The role of sustainable development law in energy transition
8 October 2020
Volg het doctoraat digitaal - - - - - (route: UAntwerpen, Stadscampus
Organization / co-organization:
Faculty of Law
Prof. dr. Wouter Vandenhole
PhD defence Vincent Bellinkx - Faculty of Law
The world is currently going through an era-defining energy transition. The two main challenges are (1) dealing with climate change and (2) providing adequate and secure energy access to all. Sustainable development law (SDL) is the legal crystallization of the broad change agenda of sustainable development that tries to address these two challenges. This leads to the overarching research: which role does SDL play in bringing about sustainability transition?
In four separate chapters this dissertation explores the relation between SDL as a normative legal framework and its influence on transitions. How does sustainable development law influence the law-making and legal decision-making processes in energy governance regimes and how does the operationalization of SDL contributes to building an alternative energy system? Chapter two identifies five energy governance challenges and outlines ways in which SDL principles and human rights principles can provide normative guidance to address these energy governance challenges. Chapters three, four and five discuss the operationalization of SDL in EU climate and energy policy, investment decision-making in the International Finance Corporation, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the Green Climate Fund and the role of public participation in the South African energy transition.
This has led to three insights on how law can offer a potential transformative role to accelerate a sustainability transition: Firstly, SDL brings in normativity in decision-making processes towards sustainability. Secondly, SDL provides a formal avenue for introducing multi-perspectivism in transition decision-making. Thirdly, more intricate understanding of law as part of a complex adaptive system improves lawyers’ abilities to understand where law responds to and how to mobilize law.
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