The Green Transition at the Expense of Man: A Case Study of European Energy’s Social Responsibility in the Xinjiang Controversy

Isabella Cornejo & Clara Toft Rasmussen

Studenteropgave: Kandidatafhandlinger


The purpose of this thesis is to investigate how the company European Energy (EE) addresses the paradox of what is most important; human rights or the green transition and what moral implications this has. The link to human rights violations, is the potential sourcing of polysilicon from the Chinese region Xinjiang, where most of the world’s supply originates from. Here the ethnic minority Uyghurs are being held against their will and forced labour is used. European Energy and other solar energy companies are thereby at a high risk of having forced labour in their supply chain. This is being investigated by looking into Business and Human Rights (BHR) frameworks that EE uses, to examine compliance with these on both a descriptive and normative level. Additionally the moral philosophies utilitarianism and deontology is used, to investigate the moral implications EE’s intentions, deliberations and actions has in relation to their responsibility of protecting human rights. The investigation shows that the BHR frameworks work to create a momentum reflecting that companies addressing human rights are responsible and are a means to effect change. However full compliance with the frameworks proved to be difficult primarily due to the lack of transparency from Xinjiang, the cultural differences, the opportunity to provide meaningful remedy or have real leverage, as well as the general and ambiguous nature of the frameworks, which posed challenges when trying to implement in specific situations. The moral philosophical investigation reveals that Jeremy Bentham’s utilitarianism can be used to argue for using the Uyghurs as a means because the mitigating of climate change creates happiness for a larger number of people. However the thesis proves, with the use of the contemporary utilitarianist Peter Singer, that all excess resources should be directed to help the Uyghurs. Opposite the use of deontology represented by Immanuel Kant and Christine Korsgaard, proves that man should never be used just as a means, because it could not be argued as a universal rule nor as noble. Ultimately, the investigation showed normative insights into how EE could act differently in their approach to their corporate social responsibility. The thesis also discusses the new policy regulations on the area as well as real possible actions for solar energy companies like EE on how to navigate their corporate social responsibility. Finally it concludes that EE navigates the paradox by accepting that they have two desirable sustainability objectives and that balancing this is an ongoing challenge when trying to conduct responsible business.

UddannelserMsc in Business Administration and Philosophy, (Kandidatuddannelse) Afsluttende afhandling
Udgivelsesdato15 maj 2023
Antal sider114
VejledereChristian Garmann Johnsen