IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

The relationship between justice and acceptance of energy transition costs in the UK


  • Evensen, Darrick
  • Demski, Christina
  • Becker, Sarah
  • Pidgeon, Nick


Relatively little energy research has attended to justice considerations. The limited energy justice inquiry that exists focuses on justice in relation to impacts of energy production, consumption, and policies that either exacerbate or seek to mitigate distributive and procedural concerns. Programmes aimed at facilitating the so-called ‘energy transition’ have strong implications for energy justice. For example, efforts to reduce energy consumption and/or carbon emissions, policies to increase energy security, and programmes to increase energy access and affordability all address distributive concerns. Nevertheless, the costs associated with meeting such goals and running such programmes also have justice implications and should be viewed alongside the other aforementioned normative issues as an aspect of energy justice. Here, we examine public perceptions of who should fund programmes designed to ease the transition to a more sustainable and equitable energy system, finding most responsibility assigned to energy companies, and beliefs about procedural justice meaningfully shaping thoughts on who should pay. Our UK-based mixed methods inquiry reveals that whilst our respondents (survey) and participants (focus groups) accept some personal costs directed towards governmental programmes that could reduce energy injustices, acceptance is dependent on several factors, including perceived importance of distributive justice and whether the energy system exhibits procedural justice. The influence of normative factors on cost acceptance has implications for feasibility of polices to promote energy justice. We conducted a survey (N = 3,150), followed by five focus groups (N = 6–9 each) throughout Great Britain with survey respondents to explore further their answers and explain some of our quantitative findings. We conclude this paper with tangible policy recommendations for government, such as the amount (cost) and types of environmental and social levies that are viable, based on their public acceptance, and suggestions for other approaches to funding energy transitions, so as not to exceed the limits of public acceptance.

Suggested Citation

  • Evensen, Darrick & Demski, Christina & Becker, Sarah & Pidgeon, Nick, 2018. "The relationship between justice and acceptance of energy transition costs in the UK," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 222(C), pages 451-459.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:appene:v:222:y:2018:i:c:p:451-459
    DOI: 10.1016/j.apenergy.2018.03.165

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Shogren, Jason F. & Seung Y. Shin & Dermot J. Hayes & James B. Kliebenstein, 1994. "Resolving Differences in Willingness to Pay and Willingness to Accept," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(1), pages 255-270, March.
    2. Foxon, Timothy J., 2013. "Transition pathways for a UK low carbon electricity future," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 10-24.
    3. S E Eden, 1993. "Individual Environmental Responsibility and its Role in Public Environmentalism," Environment and Planning A, , vol. 25(12), pages 1743-1758, December.
    4. Webler, Thomas & Tuler, Seth P., 2010. "Getting the engineering right is not always enough: Researching the human dimensions of the new energy technologies," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(6), pages 2690-2691, June.
    5. Stefan Bouzarovski, 2014. "Energy poverty in the European Union: landscapes of vulnerability," Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Energy and Environment, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 3(3), pages 276-289, May.
    6. Sovacool, Benjamin K. & Dworkin, Michael H., 2015. "Energy justice: Conceptual insights and practical applications," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 142(C), pages 435-444.
    7. Giuseppe Nocella & Lionel Hubbard & Riccardo Scarpa, 2010. "Farm Animal Welfare, Consumer Willingness to Pay, and Trust: Results of a Cross-National Survey," Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 32(2), pages 275-297.
    8. Butler, C. & Demski, C. & Parkhill, K. & Pidgeon, N. & Spence, A., 2015. "Public values for energy futures: Framing, indeterminacy and policy making," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 87(C), pages 665-672.
    9. Wiser, Ryan H., 2007. "Using contingent valuation to explore willingness to pay for renewable energy: A comparison of collective and voluntary payment vehicles," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(3-4), pages 419-432, May.
    10. Ricci, Miriam & Bellaby, Paul & Flynn, Rob, 2010. "Engaging the public on paths to sustainable energy: Who has to trust whom?," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(6), pages 2633-2640, June.
    11. Mumford, John & Gray, David, 2010. "Consumer engagement in alternative energy--Can the regulators and suppliers be trusted?," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(6), pages 2664-2671, June.
    12. Wustenhagen, Rolf & Wolsink, Maarten & Burer, Mary Jean, 2007. "Social acceptance of renewable energy innovation: An introduction to the concept," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(5), pages 2683-2691, May.
    13. Fry, Matthew & Briggle, Adam & Kincaid, Jordan, 2015. "Fracking and environmental (in)justice in a Texas city," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 117(C), pages 97-107.
    14. Verbong, Geert & Geels, Frank, 2007. "The ongoing energy transition: Lessons from a socio-technical, multi-level analysis of the Dutch electricity system (1960-2004)," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(2), pages 1025-1037, February.
    15. Heffron, Raphael J. & McCauley, Darren & Sovacool, Benjamin K., 2015. "Resolving society's energy trilemma through the Energy Justice Metric," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 87(C), pages 168-176.
    16. Darrick Trent Evensen, 2015. "Policy Decisions on Shale Gas Development ('Fracking'): The Insufficiency of Science and Necessity of Moral Thought," Environmental Values, White Horse Press, vol. 24(4), pages 511-534, August.
    17. Mitchell, Catherine & Woodman, Bridget, 2010. "Towards trust in regulation--moving to a public value regulation," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(6), pages 2644-2651, June.
    18. Demski, Christina & Evensen, Darrick & Pidgeon, Nick & Spence, Alexa, 2017. "Public prioritisation of energy affordability in the UK," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 110(C), pages 404-409.
    19. Boccaletti, Stefano & Nardella, Michele, 2000. "Consumer Willingness To Pay For Pesticide-Free Fresh Fruit And Vegetables In Italy," International Food and Agribusiness Management Review, International Food and Agribusiness Management Association, vol. 3(3), pages 1-14.
    20. Walker, Gordon & Devine-Wright, Patrick & Hunter, Sue & High, Helen & Evans, Bob, 2010. "Trust and community: Exploring the meanings, contexts and dynamics of community renewable energy," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(6), pages 2655-2663, June.
    21. Don L. Coursey & John L. Hovis & William D. Schulze, 1987. "The Disparity Between Willingness to Accept and Willingness to Pay Measures of Value," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 102(3), pages 679-690.
    22. Hanemann, W Michael, 1991. "Willingness to Pay and Willingness to Accept: How Much Can They Differ?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(3), pages 635-647, June.
    23. Karen Bickerstaff & Peter Simmons & Nick Pidgeon, 2008. "Constructing Responsibilities for Risk: Negotiating Citizen — State Relationships," Environment and Planning A, , vol. 40(6), pages 1312-1330, June.
    24. Heffron, Raphael J. & McCauley, Darren, 2014. "Achieving sustainable supply chains through energy justice," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 123(C), pages 435-437.
    25. Sovacool, Benjamin K. & Burke, Matthew & Baker, Lucy & Kotikalapudi, Chaitanya Kumar & Wlokas, Holle, 2017. "New frontiers and conceptual frameworks for energy justice," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 105(C), pages 677-691.
    26. Rayner, Steve, 2010. "Trust and the transformation of energy systems," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(6), pages 2617-2623, June.
    27. Jenkins, Kirsten & Sovacool, Benjamin K. & McCauley, Darren, 2018. "Humanizing sociotechnical transitions through energy justice: An ethical framework for global transformative change," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 117(C), pages 66-74.
    28. Graham Dixon & Katherine McComas & John Besley & Joseph Steinhardt, 2016. "Transparency in the food aisle: the influence of procedural justice on views about labeling GM foods," Journal of Risk Research, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 19(9), pages 1158-1171, October.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Ling, Zaili & Huang, Tao & Li, Jixiang & Zhou, Sheng & Lian, Lulu & Wang, Jinxiang & Zhao, Yuan & Mao, Xiaoxuan & Gao, Hong & Ma, Jianmin, 2019. "Sulfur dioxide pollution and energy justice in Northwestern China embodied in West-East Energy Transmission of China," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 238(C), pages 547-560.
    2. Murrant, Daniel & Radcliffe, Jonathan, 2018. "Assessing energy storage technology options using a multi-criteria decision analysis-based framework," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 231(C), pages 788-802.
    3. Lehotský, Lukáš & Černoch, Filip & Osička, Jan & Ocelík, Petr, 2019. "When climate change is missing: Media discourse on coal mining in the Czech Republic," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 129(C), pages 774-786.
    4. Thomas, Gareth & Demski, Christina & Pidgeon, Nick, 2019. "Deliberating the social acceptability of energy storage in the UK," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 133(C).
    5. Benjamin K. Sovacool & Mari Martiskainen & Andrew Hook & Lucy Baker, 2019. "Decarbonization and its discontents: a critical energy justice perspective on four low-carbon transitions," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 155(4), pages 581-619, August.


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:appene:v:222:y:2018:i:c:p:451-459. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Haili He). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.