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Politicizing energy justice and energy system transitions: Fossil fuel divestment and a “just transition”

By Noel Healya and John Barry - Salem State University and Queen's University, Belfast, June, 2017

The burgeoning energy justice scholarship highlights the importance of justice and equity concerns in the context of global decarbonization and the transition to a green economy. This paper seeks to extend current conceptualizations of energy justice across entire energy lifecycles, from extraction to final use, to offer an analytically richer and more accurate picture of the (in)justice impacts of energy policy decisions. We identify two key areas that require greater attention and scrutiny in order to enact energy justice within a more democratized energy system. First, we call for greater recognition of the politics, power dynamics and political economy of socio-technical energy transitions. We use the example of the fossil fuel divestment movement as a way to shift energy justice policy attention upstream to focus on the under-researched injustices relating to supply-side climate policy analysis and decisions. Second, the idea of a “just transition” and the distributional impacts on “and the role of” labor in low-carbon transitions must be addressed more systematically. This focus produces a more directly political and politicizing framing of energy (in)justice and a just energy transition.

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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.