Justice and Public Participation in Renewable Energy Projects. A Comparative Case Study of Renewable Energy Auction Systems in Brazil and South Africa
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This study aims to explore how and to what extent planning and decision-making processes of renewable energy projects (RE) in Brazil and South Africa are inclusive on behalf of the local affected communities. In particular, the study focuses on wind projects procured through the renewable energy auction (REA) systems in the countries. Based on a content analysis of primary and secondary documents, these systems are compared to discuss how they affect the provision for public participation. The analysis of each case is based on a division of the planning and decision-making process within three phases; 1) political-administrative 2) procurement and 3) implementation. This is followed by a comparative discussion of the extent and type of this participation and influence, reflecting both how it is promoted and what are the main obstacles. The analytical framework consists of theories on public participation, procedural and distributive justice and principles of environmental and climate justice. The thesis argues that the opportunity to participate in planning and decision-making of the RE projects is influenced by the way that the REA systems are organised. Both the organisation and the provision of public participation opportunities are further affected by the institutional and political environment in the countries. A result of this, it will be argued, is that planning and decision-making processes provides varying degrees of participation and opportunity to exercise influence. The main causes for this, is that project development is outsourced to the private sector, while the environmental licensing (EL) and environmental impact assessment (EIA) that largely provide for public participation in these processes, is increasingly subject to streamlining. The outsourcing through the REA systems causes different development objectives to be incorporated and promoted, but lack of guidance on community interaction results in variable efforts to engage the locals.