The Youth Strike for Climate raised important global attention to interconnected climate, energy and environmental issues — it also compelled us to consider what we will do to address these pressing challenges. Developed through consideration of such dynamics, we propose critical energy literacy as an emerging theory that denotes understanding of the social, environmental, political and economic challenges, benefits and impacts of various energy sources, developments and technologies. Critical energy literacy is grounded in critical and decolonising approaches to STEM education; considerations for collaborative multi-, inter- and Trans disciplinary pedagogy; critical place-based inquiry and pedagogy; critical gender perspectives and critical media literacy and engagement. Enhancing societal critical energy literacy will assist with more equitable energy, transit, construction and environmental planning by and for communities, businesses and governments. In this theory-building commentary, we share insights related to and principles for our emerging theory of critical energy literacy which coalesced through personal experience with and previous studies into related initiatives and areas of inquiry, and recent reviews of literature as well as K-12, post-secondary and not-for-profit curricula in Canada with consideration for international contexts. A discussion of renewable energy development and education focused on the Canadian province of Alberta is presented as an illuminating exemplar.