Adviser's Note - The Energy Justice Complexities of Covid-19

Adviser's Note - The Energy Justice Complexities of Covid-19

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Benjamin K. Sovacool

In political circles, it has become cliché that a leader must “never let a good crisis go to waste.” In economic circles, it is also a truism that when disasters strike, from epidemics to earthquakes, it is usually those with the least resilience, i.e. the poor, that suffer the most, rather than the wealthy who have the resources to better implement a variety of coping strategies. Articles in this month’s issue starkly remind us that these political economy elements of (a) manipulating the Covid-19 pandemic for personal gain, and (b) a gross inequality in how its impacts are being felt, hold true for energy justice and policy. Due to its reliance on Chinese imports for renewable energy such as solar PV, India is seeing its renewable energy projects delayed. But stakeholders are using the crisis as a reason to double down on employment and investment in coal and oil. Global energy trends, and patterns of poverty, currently erode notions of human security and the vitality of people’s ability to achieve their own capabilities. They lastly tend to promote masculine and hegemonic norms and roles and perpetuate gender inequality. The Covid-19 pandemic reminds us we need energy policy and planning that is more justice aware, focused on people, and appreciative of diversity.

Dr. Sovacool is Professor of Energy Policy at the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) at the University of Sussex Business School in the United Kingdom