FacebookTwitterLinkedInCopy LinkEmailPrint
What is "Just Transition"?

Just Urban Transitions: Toward a Research Agenda

This article proposes a new approach to just urban transitions and identifies additional research priorities to inform them based on gaps in the underlying justice literature.


Despite growing policy discussions around urban climate action and just transitions, the requirements for a just urban transition (JUT) are not well understood. This article explores JUTs by examining the intersection between urban climate action and just transitions.

The authors examine the different areas of justice scholarship—including environmental, climate, energy, and urban justice—that can inform JUTs. These various fields have elevated distributional impacts and demonstrated the importance of decisionmaking processes. However, the authors conclude that justice scholarship is largely retrospective and focused on “redressing harms rather than identifying and elaborating on agency in the process of change moving forward.”

To address this gap, the authors argue that “shifting from an evaluative perspective to a change and process-oriented perspective is critical to forwarding a JUT research and policy agenda.” Consistent with just transitions policy discussions, they call for a forward-looking approach that integrates justice principles and emphasizes change processes, alternative futures, and political and structural barriers. They conclude by identifying key questions for subsequent research on JUTs.

Transition to a Post-carbon Society: Linking Environmental Justice and Just Transition Discourses

This paper discusses how two community-led campaigns effectively challenged the hegemonic power of the fossil fuel industry in Australia, arguing that capturing environmental justice and labor concerns can further strengthen the just transitions movement.


This paper examines how community-led campaigns rooted in environmental justice and local interests successfully disrupted the long-term dominance of fossil fuel interests in the Hunter Valley region of Australia. The authors argue that these campaigns would benefit from engaging with the labor community through the just transitions discourse, which offers common ground for all stakeholders.

The authors chronicle the long dominance of the fossil fuel industry’s interests in Australian government and society and discuss the origins of two community-led campaigns in Hunter Valley: Stop T4 Coal Export Terminal and Groundswell. They argue that these sorts of social movements, which are framed around environmental justice and just transitions, can serve as a unifying force against the hegemonic power of the coal industry. By examining how different types of unions align with the practices and principles of just transitions, they provide insights into the challenges and opportunities for such campaigns to engage the labor community effectively.

The authors conclude with lessons learned, highlighting insights from the closure of former steelwork factories in the 1990s. They reiterate the potential benefits of increased collaboration with labor and community actors for environmental justice and just transition campaigns.

Mapping Just Transition(s) to a Low-carbon World

This paper defines just transitions and emphasizes the term’s roots in social and environmental justice, especially for those in the climate sphere who are less familiar with these underpinnings.


This paper helps define just transitions, emphasizing the origins of the concept in the labor movement and in social and environmental justice. The paper includes a schematic of the approaches of various groups to just transitions, mapping the views of various stakeholders and broadly grouping them under four approaches: status quo maintenance, managerial reform, structural reform, and transformative reform.

The authors review the origins of the concept of just transitions in the U.S. labor movement in the 1970s and discuss how it spread in the 2000s, largely under the rubric of climate policy and with more support from UN agencies and the International Labor Organization (ILO). The authors also explore the evolution of the just transition concept through case studies of six countries: Brazil, Canada, Germany, Kenya, South Africa, and the United States.

Just Transition’ – Just What Is It?: An Analysis of Language, Strategies, and Projects

Based on interviews with a variety of stakeholders, this report explains the concept of just transition, including its origins, evolution, usage, perception, and applications.


This report aims to explain the concept of a just transition, tracing the concept from its origins during the planned reconversion to a peacetime economy after World War II to its application in response to environmental protection policies, its spread in the labor and environmental movements, and its recent adoption and evolution in climate justice.

The findings in this report are based on seventeen interviews conducted in 2015 and 2016 with representatives from activist networks, grassroots organizations, organized labor, and environmental groups. These interviews provide insight into how the range of stakeholders use and perceive the term, how these different concepts entail different policy solutions, and the types of relationships that are developing as stakeholders pursue just transitions.

Despite the growth of the concept and language of a just transition, the authors suggest that there are few examples of just transitions in practice. This report provides several, mostly local-level examples of just transitions programs. It concludes with research questions for future dialogues and a call for communities and groups to contribute to a shared vision of how to achieve just transitions.

From Environmental to Climate Justice: Climate Change and the Discourse of Environmental Justice

This academic paper traces the environmental justice discourse and its influence on various articulations of climate justice, as well as recent discussions on “just adaptation” to climate change.


This academic paper traces the articulations of environmental justice since its development and its subsequent influence on the three main forums for climate justice discourse: academia, nongovernmental organizations, and grassroots movements. Of these three articulations, the key concerns and principles of environmental justice are clearest in the climate justice discourse developed from grassroots movements—which have greater focus on local impacts and experience, inequitable vulnerabilities, the importance of community voice, and demands for community sovereignty and functioning.

In addition, this review traces how environmental justice affects more recent articulations of ideas for “just adaptation” to climate change. In this context, adaptation touches on issues of participation, cultural impacts, and a community’s basic needs and ability to function. This broad set of justice concerns around adaptation is not only reactive but also reconstructive, which suggests adaptation can be transformative.

What is the “Just Transition”?

This academic paper provides a critical review of the overlapping disciplines of climate, energy, and environmental justice and proposes a just transitions framework to encompass these three disciplines using the concept of “legal geography.”


This academic paper provides a high-level, critical review of the overlapping disciplines of climate, energy, and environmental (CEE) justice. The authors examine the limitations of CEE research and argue that justice scholars should work together to present a united perspective on just transitions to increase public understanding and acceptance.

They present a framework for just transitions that borrows from the emerging area of “legal geography,” which allows for interdisciplinary study of the concept of justice as it applies across space and time. This framework integrates the separate CEE justice disciplines and accounts for different forms of justice (distributional, procedural, and restorative, as well as recognition and cosmopolitanism), the space where injustices occur, and the pace of the transition.