ORCID (Links to author’s additional scholarship at ORCID.org)
Energy transition policies will soon transform the backbone of our globalized economy. Problematically, leading policymakers advocate for a form of energy system shock therapy: they argue we should abandon fossil fuels to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions as soon as technically feasible. Because current energy systems have deep structural importance for our daily lives and determine everything from where we live to how we work, such shock therapy has potentially catastrophic economic, social, and cultural consequences around the world. I argue that we can achieve meaningful energy transition success without such catastrophic consequences if we pivot from a net zero policy focus to a diligent zero legal perspective; this perspective holistically promotes the progressive realization of human rights, as well as environmental and climate commitments. The literature has already identified the crucial importance of due diligence for policymakers and business executives in the context of climate and environmental law, human rights, and corporate governance. What the literature has missed so far is that energy transition diligence can only guide energy transition decision-making if we conduct such diligence holistically rather than piecemeal in siloed and competing climate, environmental, human rights, and corporate governance due diligence streams.
I argue that a holistic energy transition diligence is possible, and in fact compatible, with existing climate, environmental, and human rights regimes. I provide a map for conducting energy transition diligence. Diligent Zero is the first article to argue for such a holistic diligence approach to energy transition and gives lawyers a focal point for securing an equitable and sustainable energy transition process.
Frédéric G Sourgens,
SMU L. Rev.