Energy justice in the developing world: a review of theoretical frameworks, key research themes and policy implications

Lacey-Barnacle, Max, Robison, Rosie and Foulds, Chris (2020) Energy justice in the developing world: a review of theoretical frameworks, key research themes and policy implications. Energy for Sustainable Development, 55. pp. 122-138. ISSN 0973-0826

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Energy justice, building on foundations within both the field of environmental justice and wider justice scholarship, has grown rapidly as a research field over recent years. However, the dominant energy justice theoretical frameworks, and many of the field's core case studies, originate from work in developed countries, with energy justice research only recently spreading to new areas of the world. This paper thus systematically reviews the current state of ‘developing economy’ and ‘economy in transition’ literature in the energy justice field. In doing this we analyse the (1) methods, energy types and locations explored thus far, unearthing key gaps, as well as (2) the multitude of ‘justice-led’ theoretical frameworks used. We also identify core themes illuminated by energy justice research in the developing world, including: (3) decentralisation, access and sustainability, (4) exposing institutional instability and corruption, (5) acknowledging marginalised communities and gender inequalities, while extracting key (6) policy implications. Vital questions are raised for the continued advancement of energy justice research into new contexts and thus its conceptual evolution. Our review highlights the potential for energy justice-led attention to expand current institutional, contextual and empirical scope in specific ways, including greater attention to the poorest global regions, and certain energy technologies including nuclear and CCS. We suggest four ways in which future theoretical developments of the field might take place: (i) greater attention to spatial analyses of neglected regions; (ii) expanding the field to further include non-western philosophical traditions; (iii) more work on applying tenets, frameworks and principles specific to energy justice and (iv) systems approaches to developed-developing country relations, with an emphasis on how they relate to low-carbon transitions. Thus, while we explore past and present applications of energy justice in developing world contexts, we also offer guidance on the ways in which it could be applied in the future, alongside encouraging dialogue between different ‘justice’ fields.

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: Three-tenets, Environmental justice, Decentralisation, Energy access, Marginalised communities, Renewable energy
Faculty: Faculty of Science & Engineering
Depositing User: Lisa Blanshard
Date Deposited: 28 Apr 2020 15:09
Last Modified: 09 Sep 2021 18:53

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