Urgency in energy justice: Contestation and time in prospective shale extraction in the United States and United Kingdom

Tristan Partridge, Merryn Thomas, Nick Pidgeon, Barbara Herr Harthorn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


© 2018 Elsevier Ltd Changes to the material and social systems that underpin energy infrastructures are inextricably linked to energy justice concerns, and the timeframes of those changes significantly affect their outcomes. Temporal aspects of energy initiatives and their impacts are thus an important site for examining emergent public views on new energy proposals, inequality, and energy justice. We propose urgency is a particularly rich concept through which to study (i) the justice and socioenvironmental implications of energy systems and technological change and (ii) how people make sense of contested energy timeframes. Here, we present findings from a series of public deliberation workshops held in the United States and United Kingdom to discuss projected impacts of shale oil and gas extraction by hydraulic fracturing. We encountered critical similarities across sites, as in widespread public resistance to issue framings that foreground urgency-based claims in support of their objectives. Participants assessed energy initiatives with particular reference to temporality and urgency, and we argue these views raise justice concerns regarding distribution, the creation of environmental inequalities, public participation, and recognition. We also suggest a focus on urgency provides fresh perspectives on justice issues surrounding the speed and direction of technological development in general and of energy transitions in particular.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)138-146
JournalEnergy Research and Social Science
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2018


  • Energy justice
  • Energy transitions
  • Fracking
  • Shale development
  • Temporality
  • Urgency


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