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Why Affordable Clean Energy Is Not Enough. A Capability Perspective on the Sustainable Development Goals

Hillerbrand, Rafaela 1,2
1 Fakultät für Geistes- und Sozialwissenschaften – Institut für Philosophie (PHIL), Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT)
2 Institut für Technikfolgenabschätzung und Systemanalyse (ITAS), Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT)


This paper reflects on criticisms raised in the literature on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These have been criticized as creating a dichotomy between the environment and human beings that fails to address the multiple interconnections between the two. This paper focuses on SDG7—“affordable and clean energy”—and suggests that there is in fact a tripartite distinction between the environment, human beings and technology underlying the SDGs. This distinction, we argue, does not adequately represent the multiple interconnections among the various SDGs and hampers their implementation. We contend that the formulation of SDG7 produces a circular definition of sustainability, a difficulty that is currently resolved at the level of the targets and indicators in a way that regards energy technologies primarily as artifacts. By contrast, the literature on ethical aspects of energy systems largely agrees that energy is a paradigmatic example of a sociotechnical system. We contend that, by not considering this sociotechnical nature, the SDGs run the risk of implicitly defending a certain variant of technological optimism and determinism. ... mehr

Verlagsausgabe §
DOI: 10.5445/IR/1000086110
Veröffentlicht am 01.10.2018
DOI: 10.3390/su10072485
Zitationen: 47
Web of Science
Zitationen: 36
Zitationen: 51
Cover der Publikation
Zugehörige Institution(en) am KIT Institut für Technikfolgenabschätzung und Systemanalyse (ITAS)
Publikationstyp Zeitschriftenaufsatz
Publikationsjahr 2018
Sprache Englisch
Identifikator ISSN: 2071-1050
KITopen-ID: 1000086110
HGF-Programm 36.02.02 (POF III, LK 01) Energy-Resources, Technologies, Systems
Erschienen in Sustainability
Verlag MDPI
Band 10
Heft 7
Seiten Article: 2485
Bemerkung zur Veröffentlichung Gefördert durch den KIT-Publikationsfonds
Vorab online veröffentlicht am 16.07.2018
Schlagwörter energy; justice; capabilities; capability approach; sustainability; SDG; environment; ethics of technology; sociotechnical system; engineering ethics
Nachgewiesen in Dimensions
Web of Science
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