The energy crises revealed by COVID: Intersections of Indigeneity, inequity, and health
Energy Research and Social Science
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The global COVID-19 pandemic is a health crisis, an economic crisis, and a justice crisis. It also brings to light multiple ongoing, underlying social crises. The COVID-19 crisis is actively revealing crises of energy sovereignty in at least four ways. First, there are many whose access to basic health services is compromised because of the lack of energy services necessary to provide these services. Second, some people are more vulnerable to COVID-19 because of exposure to environmental pollution associated with energy production. Third, energy services are vital to human wellbeing, yet access to energy services is largely organized as a consumer good. The loss of stable income precipitated by COVID-19 may therefore mean that many lose reliable access to essential energy services. Fourth, the COVID-19 crisis has created a window of opportunity for corporate interests to engage in aggressive pursuit of energy agendas that perpetuate carbon intensive and corporate controlled energy systems, which illuminates the ongoing procedural injustices of energy decision making. These four related crises demonstrate why energy sovereignty is essential for a just energy future. Energy sovereignty is defined as the right for communities, rather than corporate interests, to control access to and decision making regarding the sources, scales, and forms of ownership characterizing access to energy services. Energy sovereignty is a critical component in the design of a post-COVID-19 energy system that is capable of being resilient to future shocks without exacerbating injustices that are killing the most vulnerable among us.