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Renewable Energy Risking Rights and Returns: An analysis of solar, bioenergy and geothermal companies’ human rights commitments

By Laura Waldman, Eniko Horvath and Christen Dobson - Business & Human Rights Resource Center, September 2018

Renewable energy has experienced a fourfold increase in investment in the past decade. Starting at $88 billion in 2005, new investments hit $349 billion in 2015.

This eye-catching rise in investments is a welcome trend and reflects international commitments to combatting climate change and providing access to energy in the Paris climate agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Climate change poses a grave threat to people and the planet, making a transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy a human rights imperative. Transitioning to renewable energy sources will reduce emissions and decrease pollution, thus mitigating the threats climate change poses to the rights of access to health, housing, food, and water. It will make energy accessible to more people. Investment must continue to rise in order to realise these goals.

However, the benefits of renewable energy risk being tainted by harms to people and livelihoods if the sector does not step up its engagement on human rights. This briefing shows that there is an alarmingly low level of engagement on human rights in the solar, bioenergy and geothermal industries, echoing findings from our previous analysis of wind and hydropower companies.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.