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What is "Just Transition"?

Mitigating inequality with emissions? Exploring energy justice and financing transitions to low carbon energy in Indonesia

This article analyzes energy justice in Indonesia’s transition to low-carbon energy and explores how policies have exacerbated energy injustice.


This article explores Indonesia’s efforts to reduce energy poverty in its transition to low-carbon energy, with a particular focus on how distributive, procedural, and recognition justice has been included in policies aimed at increasing private investment in renewable energy electrification. Based on the analysis derived from qualitative interviews, field observation, and the review of government documents and policies, the author argues that despite Indonesia’s energy justice agenda of providing access to affordable electricity for all, the policies in place do not effectively promote energy justice.

In terms of distributive justice, the author argues that spatial injustice in electricity access is still prevalent, especially in the eastern part of Indonesia, where many communities lack reliable energy access. The author suggests that many renewable rural electrification projects may exacerbate this spatial inequality by supplying households and cities that have access to a grid network, while neglecting communities that live closest to the electricity generation sites. This is partly due to the government’s encouragement of private investment that favors large-scale projects, thereby further exacerbating geographic inequalities. The author argues that procedural injustice is also prevalent in the energy decision-making processes due to a lack of transparency in the current bidding and procurement processes and limited space for the public participation and engagement in decisions. In terms of recognition, the author asserts that marginalized communities living in areas, where electricity is not considered economically favorable, are neglected and denied electricity access.

The author also makes suggestions for better ways to incorporate energy justice principles into policies and programs. First, energy policies should include more inclusive approaches, such as encouraging public participation and increasing transparency. Second, energy policies need to incentivize diversity beyond large-scale and on-grid projects to effectively target those most affected by energy poverty. Third, contextually grounded approaches best suited to the needs of local communities should be prioritized. Finally, public finance should also be considered in addressing the needs of those most vulnerable to energy poverty.

Seizing the Urban Opportunity: How National Governments can Recover from Covid-19, Tackle the Climate Crisis and Secure shared Prosperity through Cities

This collaborative report examines how national governments can leverage cities to help address the triple challenge of Covid-19, sustainable development, and climate change.


The authors discuss how national governments can harness cities to bring about a sustainable and inclusive post-pandemic economic recovery while achieving climate goals. They focus on six emerging economies to demonstrate how fostering zero-carbon, resilient, and inclusive cities can advance national economic priorities for shared prosperity.

Referencing case studies from China, India, Indonesia, Brazil, Mexico, and South Africa, the authors explore three themes: 1) the need for a low-carbon urban transformation and its associated socio-economic benefits; 2) the importance of both resilience and decarbonization; and 3) the availability of resources to foster low-carbon, resilient, and inclusive cities. To inspire countries ahead of the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), they analyze how cities can help national governments not only achieve their climate goals and shared prosperity, but also accelerate the Covid-19 recovery by making them more connected, inclusive, and clean.

The authors conclude with a global call to action, urging national governments to develop climate and sustainable development strategies centered around cities. While governments are essential to implementing transformative policies, the authors urge national leadership to partner with the private sector and local climate-action groups to finance sustainable and resilient urban infrastructure.

Real People, Real Change: Strategies for Just Energy Transitions

This report identifies four key principles for successful just transitions: understanding the context, identifying champions, making the case, and implementing just transitions measures.


This report analyzes elements of successful strategies for just transitions through four core principles: understanding the context, identifying champions, making the case, and implementing just transitions measures. The authors provide guidelines for each of these principles, using them to examine six short case studies of just transitions in various countries, highlighting successes and failures.

The paper outlines best practices for just transitions, including a summary of steps to initiate or support just transitions. The authors recommend detailed political economy analysis be done in advance and emphasize the importance of developing clear political and communications strategies that explain the rationale and tangible benefits of transitions. The authors also identify funding mechanisms for just transitions and assess quantitative approaches to estimating employment impacts. A table lists important tactics to help achieve these goals.

Low-carbon Transitions in West Sumatra, Indonesia: Gender and Equity Dimensions

This brief provides community perspectives on renewable energy projects, focusing on gender and social equity concerns in low-carbon transitions in West Sumatra, Indonesia.


This brief provides snapshots of community perspectives on renewable energy projects in West Sumatra, Indonesia, and suggests that customized approaches are needed to address local gender and social equity concerns effectively in low-carbon transitions.

West Sumatra was selected for this study due to its high potential for renewable energy generation and diversity of possible renewable energy sources. The authors reviewed four development sites in West Sumatra as transition examples: two geothermal projects, one micro hydro project, and an oil palm company that produces biofuel and also uses waste as biomass for energy production. They conducted interviews and focus group discussions that illuminate local gender and social equity implications, which often related to customary land management practices and gender roles. They also explore lessons learned from Indonesia’s subsidy program for liquified petroleum gas.

The authors argue that policymakers should adopt a gender-sensitive approach to renewable energy decision-making to identify potential policy repercussions that could worsen existing inequalities. This approach will produce results that benefit more people and satisfy the needs of more interest groups.

Indonesia’s Energy Transition and Its Contradictions: Emerging Geographies of Energy and Finance

This case study examines several problems associated with the recent surge in international solar power investment in Indonesia, including the concentration of projects in areas that already have affordable and reliable energy access.


This case study examines the implications of a surge in international investment in solar power in Indonesia since 2015. The spike in international investment partly reflects a broader shift from investment in the Global North’s established renewable energy markets to investment in emerging markets. Regulatory changes by Indonesia’s Ministry of Mineral and Energy Resources, which aimed to add 3.6 gigawatts of installed solar capacity between 2017 and 2019, also helped attract investment.

The surge in investment, however, does not fully align with Indonesia’s stated electrification goals. While foreign developers’ proposed projects will increase the country’s overall installed solar capacity, the investment landscape does not promote the small-scale, off-grid projects that would provide affordable and reliable electricity to the 25 million Indonesians currently without access. Additionally, the new pattern of investment has triggered a shift toward large-scale, centralized projects and more complex and opaque ownership structures as private financial institutions enter the market.

While investment has helped raise Indonesia’s installed solar capacity, it has done little to address the needs of the millions of Indonesians still without access to power. The current transition path has limited ability to achieve social and political transformations, suggesting a need for more thorough planning.

A Socially Equitable Energy Transition in Indonesia: Challenges and Opportunities

This report explores the challenges and opportunities for a socially just energy transition in Indonesia and offers recommendations for the Indonesian government.


“This study seeks to determine whether a just energy transition in the context of climate change is socially and politically feasible in Indonesia. It identifies potential partners for overcoming strong government support for continued fossil fuel extraction and accelerating a transformation toward renewable energy.

As a significant producer of oil and gas, Indonesia struggles to balance its energy sources despite the decline in its fossil fuel reserves. To better understand the barriers to an energy transition in Indonesia, this paper examines its social aspects, including public perceptions. Potential barriers include a lack of funding, bureaucratic inefficiencies, and a culture of corruption among central and subnational governments.

To overcome these obstacles, the authors recommend increasing public and private sector investment in renewables, including fiscal support and better coordination across ministries. They advocate establishing new performance indicators and frameworks to monitor and evaluate these objectives. They also suggest using larger public campaigns to promote renewable energy, increased energy efficiency, and conservation efforts.”

An Institutional Analysis of Biofuel Policies and their Social Implications: Lessons from Brazil, India and Indonesia

This report assesses the social and environmental impacts of the ambitious biofuel policy programs of Brazil, India, and Indonesia.


“This comparative assessment of Brazil, India, and Indonesia—which have sought to spur rural development through the development of biofuel alternatives—indicates there are several limitations associated with socially oriented biofuel policy. In particular, these countries adopted a two-tiered approach that largely relied upon established agribusiness and only incorporated the rural poor by having them cultivate non-food crops on “marginal lands.” The author offers a list of biofuel policy recommendations for achieving more extensive socioeconomic benefits for the rural poor.

For the three countries, biofuels policy tools often included subsidies, tax incentives, and blending mandates. However, these poorly designed, top-down policies failed to alleviate the burdens of the rural poor and were later revised. These approaches often expanded incentives and markets for corporations instead of for smallholders, failed to address equity issues, and lacked smallholder participation. These policy failures resulted in increased food insecurity, exploitation of smallholders by government and agribusiness, increased instances of monoculture (which can result in reduced crop yield or resilience and therefore lost income), and poor quality of employment opportunities (as reflected in increases in seasonal and migrant work).

In the future, more participatory decision-making in biofuel policies is needed to avoid these failures and improve outcomes for the rural poor. The report identifies three elements that appear to be crucial to successful biofuel policies: combination of feedstock and food production; inclusion of the concerns and interests of smallholders; and provisions for smallholders to gradually ascend in the value chain, specifically in expanding local ownership of oil extraction facilities.”