Decarbonisation is essential to limiting the electricity sector's contributions to CO2 emissions. Simultaneously, there is recognition of the need to increase electricity access in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa, such as in Malawi, with renewable energies suggested as capable of meeting these needs. However, the drive for low carbon electrification, especially in settings where biomass use for cooking is widespread, may act as a driver of new and intersecting injustices. The energy justice framework is well posited to recognise injustices which emerge across energy supply chains, though existing analysis has typically focused on single energy systems. In order to capture injustices emerging in settings of dual biomass use and hydroelectricity generation, it is necessary to consider how energy systems impact on both human health (e.g. air pollution from biomass burning) and the functionality of ecosystems (through deforestation and resulting siltation of rivers). Thus, we argue for an Ecohealth approach to energy justice research, drawing on evidence from Malawi's transition towards electrification.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by the United Kingdom Research and Innovation Global Challenges Research Fund under the project title ‘Improving energy infrastructural decision making in Malawi’.
The authors would like to thank Anna Makata, Zola Manyungwa, James Mandela Mbeya, Colleen Mbughi and Rosina Phiri at the University of Malawi for insightful conversations exploring energy use and access in Malawi, and for your help in the translation of consent and ethical approval forms. We would also like to thank Desislava Kirilova, Karin Kajzarova and Yizhou Meng from the University of St Andrews for their help conducting interviews in Malawi.
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