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Energy Justice: Conceptual Insights And Practical Aspects

The term "energy justice" refers to the pursuit of social and economic fairness in the energy sector and the alleviation of the economic, social, and health burdens experienced by those disproportionately affected by it. Working-class people, indigenous people, and those who have been historically marginalised due to racial and socioeconomic inequities are all major issues in the fight for energy justice.

Energy justice aims to ensure that all communities have access to inexpensive, clean, and democratically-managed energy. Market expansion in energy has been largely seen as a vital component of economic progress during the twentieth century. Researchers and politicians have often ignored Basalla's call for a social debate on the energy industry's features.

However, the rising difficulties linked to energy operations, such as global warming, energy poverty, and the widespread use of dangerous energy technology, have led to a resurgence of social concerns that go beyond traditional technical or economic analyses. Efforts to apply environmental justice principles to a wider range of issues have grown in complexity conceptually during the past 40 years. Because of this progression, "energy justice" might be seen as an example.

Research on energy justice has grown significantly in the academic community since its inception, raising crucial concerns about the role of energy organisations in addressing rising socioeconomic inequalities and accompanying challenges with energy as costs rise ever higher. Energy justice research has been more popular.

However, analytical and conceptual frameworks utilised in the area have primarily focused on social circumstances and processes, with little consideration of foundational economic and political systems. Environmental justice research inspired the framework based on three justice principles—distributional, procedural, and recognised justice-to analyse discriminatory energy policies and programmes.

The three tenets that apply to energy are summarised in the following paragraphs. Distributional justice ensures that energy production's costs and benefits are fairly distributed across society. Fuel poverty is one example of a distributional injustice that occurs when income, energy costs, and living conditions are all unequally distributed. Procedural justice demands that all stakeholders in the energy decision-making process participate equally and democratically.

Procedural justice requires full disclosure of relevant facts and appropriate legislative instruments to facilitate public involvement. Understanding the various forms of vulnerability and specialised requirements linked with energy systems among different socioeconomic groups is emphasised by recognising justice (especially in marginalised communities).

A conceptual foundation is provided by the three-tenet framework, but it does not directly address the complex political and economic processes that often cause energy injustice when identifying and assessing issues related to communal energy (including fuel poverty). Rather than focusing on the root causes of the problem, the framework focuses on 'tailpipe' issues and solutions, such as increasing accessibility and affordability.

Consequently, the border between energy poverty and energy justice is frequently set at this point. For cooking and heating, well over 1.3 billion people worldwide still use wood, animal waste, or kerosene; even this large number is insufficient for the needs of 2.7 billion other people worldwide. There are around 220 million individuals in cities throughout the world who do not have access to power.

When it comes to both power production and consumption, India ranks fourth overall. However, 304 million Indians still do not have reliable electricity in India, with 18.24 million living in metropolitan areas of the country. It is also a component of the climate change dilemma that the country, states, and the world community are facing."

That which is most susceptible to climate change's effects (such as extreme heat and floods) tends to be populated by the poorest people on earth. For SPARC, "energy justice" implies ensuring that the underprivileged have equal access to sustainable while also keeping such services cheap. Electricity prices, energy subsidies, and government programmes must all be rethought to benefit the poor if this goal is to be realised.

According to the International Energy Agency, India now consumes 4.8 million barrels of oil daily, which is expected to rise to 8.7 million per day by 2040. Eighty-five per cent of the country's oil needs are met by imports.

India's natural partner is Russia, the world's third-largest oil producer and exporter. Investments in each other's energy sectors would insulate India against energy price surges while allowing Russia to maintain long-term access to purchasers for its energy products. The recent COP26 summit in Glasgow has reiterated the notion that poor nations would continue to rely on fossil fuels for a certain time. This is made more difficult by a shrinking funding pool for fossil fuel programmes.

The United States and Canada are two of twenty nations pledging their support for sustainable energy initiatives instead of fossil fuel ones. In the short term, this might lead to market turbulence and distortions. The Modi government's focus on ensuring energy justice and seeking a green path to growth has been the driving force behind energy policies. Because of its extensive value chain, the oil and gas (O&G) business provides economic stimulus at every stage of production, consumption, distribution, and trade.

Over the last five years, the O&G industry has contributed more than 3% of the economy's gross value addition in real terms. With a CAGR of 5.1 per cent in FY20, the Indian Oil and natural gas industry has helped the real GDP increase by 6.8 per cent during the previous six years to a total of 262 million metric tonnes.

The finance minister said that the oil and gas sector had been an important part of the nation's defence throughout this era of lockdown. FM has made several important efforts to further its energy justice agenda and de-carbonise the economy: Energy poverty has been eliminated thanks to the PMUY programme and socio-economic transformation. The objective of supplying 8 million free LPG Assistance and protection under PMUY has been increased to serve an extra one million families in the FY22 budget.

  1. Vincent Möller, Monali Waghmare, Maria Lobo, Sheela Patel, Society for the Promotion of Area Resource Centres (SPARC), Energy justice for the urban poor.
  2. Shri Dharmendra Pradhan says balancing accessibility and affordability, India is creating a global model of energy justice, Press information bureau. Gov,2021
  3. Budgeting for energy justice: Budget FY22 has extended the target to cover one crore additional households, Financial Express, 2021.
  4. Kirsten Jenkins, Darren McCauley, Raphael Heffron, Hannes Stephan, Robert Rehner, Energy Research & Social Science, Elsevier, January 2016.
  5. Anders Melin, Rosie Day & Kirsten E. H. Jenkins (2021) Energy Justice and the Capability Approach—Introduction to the Special Issue, Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, 22:2, 185-196.

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