Clean & Just Energy Pathways Home

Justice in the Transition

Community solar photovoltaic systems allow community members to purchase a share of the renewable energy being generated in these solar farms, to receive credit on their electricity bills. This model is being rapidly adopted and it is inclusive, since it makes benefitting from renewable energy more affordable, and also feasible for people who rent or live in houses that are not suitable for solar PV systems. Photovoltaic energy is available wherever the sun shines, what makes it a very inclusive source of energy. This picture features the Tipmont REMC Community Solar Array in Indiana, U.S.A. Source: Robford15 / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0).

Energy justice is incredibly multidimensional and includes intergenerational justice (not harming future generations), environmental justice (the right to a clean environment), social equity and welfare (the right to affordable, accessible energy), and good governance (including transparency and accountability), to name a few (Sovacool and Dworkin 2015). The intersections between justice principles and energy systems have implications for policy, production, consumption, security and climate change (Jenkins et.at, 2016). These considerations are hardly an academic exercise but rather amount to life and death for many at-risk populations. On an international scale, equitable access to clean, affordable, and reliable energy is crucial for economic development. 13% of the world does not have access to electricity, and 40% of the world does not have access to clean fuels for cooking. Across countries, per capita electricity consumption varies more than 100-fold and per capita energy consumption varies more than 10-fold (Hannah Ritchie and Max Roser, 2020).

Another energy justice concern that is present domestically within the U.S. and worldwide is fuel poverty, which is the inability of households to afford adequate energy services, such as heating (Reames, 2016). Another crucial aspect of justice in the energy transition is helping workers from fossil fuel producing regions adapt to a new energy economy. As fossil fuel production and consumption decreases, primarily from policy mandates but also from resource depletion, this transition requires planning and support for workers from the sector, as they need to adapt to a changed labor market.