Journal article / Local Environmentalism versus Energy Justice: The Case of the Athirappilly Hydropower Project

Jayapalan, C., and L. S. Ganesh. ‘Environmentalists and Their Conflicts with Energy Justice – Concept of “Power-Environ” in the Athirappilly HEPP in Kerala’. Energy Policy 129 (1 June 2019): 215–29. Published ahead of print, 16 February 2019.

Abstract (edited): This paper describes how a green energy surplus region changed over the years to a thermal energy mix region, driven by environmentalist forces’ strong opposition to Hydro-Electric Power Projects (HEPPs) in Kerala. The specific instance of the proposed Athirappilly HEPP is discussed against the background of the opposition of environmentalists and other sympathetic associations.

The strong opposition to HEPPs in specific local contexts has led to increased emissions in other places. The tenets of energy justice—distributional, procedural, recognition and cosmopolitan—have been challenged by the environmentalists’ movement against the Athirappilly HEPP.

The inherent conflicts between environment law and climate law on the one hand, and the principles of energy justice and law on the other, are pointed out. The concept of ‘Power-Environ’ is introduced and characterized, and its relation to energy justice and law is explored in the policy context.

The concept proposed here serves as a foundation for realizing parsimonious and effective representation of the opposition to HEPPs, and for ushering in energy justice and law. The use of this concept, as an integrated whole founded on the principles of energy justice and law, should facilitate balanced policy-making in the energy sector, especially in India, and hopefully, across the world too.

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