Human rights and access to modern energy services

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World-wide about 775 million people still lack basic electricity access; 2.4 billion persons cook on solid fuels, such as wood, coal or biomass, with major impacts on health and well-being; and tens of millions Europeans could not adequately heat their home even before the COVID-19 pandemic and energy price crisis.
This dissertation examines whether ensuring access to modern, affordable, reliable and sustainable energy services is a matter of international and regional human rights law protection. It concludes that ‘energy poverty’ negatively affects many different human rights, which each give rise to relevant legal entitlements and corresponding obligations. This includes the rights to life with dignity, physical and mental health, adequate housing, education, a healthy environment, or the freedom of expression and access to information (especially through digital means). Some human rights treaties even recognize an explicit ‘right to energy’ or ‘right to electricity’, but the content of these rights tends to be underdeveloped so far. Amongst specific obligations or relevant protective measures that States may have to take to protect human rights in the Global South or in the EU; in the context of health; children’s rights to electricity for digital inclusion, or during the COVID-19 pandemic, the dissertation discusses bans on disconnections, measures to ensure universal affordability of energy supplies and adequate thermal comfort and energy efficiency, as well access to clean and healthy energy supplies for all. The notion of ‘energy as a human right’ will increase in significance as the climate crisis and needs for (just) energy transition unfold.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • University of Groningen
  • Brus, Marcel, Supervisor
  • Toebes, Brigit, Supervisor
Award date17-Apr-2023
Place of Publication[Groningen]
Print ISBNs978-94-6483-029-3
Publication statusPublished - 2023


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