By Subin Devar, Director of the Law Center's Community Renewable Energy Program
A just transition presents the opportunity to address the social inequity underpinning the existing extractive economy and in its place build a fair and sustainable society. Leaders in the environmental and climate justice spaces have developed frameworks and advocacy tools to move the conversation forward. Yet, as it is currently playing out, the transition is neither happening rapidly enough, nor are state renewable energy laws and regulations adequately centering equity. A key gap that local communities, regional networks, and national advocates have identified is the need for law and policy resources in the drafting of equitable renewable energy legislation and regulations in support of the broader movement.
Over the past year, the Sustainable Economies Law Center, through the work of our energy program director, Subin DeVar, has been helping to launch a new law and policy resource center to meet this need: the Initiative for Energy Justice. IEJ is sponsored by Northeastern University, and led by a three-person team of attorneys with experience in equity-centered energy law and policy: Shalanda Baker (Northeastern University, Professor of Law, Public Policy and Urban Affairs), Subin DeVar (Sustainable Economies Law Center, Community Renewable Energy Director), and Shiva Prakash (Environmental Attorney & Former Equal Justice Works Community Energy Project Fellow).
The Initiative for Energy Justice hosted an Energy Justice Strategy and Policy Workshop on October 3-4, 2019, in Boston, to bring together leaders in the fight for equitable clean energy policies, including environmental justice organizations, energy equity advocates, and energy democracy groups from across the United States. Thirty-five attendees gathered together and deepened connections; shared learnings and expertise; and discussed opportunities, challenges, and needs to move their work forward. The IEJ team also presented a draft policy tool (an “Energy Justice Scorecard”) designed to help evaluate and draft policy based on energy justice principles. The participants discussed strategies for developing effective energy policy tools for frontline communities and energy equity coalitions, including areas such as utility restructuring, access to energy, and net energy metering. The IEJ team is taking the lessons gathered at the Workshop, along with ongoing research and conversations with partners from around the country to develop project focus areas for 2020 and beyond.
Check out photos from the Workshop above. For more information, you can email Subin DeVar at [email protected].