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Temporalities of energy justice: Changing justice conceptions in Dutch energy policy between 1974 and 2022

In this article, the authors argue that, although the use of the concept of energy justice is new, normative interpretations of what is just have been part and parcel of energy policy as dynamic conceptions.

Annemiek de Looze, Sander ten Caat, Antonella Maiello, Shivant Jhagroe and Eefje Cuppen
20 May 2024
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The authors aimed to write a history of the present: how contemporary concerns for energy justice emerged and evolved in the energy policy domain in the Netherlands over time. To illustrate this dynamic nature of justice conceptions, the authors analysed 13 key policy documents outlining the course of energy policy in the Netherlands from 1974 to 2022. The analysis identified four periods in which different justice conceptions were dominant: managing availability crises for economic growth (1974–1995), liberalisation for the economic benefit of all (1995–2005), green growth with room for participation (2005–2016), and inclusive climate policy (2016–2022).

The authors found that justice conceptions broadened over time, changing the relative importance of certain aspects of justice: from primarily being regarded as a distributive concern to including and emphasising procedural and recognition justice. The analysis shows that conceptions of justice are spatially and temporally sensitive, continuously being re-interpreted and re-enacted. The authors conclude that the results show that initial, rather implicit notions of justice consisted of a small set of conceptions, mostly distributive in nature. However, over time and impacted by wider socio-political discourses and events, justice developed into an explicit policy topic encompassing a wide variety of conceptions, including procedural and recognition elements.

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