How do concepts like 'fairness' and 'equity' fit in to the debate about cutting carbon emissions?
Exploring energy justice
Research suggests that peoples’ willingness to act to curb their own carbon emissions is significantly affected by their sense of how others will act and how fairly the burden of action is shared across the population.
Achieving a degree of ‘fairness’ or ‘justice’ in climate policy may therefore be one of the keys to unlocking public action on climate change. It is also a core component of sustainability.
This issue of fairness in climate policy has been explored on a global scale through such concepts as contraction and convergence. These address how best to distribute fairly the ‘rights to emit carbon dioxide’ across the world’s population, taking account of the current and historically much higher emissions by the populations of richer countries.
We’ve been exploring this issue – which we call ‘energy justice’ – at a national level to establish a clearer picture of how to achieve to achieve a socially equitable climate policy within the UK.
In November 2009, CSE organised a working seminar on 'Exploring Energy Justice' attended by key players from government, NGOs, the energy sector and academia. Click here to find out more.
What is required to underpin this debate is an understanding of how carbon emissions and the opportunities to cut them are distributed across the population and how the costs of policies impact on individual household bills,
Such a picture does not currently exist. We have therefore been working on developing appropriate datasets and modelling techniques across a number of research projects.
By combining a variety of official data sources we have established a capacity to test the social impacts of current and proposed climate policies and, perhaps more importantly, to analyse the opportunities to intervene to reduce or reverse negative impacts so that policies are effective, fair, and sustainable.
To read more about our work in this area, see our work on 'distributional impacts'.