The IUCN Academy of Environmental Law series
Edited by Jordi Jaria i Manzano, Nathalie Chalifour and Louis J. Kotzé
Chapter 5: Using social science perspectives on risk to implement an environmental justice analysis
In the context of global climate change and rising world energy demand putting increasing pressures on finite natural resources, new efficient and sustainable low carbon technologies, such as wind power, solar, geothermal power, biomass, hydropower and biogas, are being developed to sustain human activities, combat climate change and protect environmental assets. However, energy technology innovations carry their own risks of social failures, thus jeopardizing the building of a fair and equitable society. Yet, the focus of the energy debate remains mostly around energy security, climate change and the use of market-based approaches. The social and environmental injustice risks arising from the emergence of new low carbon energy technologies play a minor part in the energy debate. This chapter redirects the discussion and intends to explore how the concept of environmental justice combined with social science perspectives on risk can create new theoretical frameworks and methods that can help integrate social justice considerations into energy legal frameworks. Framing the energy debate differently, i.e., through the lens of environmental justice and social sciences perspectives on risk, is likely to shape different types of regulatory responses that will be needed to address emerging social issues in the context of low carbon technologies.
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