Addressing energy injustice in the Global South

  • July 30, 2020
Addressing energy injustice in the Global South

Ramit Debnath is lead author on a paper on a new framework which uses artificial intelligence to highlight energy injustices in the Global South.

Our methodology aims to empower the use of public deliberations, especially with underprivileged groups, in energy and climate policymaking process.

Ramit Debnath

A new framework which uses artificial intelligence to analyse textual data on energy use and behaviour could help policymakers develop a deeper understanding of energy injustices in the Global South.

The study, Grounded reality meets machine learning: A deep-narrative analysis framework for energy policy research, was led by Gates Cambridge Scholar Ramit Debnath [2018] and is published in the journal Energy Research and Social Sciences.

It is based on the idea that, while text-based data sources like narratives and stores have become an increasingly popular means of gaining critical insights which are useful in energy and climate debates, their application in policymaking remains superficial.

Ramit led the study, which is a collaboration between researchers at the University of Cambridge and the University of Oxford.

The deep-narrative analysis framework they developed uses artificial intelligence and grounded theory to analyse narratives of injustices associated with energy access and affordability in the high-rise slum rehabilitation housing of Mumbai, India.

These slum rehabilitation housing programmes are critical for poverty alleviation strategies in the Global South. Occupants’ narratives show that substandard design of houses affects the energy use behaviour of occupants, causing a poverty penalty. It also found that this leads to increased stress due to higher energy bills, pushing people into further energy poverty. In addition, the narratives revealed that a lack of community spaces and mobility options in the high-rise buildings in Mumbai also contribute to the distributive injustice of living there.

Ramit Debnath, who is doing a PhD in Energy Policy in the Behaviour and Building Performance Group and is affiliated with the Energy Policy Research Group at the Judge Business School, said: “Our methodology provides a statistical basis for the narrative analysis that makes is reverifiable and reproducible in evidence-based policymaking. It aims to empower the use of public deliberations, especially with underprivileged groups, in energy and climate policymaking process.”

The study is co-authored by Dr Sarah Darby, Associate Professor in Environmental Change Institute at the University of Oxford, Dr Ronita Bardhan, University Lecturer in Sustainability of the Built Environment at the University of Cambridge, Gates Cambridge alumnus, Dr Kamiar Mohaddes, University Senior Lecturer in Economics & Policy at the Cambridge Judge Business School and Dr Minna Sunikka-Blank, University Senior Lecturer in Architecture at the University of Cambridge.

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