Financing energy transitions and environmental restoration: Who pays the price?

Photo by Singkham from Pexels

Event details


Date & time

Tuesday 24 November 2020


Online Event
ANU Canberra


Dr Abidah Setyowati, Dr Deborah Cleland


School of Regulation and Global Governance (RegNet)

This webinar will discuss social justice implications of financing energy transitions in Indonesia and financing environmental restoration through criminal justice system in Australia.

Indonesia: Many countries around the globe demonstrate a growing commitment to achieve universal electrification in alignment with Sustainable Development Goal 7. Indonesia is among the countries that have made a concerted effort to alleviate energy poverty, mindful that around 25 million of its citizens live without access to electricity.

This webinar examines Indonesia’s efforts to realize its vision of energy justice by mobilizing private finance for renewable rural electrification. In particular, it examines to what extent and in what ways Indonesia has addressed energy justice issues and their social implications. It argues that Indonesia’s energy justice vision has manifested in policies and initiatives that focus narrowly on distributive energy justice in terms of energy accessibility and affordability. Such a myopic interpretation of energy justice has resulted in policies that prioritize large scale and on-grid solutions and substantially reduce financial options for small and distributed renewable energy initiatives, which in turn perpetuate spatial inequalities of energy access. For a broader energy justice vision to be realized, it will be necessary to design and implement energy policies that holistically address all elements of energy justice and facilitate the use of diverse forms of finance to address energy poverty.

Australia: The UN has recently identified the lack of investment in ecosystem restoration as a major impediment to meeting the Sustainable Development Goals. In Australia, criminal acts of environmental harm by corporations have traditionally been punishable by fines which go into consolidated revenue.

In Victoria, an option to divert these funds to community projects has proven to be a way to at least partially restore damaged environments. In so doing, the projects can also go some way to healing relationships between the regulator and community groups that have been affected by the failure of the state to protect humans and urban ecosystems from damage and pollution. This is far from a straightforward process, however. Delays in court cases, non-transparencies in selecting projects, competing ideas about ‘communities’ and no guaranteed flow-on effects for either environment or ongoing partnerships means that outcomes can be ephemeral and hard-won. In addition, relying on the relatively small sphere of ‘illegal’ environmental harms over the much larger sphere of ‘legal’ environmental harms still means the natural world is in decline. Broadening the reach of restorative activities out of just the enforcement and conservation space will be critical going forward.

About the speakers

Abidah B Setyowati is a research fellow at the School of Regulation and Global Governance (RegNet) with an academic background in human-environment geography. Her research focuses broadly on natural resources and climate governance, critical climate change studies, energy governance/access, climate finance, forest tenure reform and gender perspectives in these issues. Her working areas in Indonesia and other countries in Southeast Asia. She has extensive working experience as a policy advisor and international consultant for various multilateral and international agencies (i.e. USAID, UNDP, UNEP, FAO, UNREDD, DFID, among others) and NGOs.

Deborah Cleland is an interdisciplinary social scientist, with a background in human ecology and natural resource management. She is currently working on how to effectively integrate restorative justice into environmental regulation, together with Miranda Forsyth, John Braithwaite, Valerie Braithwaite, Felicity Tepper and the Victorian Environmental Protection Authority. The project draws on Deb’s previous work on fisheries conservation, environmental impact assessment and workplace health and safety. Deb is particularly interested in how regulators can work with communities to improve safety, quality of life and citizen engagement in our democracy.

Image: Photo by Singkham from Pexels

Updated:  10 August 2017/Responsible Officer:  Director, RegNet/Page Contact:  Director, RegNet