Identifying a Human Right to Access Sustainable Energy Services in International Human Rights Law (SDG 7)? (LRN Law and Sustainability Conference)

Hesselman, M., 2017, (Unpublished).

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperAcademic

This paper assessed whether a right to sustainable energy services access can be found in international human rights law, possibly in support of achieving UN Sustainable Development Goal 7. According to SDG 7.1, States are expected to strive for the implementation of "universal access to modern, affordable and reliable energy services" by 2030, while further aspirations on renewables and energy efficiency are included in SDG 7.2 and 7.3.

The question of "sustainable" access to energy services raises in particular the question whether the "energy services" accessed by individuals and households in their home or in the community per definition need to be fuelled by some renewable energy source/technology, i.e. need to be 'environmentally-friendly'.

This paper finds that, although concerns for health and life are certainly linked to the usage of (modern) energy services (or a lack thereof) in international human rights law, a clear direct recognition of the link between environmental-friendly usages of energy services and human rights is missing. In short, although international human rights law shows some recognition that the human rights to life and health are particularly relevant for healthy energy services access - particularly in respect of clean cooking facilities or dirty diesel generators - there is no "right to claim access to sustainable energy services" discernible in the human rights framework as such, so far. On the other hand, there is equally ample evidence that international human rights law framework offers protection to those living near environmentally-harmful energy production/generation plants - such as coal-fired electricity plants - which cause harmful air pollution and environmental living conditions. These people can mobilize human rights to call for (improved) State action towards cleaner air (and as related to this, take action to claim cleaner energy production where they live).
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2017

ID: 48758782