Energy and Environmental Justice in China: Literature Review and Research Agenda

Xinxin Wang, Kevin Lo*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Energy and environmental justice (EEJ) is an interdisciplinary field of study that examines the social, economic, and political dimensions of energy and environmental transitions. Studying EEJ in China is crucial as the country accelerates its transition towards environmental sustainability and carbon neutrality, highlighting the need for the development of more equitable energy and environmental policies. This paper offers a comprehensive review of academic research on EEJ in the Chinese context. Our review indicates that Chinese EEJ scholarship has identified instances of injustice in China’s energy and ecological transitions and highlighted specific characteristics, including regional disparities, urban-rural inequality, and the disproportionate impact on migrant populations. However, the tendency to apply Western justice principles (e.g., distributive, recognition, and procedural justice) undermines the appreciation of the diverse and contextual interpretations of justice-related research in China. Furthermore, there is a lack of critical justice research that explores the root causes of injustice in China. The review suggests that future research can advance theoretical development by conducting cross-cultural studies, while also adopting a more critical approach that foregrounds the role of power in reproducing injustice. This review is useful for those interested in researching the social justice dimensions of energy and ecological transitions in China.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)91-106
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Asian Energy Studies
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2023

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Energy (miscellaneous)
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment

User-Defined Keywords

  • China
  • energy justice
  • environmental justice
  • inequality
  • literature review
  • research agenda


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