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Empowering Energy Justice

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ABSTRACT

The U.S. is experiencing unprecedented movement away from coal and, to a lesser degree, oil. Burdened low-income communities and people of color could experience health benefits from reductions in air and water pollution, yet these same groups could suffer harm if transitions lack broad public input or if policies prioritize elite or corporate interests. This paper highlights how U.S. energy transitions build from, and contribute to, environmental injustices. Energy justice requires not only ending disproportionate harm, it also entails involvement in the design of solutions and fair distribution of benefits, such as green jobs and clean air. To what extent does the confluence of state, civic, and market processes assure “just” transitions to clean, low-carbon energy production involving equitable distribution of costs, benefits, and decision-making power? To explore this question we assess trends with (1) fossil fuel divestment; (2) carbon taxes and social cost of carbon measurements; (3) cap-and-trade; (4) renewable energy; and (5) energy efficiency. Current research demonstrates opportunities and pitfalls in each area with mixed or partial energy justice consequences, leading to our call for greater attention to the specifics of distributive justice, procedural justice, and recognition justice in research, policy, and action. Illustrative energy transition case studies suggest the feasibility and benefit of empowering approaches, but also indicate there can be conflict between “green” and “just”, as evident though stark inequities in clean energy initiatives. To identify positive pathways forward, we compile priorities for an energy justice research agenda based on interactive and participatory practices aligning advocacy, activism, and academics.

No MeSH data available.


“Break Free” Protests in Washington, DC (Photo credits: Mary Finley-Brook).
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ijerph-13-00926-f002: “Break Free” Protests in Washington, DC (Photo credits: Mary Finley-Brook).

Mentions: Anti-fossil fuel protests are occurring throughout the world with increasing frequency. National and international networks organizing and participating in these rallies generally include a relatively limited number of EJ and CJ groups amidst many non-governmental organizations (NGOs), faith-based groups, and concerned citizens motivated to take a proactive role in determining the speed and direction of energy transitions. “Break Free” actions in May of 2016 involved protests on six continents, including blockades at several coal and gas sites leading to arrests. In Washington, DC, frontline communities from the Arctic, Atlantic, and Gulf (Figure 2) led a rally and protest march to denounce offshore oil drilling and sea-level rise, stating “the seas are rising and so are we”. This phrase expresses momentum toward and desire for procedural justice.


Empowering Energy Justice
“Break Free” Protests in Washington, DC (Photo credits: Mary Finley-Brook).
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC5036759&req=5

ijerph-13-00926-f002: “Break Free” Protests in Washington, DC (Photo credits: Mary Finley-Brook).
Mentions: Anti-fossil fuel protests are occurring throughout the world with increasing frequency. National and international networks organizing and participating in these rallies generally include a relatively limited number of EJ and CJ groups amidst many non-governmental organizations (NGOs), faith-based groups, and concerned citizens motivated to take a proactive role in determining the speed and direction of energy transitions. “Break Free” actions in May of 2016 involved protests on six continents, including blockades at several coal and gas sites leading to arrests. In Washington, DC, frontline communities from the Arctic, Atlantic, and Gulf (Figure 2) led a rally and protest march to denounce offshore oil drilling and sea-level rise, stating “the seas are rising and so are we”. This phrase expresses momentum toward and desire for procedural justice.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

ABSTRACT

The U.S. is experiencing unprecedented movement away from coal and, to a lesser degree, oil. Burdened low-income communities and people of color could experience health benefits from reductions in air and water pollution, yet these same groups could suffer harm if transitions lack broad public input or if policies prioritize elite or corporate interests. This paper highlights how U.S. energy transitions build from, and contribute to, environmental injustices. Energy justice requires not only ending disproportionate harm, it also entails involvement in the design of solutions and fair distribution of benefits, such as green jobs and clean air. To what extent does the confluence of state, civic, and market processes assure “just” transitions to clean, low-carbon energy production involving equitable distribution of costs, benefits, and decision-making power? To explore this question we assess trends with (1) fossil fuel divestment; (2) carbon taxes and social cost of carbon measurements; (3) cap-and-trade; (4) renewable energy; and (5) energy efficiency. Current research demonstrates opportunities and pitfalls in each area with mixed or partial energy justice consequences, leading to our call for greater attention to the specifics of distributive justice, procedural justice, and recognition justice in research, policy, and action. Illustrative energy transition case studies suggest the feasibility and benefit of empowering approaches, but also indicate there can be conflict between “green” and “just”, as evident though stark inequities in clean energy initiatives. To identify positive pathways forward, we compile priorities for an energy justice research agenda based on interactive and participatory practices aligning advocacy, activism, and academics.

No MeSH data available.