Can authoritarian regimes achieve just energy transition? Evidence from China's solar photovoltaic poverty alleviation initiative

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Abstract

Energy justice is an important concept drawing attention to fairness and equity in the transition to clean energy. Recently, a theme that highlights procedural and distributive injustices of energy transition in authoritarian regimes, particularly China, has emerged in the literature. This study challenges this perspective with an examination of China's photovoltaic poverty alleviation initiative (PVPA)—a policy that aims to ease poverty through a clean energy transition in rural areas. The evidence collected from interviews and surveys shows that a just energy transition has been achieved by the PVPA in two ways. First, from a just procedure perspective, there are institutionalized mechanisms ensuring procedural justice, including public consultation conducted at the village level and the disclosure of information regarding the distribution of benefits. Second, from a just outcome perspective, the PVPA has made a positive material impact on poor rural households, and more broadly, village collectives. These findings show that just energy transitions in authoritarian regimes are possible, but they assume a path in which top-down politics, rather than bottom-up pressure, is the key driving force.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102315
Number of pages7
JournalEnergy Research and Social Science
Volume82
Early online date29 Sep 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering
  • Fuel Technology
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

User-Defined Keywords

  • Authoritarianism
  • China
  • Energy justice
  • Just energy transition
  • Mixed-method approach

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