There is growing international attention to the goal of universal energy access. Despite this, large financial gaps remain a major obstacle for realizing global energy justice for all communities. Drawing on political theories of global distributive justice, this article develops and applies a framework for how multilateral development assistance for energy projects can be evaluated in relation to three guiding principles. First, the global difference principle asserts that resources should be distributed to maximize the condition of the least well-off humans. Second, the local benefits principle asserts that resources should be distributed in ways that enhance the public goods of local communities, particularly those that are historically marginalized. Third, the global equality of opportunity principle asserts that all social groups and states have the capabilities to equitably access institutional structures relevant to the distribution of resources. We apply this framework to an analysis of finance for all energy projects within the Green Climate Fund (GCF) from 2015 to 2018. In doing so, we offer a nuanced understanding of the successes and failures regarding the performance of the GCF’s energy portfolio in relation to global distributive justice.

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