From Green to Red: New Energy Projects and Violent Conflict in Fragile Contexts

46 Pages Posted: 12 Mar 2024

See all articles by Anne Spencer Jamison

Anne Spencer Jamison

Copenhagen Business School

Brian Ganson

Stellenbosch Business School; Stellenbosch University School for Data Science & Computational Thinking; Peace Research Insititute Oslo (PRIO)

Witold J. Henisz

University of Pennsylvania - Management Department

Joseph Bettles

Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller Center for Zero Carbon Shipping

Date Written: February 14, 2024

Abstract

Despite the ethical stance of new energy proponents, solar installations in emerging economies can be drivers of violent socio-political and socio-economic conflict in fragile contexts. This poses risks both to people and to successful implementation of a green transition. We first survey the pathways by which “green” energy investments can turn “red” through their entanglement in the political economy of conflict. We then empirically analyze the conflict impact of these projects using a geospatial dataset of projects in fragile contexts from 1994-2020. Employing propensity score panel matching in a subnational research design, we show that commercial-scale solar projects in fragile contexts, on average, cause an increase in deaths from conflict in the year following the project start in their local project area. Conflict escalation is driven by sentiment towards elites, underlining the propensity of these projects to undermine social cohesion. Given the ethical deficiency of outcomes that further burden the already poor and vulnerable, these results call for greater accountability for conflict risk assessment and mitigation by green financiers, the companies they fund, green energy advocates, and policy makers together embedded in a perhaps too-narrow view of the ethical landscape of the green transition.

Keywords: Environmental justice, conflict, green transition

JEL Classification: F23, F230, F350, O190

Suggested Citation

Jamison, Anne and Ganson, Brian and Henisz, Witold Jerzy and Bettles, Joseph, From Green to Red: New Energy Projects and Violent Conflict in Fragile Contexts (February 14, 2024). The Wharton School Research Paper, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4726756 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4726756

Anne Jamison

Copenhagen Business School

Porcelænshaven 24A
Office 2.56_01
Frederiksberg, Capital region 2000
Denmark

Brian Ganson (Contact Author)

Stellenbosch Business School ( email )

Private Bag X1
Stellenbosch, Western Cape 7602
South Africa

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.stellenboschbusiness.ac.za

Stellenbosch University School for Data Science & Computational Thinking ( email )

Stellenbosch
South Africa

HOME PAGE: http://www.sun.ac.za/english/data-science-and-computational-thinking

Peace Research Insititute Oslo (PRIO) ( email )

Oslo
N-0260 Oslo
Norway

Witold Jerzy Henisz

University of Pennsylvania - Management Department ( email )

The Wharton School
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6370
United States
215-898-0788 (Phone)
215-898-0401 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www-management.wharton.upenn.edu/henisz/

Joseph Bettles

Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller Center for Zero Carbon Shipping ( email )

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