Global gas flaring and energy justice: an empirical ethics analysis of stakeholder perspectives

Godwin Aigbe, Matthew Cotton, Lindsay Stringer

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Global gas flaring harms human and non-human health and well-being while contributing to climate change. Flaring activity in the global oil and gas sector is a significant matter of energy justice – concerning the distribution of risks, benefits and harms, recognition of rights, and decision-making influence within gas-flaring-affected communities. This mixed method empirical ethical analysis of gas flaring and energy justice combines Q-methodology and stakeholder interviews with representatives of 14 gas-flaring-affected countries (n=35) to evaluate the context-sensitivity of distributive, procedural, recognition, and cosmopolitan justice principles to gas-flaring governance. Four dominant normative perspectives emerge around this topic. These perspectives concern: a) government-led zero flaring policy; b) multi-scalar economic governance; c) business responsibility and social license; and d) localism and community empowerment. We find that: first, there is strong stakeholder support for zero-flaring globally. Second, coordinated multi-scalar governance from international-national-local regulatory authorities is desired to protect marginalised communities. Third, egalitarian rights-based approaches are prioritised over utilitarian approaches in planning for oil and gas extraction. Fourth, business responsibility necessitates transparent communication of flaring activities and impacts and the Polluter Pays Principle of environmental redress to affected communities. Finally, stakeholder disagreement centres upon the practical mechanisms to achieve just outcomes - including compensation, the role of local authorities, regulatory agencies, Environmental Impact Assessment, and efforts to tackle rent-seeking and corruption. We conclude that further stakeholder engagement is needed on the implementation processes for gas flaring elimination, rather than the goal itself, through carefully facilitated dialogue and negotiation.
Original languageEnglish
Article number103064
JournalEnergy Research and Social Science
Issue numberMay
Publication statusPublished - 30 Mar 2023


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