Compensation for Energy Infrastructures: Can a Capability Approach be More Equitable?

Journal of Human Development and Capabilities 22 (2):197-217 (2021)
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In this article, we deal with the evaluation of the losses suffered by persons living in urban areas as a result of energy services. In the first part, we analyse how by adopting different informational foci we obtain contrasting interpersonal evaluations regarding the same loss. In the second part, we distinguish between a diachronic and a hypothetical/moralised threshold for harm in order to assess whether individuals are benefiting from or being harmed by a given energy service. Our argument is that the most accurate evaluation of an individual damage caused by an energy service can be obtained by using capabilities as informational focus, instead of realised wellbeing or means to wellbeing, and by interpreting the loss in relation to a hypothetical/moralised threshold that corresponds to a list of central capabilities. In the last part, we address monetary and non-monetary compensations for a loss that is evaluated in terms of capabilities. Accordingly, we expound how compensation policies can either restore the capabilities lost due to energy services or monetarily compensate the individual for the fact that a given capability (or set of capabilities) has been irremediably lost.

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Fausto Corvino
University of Gothenburg


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