss potential policy insights and leverage points to make future interventions more equitable and propose an integrated research agenda to supplement these policy efforts.
This is a preview of subscription content
Subscribe to Nature+
Get immediate online access to the entire Nature family of 50+ journals
Subscribe to Journal
Get full journal access for 1 year
only $9.92 per issue
All prices are NET prices.
VAT will be added later in the checkout.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.
All prices are NET prices.
Hertwich, E. G. & Peters, G. P. Carbon footprint of nations: a global, trade-linked analysis. Environ. Sci. Technol. 43, 6414–6420 (2009).
Dietz, T., Gardner, G. T., Gilligan, J., Stern, P. C. & Vandenbergh, M. P. Household actions can provide a behavioral wedge to rapidly reduce US carbon emissions. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 106, 18452–18456 (2009).
A Systemic Approach to the Energy Transition in Europe (SAPEA, 2021); https://www.sapea.info/topics/energy-transition/
Global Energy Sector CO2 Emissions Reductions by Current Technology Maturity Category in the Sustainable Development Scenrio relative to the Stated Policies Scenario, 2019–2070, https://www.iea.org/data-and-statistics/charts/global-energy-sector-co2-emissions-reductions-by-current-technology-maturity-category-in-the-sustainable-development-scenario-relative-to-the-stated-policies-scenario-2019-2070 (International Energy Agency, 2020).
Sachs, J. D., Schmidt-Traub, G. & Williams, J. Pathways to zero emissions. Nat. Geosci. 9, 799–801 (2016).
Nelson, S. & Allwood, J. M. Technology or behaviour? Balanced disruption in the race to net zero emissions. Energy Res. Soc. Sci. 78, 102124 (2021).
Stephenson, J. et al. Energy cultures and national decarbonisation pathways. Renew. Sustain. Energy Rev. 137 137, 110592 (2021).
IPCC. Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 °C. (eds Masson-Delmotteeds, V. et al.) (WMO, 2018).
Newell, P. et al. Cambridge sustainability commission report on scaling behaviour change. Rapid Transition Alliance (13 April 2021).
Moberg, K. R. et al. Barriers, emotions and motivational levers for lifestyle transformation in Norwegian household decarbonization pathways. Clim. Change 165, 3 (2021).
Ivanova, D. et al. Quantifying the potential for climate change mitigation of consumption options. Environ. Res. Lett. 15, 093001 (2020).
Whitmarsh, L., Capstick, S., Moore, I., Kohler, J. & Le Quere, C. Use of aviation by climate change researchers: structural influences, personal attitudes, and information provision. Glob. Environ. Change 65, 102184 (2020).
Dubois, G. et al. It starts at home? Climate policies targeting household consumption and behavioral decisions are key to low-carbon futures. Energy Res. Soc. Sci. 52, 144–158 (2019).
Lute, M. L., Attari, S. Z. & Sherman, S. J. Don’t rush to flush. J. Environ. Psychol. 43, 105–111 (2015).
Prior, R. An Ohio city has voted to grant Lake Erie the same rights as a person. CNN News, https://edition.cnn.com/2019/02/21/us/ohio-city-lake-erie-rights-trnd/index.html (27 February 2019).
Lewis A. et al. 1.5-Degree Lifestyles: Towards A Fair Consumption Space for All (Hot or Cool Institute, 2021).
Klinsky, S. & Winkler, H. Building equity in: strategies for integrating equity into modelling for a 1.5 °C world. Philos. Trans. A Math Phys. Eng. Sci. 376, 20160461 (2018).
Hoegh-Guldberg, O. et al. The human imperative of stabilizing global climate change at 1.5 °C. Science 365, eaaw6974 (2019).
Lamb, W. F. et al. What are the social outcomes of climate policies? A systematic map and review of the ex-post literature. Environ. Res. Lett. 15, 113006 (2020).
Kartha, S., Caney, S., Dubash, N. K. & Muttitt, G. Whose carbon is burnable? Equity considerations in the allocation of a ‘right to extract. Clim. Change 150, 117–129 (2018b).
Rendall, M. Discounting, climate change, and the ecological fallacy. Ethics 129, 441–463 (2019).
IPCC. Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis (eds Masson-Delmotte, V. et al.) (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2021).
Creutzig, F. et al. Reviewing the scope and thematic focus of 100,000 publications on energy consumption, services and social aspects of climate change: a big data approach to demand-side mitigation. Environ. Res. Lett. 16, 033001 (2021).
Carley, S., Evans, T. P. & Konisky, D. M. Adaptation, culture, and the energy transition in American coal country. Energy Res. Soc. Sci. 37, 133–139 (2018).
Asmal, K. Introduction: World Commission on dams report, dams and development. Am. Univ. Int. Law Rev. 16, 1411–1433 (2001).
Kawaguchi, D. & Yukutake, N. Estimating the residential land damage of the Fukushima nuclear accident. J. Urban Econ. 99, 148–160 (2017).
Sovacool, B. K., Perea, M. A. M., Matamoros, A. V. & Enevoldsen, P. Valuing the externalities of wind energy: assessing the environmental profit and loss of wind turbines in Northern Europe. Wind Energy 19, 1623–1647 (2016).
Fairhead, J., Leach, M. & Scoones, I. Green grabbing: a new appropriation of nature? J. Peasant Stud. 39, 237–261 (2012).
Druckman, A., Chitnis, M., Sorrell, S. & Jackson, T. Missing carbon reductions? Exploring rebound and backfire effects in UK households. Energy Policy 39, 3572–3581 (2011).
Sovacool, B. K. & Griffiths, S. Culture and low-carbon energy transitions. Nat. Sustain. 3, 685–693 (2020).
Frankowska, A., Jeswani, H. K. & Azapagic, A. Environmental impacts of vegetables consumption in the UK. Sci. Total Environ. 682, 80–105 (2019).
Herforth, A. et al. Cost and Affordability of Healthy Diets across and within Countries: Background Paper for The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2020. FAO Agricultural Development Economics Technical Study No. 9) (FAO, 2020).
Axsen, J. & Sovacool, B. K. The roles of users in electric, shared, and automated mobility transitions. Transp. Res. Part D Trans. Environ. 71, 1–21 (2019).
Access to Clean Cooking https://www.iea.org/reports/sdg7-data-and-projections/access-to-clean-cooking (International Energy Agency, accessed 2 August 2 2021).
Brown, M. A. & B. K. Sovacool. Climate Change and Global Energy Security: Technology and Policy Options (MIT Press, 2011)
Bailis, R. et al. Arresting the killer in the kitchen: the promises and pitfalls of commercializing improved cookstoves. World Develop. 37, 1694–1705 (2009).
Bailis, R., Drigo, R., Ghilardi, A. & Masera, O. The carbon footprint of traditional woodfuels. Nat. Clim. Change 5, 266–272 (2015).
Smith, K. R. et al. Millions dead: how do we know and what does it mean? Methods used in the comparative risk assessment of household air pollution. Annu. Rev. Public Health 35, 185–206 (2014).
Das, K., Pradhan, G. & Nonhebel, S. Human energy and time spent by women using cooking energy systems: a case study of Nepal. Energy 182, 493–501 (2019).
Sovacool, B. K. et al. The energy–enterprise–gender nexus: lessons from the Multifunctional Platform (MFP) in Mali. Renew. Energy 50, 115–125 (2013).
Osunmuyiwa, O. & Ahlborg, H. Inclusiveness by design? Reviewing sustainable electricity access and entrepreneurship from a gender perspective. Energy Res. Soc. Sci. 53, 145–158 (2019).
Johnson, O. W., Gerber, V. & Muhoza, C. Gender, culture and energy transitions in rural Africa. Energy Res. Soc. Sci. 49, 169–179 (2019).
Bhattarai, D., Somanathan, E. & Nepal, M. Are renewable energy subsidies in Nepal reaching the poor? Energy Sustain. Develop. 43, 114–122 (2018).
Jan, I. & Das Lohano, H. Uptake of energy efficient cookstoves in Pakistan. Renew. Sustain. Energy Rev. 137, 110466 (2021).
Khanwilkar, S., Gould, C. F., DeFries, R., Habib, B. & Urpelainen, J. Firewood, forests, and fringe populations: exploring the inequitable socioeconomic dimensions of liquified petroleum gas (LPG) adoption in India. Energy Res. Soc. Sci. 75, 102012 (2021).
Patnaik, S. & Jha, S. Caste, class and gender in determining access to energy: a critical review of LPG adoption in India. Energy Res. Soc. Sci. 67, 101530 (2020).
Khandelwal, M. et al. Why have improved cook-stove initiatives in India failed? World Dev. 92, 13–27 (2017).
Otte, P. P. A (new) cultural turn toward solar cooking—evidence from six case studies across India and Burkina Faso. Energy Res. Soc. Sci. 2, 49–58 (2014).
Oluwakemi, A., Jewitt, S. & Clifford, M. Culture, tradition, and taboo: understanding the social shaping of fuel choices and cooking practices in Nigeria. Energy Res. Soc. Sci. 40, 14–22 (2018).
Coyfe, R. Solar cooker dissemination and cultural variables. Solar Cookers International Network http://solarcooking.org/advocacy/ dissemination_and_culture.htm (2006).
Smith, K. R., Gu, S., Kun, H. & Daxiong, Q. One hundred million improved cookstoves in China: how was it done? World Dev. 21, 941–961 (1993).
Kishore, V. V. N. & Ramana, P. V. Improved cookstoves in rural India: how improved are they? A critique of the perceived benefits from the National Programme on Improved Chulhas (NPIC). Energy 27, 47–63 (2002).
Adler, M. W., Peer, S. & Sinozic, T. Autonomous, connected, electric shared vehicles (ACES) and public finance: an explorative analysis. Transp. Res. Interdiscip. Perspect. 2, 100038 (2019).
Graham-Rowe, E. et al. Mainstream consumers driving plug-in battery-electric and plug-in hybrid electric cars: a qualitative analysis of responses and evaluations. Transp. Res. Part A Policy Pract. 46, 140–153 (2012).
Seebauer, S. The psychology of rebound effects: explaining energy efficiency rebound behaviours with electric vehicles and building insulation in Austria. Energy Res. Soc. Sci. 46, 311–320 (2018).
Sovacool, B. K., Hook, A., Martiskainen, M. & Baker, L. The whole systems energy injustice of four European low-carbon transitions. Glob. Environ. Change 58, 101958 (2019).
Langbroek, J. H. M., Franklin, J. P. & Susilo, Y. O. How would you change your travel patterns if you used an electric vehicle? A stated adaptation approach. Travel Behav. Soc. 13, 144–154 (2018).
Hamamoto, M. An empirical study on the behavior of hybrid-electric vehicle purchasers. Energy Policy 125, 286–292 (2019).
Kester, J. et al. Novel or normal? Electric vehicles and the dialectic transition of Nordic automobility. Energy Res. Soc. Sci. 69, 101642 (2020).
Sovacool, B. K. et al. Decarbonization and its discontents: a critical energy justice perspective on four low-carbon transitions. Clim. Change 155, 581–619 (2019).
Henderson, J. M. EVs are not the answer: a mobility justice critique of electric vehicle transitions. Ann. Am. Assoc. Geogr. 110, 1993–2010 (2020).
Sovacool, B. K., Kester, J., Noel, L. & de Rubens, G. Z. Energy injustice and Nordic electric mobility: inequality, elitism, and externalities in the electrification of vehicle-to-grid (V2G) transport. Ecol. Econ. 157, 205–217 (2019).
Borenstein, S. & Davis, L. W. The distributional effects of U. S. clean energy tax credits. Tax. Policy Econ. 30, 191–234 (2016).
Sovacool, B. K., Kester, J., Noel, L. & de Rubens, G. Z. The demographics of decarbonizing transport: the influence of gender, education, occupation, age, and household size on electric mobility preferences in the Nordic region. Glob. Environ. Change 52, 86–100 (2018).
Sovacool, B. K. The precarious political economy of cobalt: balancing prosperity, poverty, and brutality in artisanal and industrial mining in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Extr. Ind. Soc. 6, 915–939 (2019).
Hornborg, A. & Martinez-Alier, J. Ecologically unequal exchange and ecological debt. J. Polit. Ecol. 23, 328–333 (2016).
Skeete, J.-P., Wells, P., Dong, X., Heidrich, O. & Harper, G. Beyond the EVent horizon: battery waste, recycling, and sustainability in the United Kingdom electric vehicle transition. Energy Res. Soc. Sci. 69, 101581 (2020).
Morse, I. A dead battery dilemma. Science 372, 780–783 (2021).
Sovacool, B. K., Hook, A., Martiskainen, M., Brock, A. & Turnheim, B. The decarbonisation divide: contextualizing landscapes of low-carbon exploitation and toxicity in Africa. Glob. Environ. Change 60, 102028 (2020).
Dharshing, S. Household dynamics of technology adoption: a spatial econometric analysis of residential solar photovoltaic (PV) systems in Germany. Energy Res. Soc. Sci. 23, 113–124 (2017).
Sovacool, B. K., Lipson, M. & Chard, R. Temporality, vulnerability, and energy justice in household low carbon innovations. Energy Policy 128, 495–504 (2019).
Walker, G. Decentralised systems and fuel poverty: are there any links or risks? Energy Policy 36, 4514–4517 (2008).
Barbose, G. L., Forrester, S. O’Shaughnessy, E. & Darghouth, N. R. Residential Solar-Adopter Income and Demographic Trends: 2021 Update (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, 2021).
Wadim, S., Štreimikienė, D. & Bilan, Y. Network charging and residential tariffs: a case of household photovoltaics in the United Kingdom. Renew. Sustain. Energy Rev. 77, 461–473 (2017).
Weber, G. & Cabras, I. The transition of Germany’s energy production, green economy, low-carbon economy, socio-environmental conflicts, and equitable society. J. Clean. Prod. 167, 1222–1231 (2017).
Burger, J. & Gochfeld, M. A conceptual framework evaluating ecological footprints and monitoring renewable energy: wind, solar, hydro, and geothermal. Energy Power Eng. 4, 303–314 (2012).
Sundqvist, T. What causes the disparity of electricity externality estimates? Energy Policy 32, 1753–1766 (2004).
Nugent, D. & Sovacool, B. K. Assessing the lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions from solar PV and wind energy: a critical meta-survey. Energy Policy 64, 229–244 (2014).
Mulvaney, D. Opening the black box of solar energy technologies: exploring tensions between innovation and environmental justice. Sci. Cult. 22, 230–237 (2013).
Brock, A., Sovacool, B. K. & Hook, A. Volatile photovoltaics: green industrialization, sacrifice zones, and the political ecology of solar energy in Germany. Ann. Am. Assoc. Geogr. 111, 1756–1778 (2021).
Sovacool, B. K. Who are the victims of low-carbon transitions? Towards a political ecology of climate change mitigation. Energy Res. Soc. Sci. 73, 101916 (2021).
Mulvaney, D. Are green jobs just jobs? Cadmium narratives in the life cycle of photovoltaics. Geoforum 54, 178–186 (2014).
Cross, J. & Murray, D. The afterlives of solar power: waste and repair off the grid in Kenya. Energy Res. Soc. Sci. 44, 100–109 (2018).
Salim, H. K., Stewart, R. A., Sahin, O. & Dudley, M. Drivers, barriers and enablers to end-of-life management of solar photovoltaic and battery energy storage systems: a systematic literature review. J. Clean. Prod. 20, 537–554 (2019).
National Academies of Sciences Engineering, and Medicine. Reducing Impacts of Food Loss and Waste: Proceedings of a Workshop (The National Academies Press, 2019).
Ciaghi, A. & Villafiorita, A. Beyond food sharing: supporting food waste reduction with ICTs. In Proc. 2016 IEEE International Smart Cities Conference (ISC2) 1–6 (IEEE, 2016).
Glynn, I. The food-sharing behavior of protohuman hominids. Sci. Am. 238, 90–109 (1978).
Kafafi, Z. A. Sharing food eating from one plate: an ethno-archaeological study. Adumatu July, 7–18 (2014).
Gvion, L. Cuisines of poverty as means of empowerment: Arab food in Israel. Agric. Hum. Values 23, 299–312 (2006).
Davies, A. R. & Legg, R. Fare sharing: interrogating the nexus of ICT, urban food sharing, and sustainability. Food Cult. Soc. 21, 233–254 (2018).
Jehlička, P., Daněk, P. & Vávra, J. Rethinking resilience: home gardening, food sharing and everyday resistance. Can. J. Develop. Stud. 40, 511–527 (2019).
Davies, A. R. et al. Making visible: interrogating the performance of food sharing across 100 urban areas. Geoforum 86, 136–149 (2017).
Mattar, L. et al. Attitudes and behaviors shaping household food waste generation: lessons from Lebanon. J. Clean. Prod. 198, 1219–1223 (2018).
Visschers, V. H. M., Wickli, N. & Siegrist, M. Sorting out food waste behaviour: a survey on the motivators and barriers of self-reported amounts of food waste in households. J. Environ. Psychol. 45, 66–78 (2016).
Ready, E. & Power, E. A. Why wage earners hunt: food sharing, social structure, and influence in an Arctic mixed economy. Curr. Anthropol. 59, 74–97 (2018).
Zurek, K. Food sharing in Europe: between regulating risks and the risks of regulating. Eur. J. Risk Regul. 7, 675–687 (2016).
Morone, P. et al. Does food sharing lead to food waste reduction? An experimental analysis to assess challenges and opportunities of a new consumption model. J. Clean. Prod. 185, 749–760 (2018).
Michelini, L., Principato, L. & Iasevoli, G. Understanding food sharing models to tackle sustainability challenges. Ecol. Econ. 145, 205–217 (2018).
Schanes, K. & Stagl, S. Food waste fighters: what motivates people to engage in food sharing? J. Clean. Prod. 211, 1491–1501 (2019).
Sunter, D. A., Castellanos, S. & Kammen, D. M. Disparities in rooftop photovoltaics deployment in the United States by race and ethnicity. Nat. Sustain. 2, 71–76 (2019).
Nussbaum, M. C. Frontiers of Justice: Disability, Nationality, Species Membership (Harvard Univ. Press, 2007).
Nash, R. The Rights of Nature: A History of Environmental Ethics (Univ. of Wisconsin Press, 1990).
Merskin, D. in Communicating Responsible Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion. Public Relations for Social Responsibility: Affirming DEI Commitment with Action (ed. Pompper, D.) 103–119 (Emerald Publishing, 2021).
Mackenbach, J. P. Inter-species health equity. Eur. J. Public Health 31, 241 (2021).
Blount-Hill, K.-L. Proposing a social identity theory of interspecies dominance. Biol. Conserv. 254, 108969 (2021).
Thiery, W. et al. Intergenerational inequities in exposure to climate extremes. Science 374, 158–160 (2021).
The Path to Net Zero: Climate Assembly UK Full Report https://www.climateassembly.uk/report/ (Citizen Assembly UK, 2020).
Boyd, E. et al. Anticipatory governance for social-ecological resilience. AMBIO 44, 149–161 (2015).
Folke, C., Hahn, T., Olsson, P. & Norberg, J. Adaptive governance of social ecological systems. Annu. Rev. Environ. Resour. 30, 441–473 (2005).
Deason, J., Leventis, G. &. Murphy, S. Performance of Solar Leasing for Low- and Middle-income Customers in Connecticut (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, 2021).
Ellegård, A., Arvidson, A., Nordström, M., Kalumiana, O. S. & Mwanza, C. Rural people pay for solar: experiences from the Zambia PV-ESCO project. Renew. Energy 29, 1251–1263 (2004).
Chan, G., Evans, I., Grimley, M., Ihde, B. & Mazumder, P. Design choices and equity implications of community shared solar. Electr. J. 30, 37–41 (2017).
Weber, G., Cabras, I., Calaf-Forn, M., Puig-Ventosa, I. & D’Alisa, G. Promoting waste degrowth and environmental justice at a local level: the case of unit-pricing schemes in Spain. Ecol. Econ. 156, 306–317 (2019).
Green, F. & Gambhir, A. Transitional assistance policies for just, equitable and smooth low-carbon transitions: who, what and how? Clim. Policy 20, 902–921 (2020).
Newell, P. Managing multinationals: the Governance of investment for the environment. J. Int. Dev. 13, 907–919 (2001).
Zeng, X., Mathews, J. A. & Li, J. Urban mining of e-waste is becoming more cost-effective than virgin mining. Environ. Sci. Technol. 52, 4835–4841 (2018).
Lapko, Y., Trianni, A., Nuur, C. & Masi, D. In pursuit of closed loop supply chains for critical materials: an exploratory study in the green energy sector. J. Ind. Ecol. https://doi.org/10.1111/jiec.12741 (2018).
Recycling Workshop Highlights. NAATBatt International https://naatbatt.org/recycling-workshop-highlights-the-importance-of-recycling-ev-batteries/ (9–10 July 2019).
Chilvers, J. et al. A systemic approach to mapping participation with low-carbon energy transitions. Nat. Energy 6, 250–259 (2021).
Sovacool, B. K & Dworkin, M. H. Global Energy Justice. Problems, Principles, and Practices (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2014).
Proposal for a High Commissioner/Ombudsperson for Future Generations: Reflections on the Negotiation Process. World Future Council http://sdg.iisd.org/commentary/guest-articles/proposal-for-a-high-commissionerombudsperson-for-futuregenerationsreflections-on-the-negotiation-process/ (23 April 2012).
Bouzarovski, S. & Simcock, N. Spatializing energy justice. Energy Policy 107, 640–648 (2017).
Bell, S. et al. Sociality and electricity in the United Kingdom: the influence of household dynamics on everyday consumption. Energy Res. Soc. Sci. 9, 98–106 (2015).
Carley, S., Engle, C. & Konisky, D. M. An analysis of energy justice programs across the United States. Energy Policy 152, 112219 (2021).
Gender Tool Kit: Energy: Going Beyond the Meter (Asian Development Bank, 2012).
Lennon, M. Decolonizing energy: Black Lives Matter and technoscientific expertise amid solar transitions. Energy Res. Soc. Sci. 30, 18–27 (2017).
Ryder, S. S. Developing an intersectionally-informed, multi-sited, critical policy ethnography to examine power and procedural justice in multiscalar energy and climate change decisionmaking processes. Energy Res. Soc. Sci. 45, 266–275 (2018).
Lieu, J., Sorman, A. H., Johnson, O. W., Virla, L. D. & Resurrección, B. P. Three sides to every story: gender perspectives in energy transition pathways in Canada, Kenya and Spain. Energy Res. Soc. Sci. 68, 101550 (2020).
Burningham, K. & Venn, S. Are lifecourse transitions opportunities for moving to more sustainable consumption? J. Consum. Cult. 20, 102–121 (2020).
Snell, C., Bevan, M & Thomson, H. Justice, fuel poverty and disabled people in England. Energy Res. Soc. Sci. 10, 123–132 (2015).
Mould, R. & Baker, K. J. Documenting fuel poverty from the householders’ perspective. Energy Res. Soc. Sci. 31, 21–31 (2017).
Hernández, D. Understanding ‘energy insecurity’ and why it matters to health. Soc. Sci. Med. 167, 1–10 (2016).
Carley, S., Evans, T. P., Graff, M. & Konisky, D. M. A framework for evaluating geographic disparities in energy transition vulnerability. Nat. Energy 3, 621–627 (2018).
Newell, P., Daley, F. & Twena, M. Changing Our Ways? Behaviour Change and the Climate Crisis. Report of the Cambridge Sustainability Commission on Scaling Behaviour Change (Cambridge Sustainability Commission, 2021).
Emissions Gap Report 2020 (UNEP, 2020).
Kasser, T. The High Price of Materialism (MIT Press, 2002).
Wilkinson, R. G. & Pickett, K. The Spirit Level: Why Equality Is Better for Everyone (Allen Lane, 2009).
Adams, C., Taylor, P. & Bell, S. Equity dimensions of micro-generation: a whole systems approach. J. Renew. Sustain. Energy https://doi.org/10.1063/1.4759454 (2012).
Healy, N., Stephens, J. C. & Malin, S. A. Embodied energy injustices: unveiling and politicizing the transboundary harms of fossil fuel extractivism and fossil fuel supply chains. Energy Res. Soc. Sci. 48, 219–234 (2019).
Capstick, S., Lorenzoni, I., Corner, A. & Whitmarsh, L. Prospects for radical emissions reduction through behavior and lifestyle change. Carbon Manag. 5, 429–445 (2015).
Carley, S. Normative dimensions of sustainable energy policy. Ethics Policy Environ. 14, 211–229 (2011).
Kenner, D. Carbon Inequality: The Role of the Richest in Climate Change (Routledge, 2019).
Newell, P., Twena, M. & Daley F. Scaling behaviour change for a 1.5 degree world: challenges and opportunities. Global Sustainability https://doi.org/10.1017/sus.2021.23 (2021).
Hsu, A. et al. Beyond states: harnessing sub-national actors for the deep decarbonisation of cities, regions, and businesses. Energy Res. Soc. Sci. 70, 101738 (2020).
Stirling, A. Analysis, participation and power: justification and closure in participatory multi-criteria analysis. Land Use Policy 1, 95–107 (2006).
Gilio-Whitaker, D. As Long as Grass Grows: The Indigenous Fight for Environmental Justice, from Colonization to Standing Rock (Beacon Press, 2019).
Roy, E. A. New Zealand river granted same legal rights as human being. Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/16/new-zealand-river-granted-same-legal-rights-as-human-being (16 March 2017).
Sovacool, B. K., Turnheim, B., Hook, A., Brock, A. & Martiskainen, M. Dispossessed by decarbonisation: reducing vulnerability, injustice, and inequality in the lived experience of low-carbon pathways. World Dev. 137, 105116 (2021).
Schwartz Cowan, R. More Work for Mother: The Ironies of Household Technology from the Open Hearth to the Microwave (Basic Books, 1983).
Geels, F. W. et al. Reducing energy demand through low carbon innovation: a sociotechnical transitions perspective and thirteen research debates. Energy Res. Soc. Sci. 40, 23–35 (2018).
The authors declare no competing interests.
Peer review information
Nature Human Behaviour thanks Fergus Green, Claire Hoolohan and Gabriel Weber for their contribution to the peer review of this work.
Publisher’s note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
About this article
Cite this article
Sovacool, B.K., Newell, P., Carley, S. et al. Equity, technological innovation and sustainable behaviour in a low-carbon future. Nat Hum Behav 6, 326–337 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41562-021-01257-8