FacebookTwitterLinkedInCopy LinkEmailPrint
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.

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.

A Just Transition for Whom? Politics, Contestation, and Social Identity in the Disruption of Coal in the Powder River Basin

This case study on the Powder River Basin in Wyoming examines the impact of the sudden shutdown of two large coal mines on local perceptions toward the energy transition and just transition policies.


This case study examines whether attitudes toward the U.S. energy transition and just transitions changed following the bankruptcy and closure of two large coal mines in 2019 in the Powder River Basin (PRB) in Wyoming. PBR, the largest coal-mining region in the United States, is home to highly productive and environmentally sustainable mechanized mining and lucrative mining jobs.

The author sets out to empirically determine whether conditions exist that allow for decreased opposition to the transition and increased support for government intervention. The analysis relies on interviews from 13 local individuals, including elected officials, advocates, government officials, a local reporter, and coal industry professionals—but no coal industry workers, as they declined to be interviewed.

The interviews suggest the sudden closure of two mines reinforced negative perceptions toward the energy transition. In fact, there is strong support for continuing to develop the coal mining industry, with advocates claiming that the less invasive mechanized mining used in the region means that PRB coal is an environmentally sustainable option. The transition remains heavily contested in the area because of the strong economic impact of the coal industry on the PRB and the deep cultural ties to mining in the area. Additionally, because of its remoteness and distance from transportation hubs, there is little impetus for economic diversification in the PRB.

Politicizing Energy Justice and Energy System Transitions: Fossil Fuel Divestment and a “Just Transition”

This paper seeks to broaden conceptualizations of energy justice to help policymakers and citizens identify the unequal distribution of costs, risks, and vulnerabilities across energy lifecycles and ensure a transition to a more just and democratized energy system.


This paper seeks to expand the current concept of energy justice across entire energy lifecycles—supply chains, production, distribution, and waste—to better illustrate the injustices of the current energy system so policymakers and citizens can identify the unequal distribution of costs, risks, and vulnerabilities across energy lifecycles. The authors identify two key areas that require greater scrutiny.

First, they call for greater recognition of politics and power dynamics. They contend that the recent divestment movement has enabled broad democratic involvement in institutional investment decisions that could have been disruptive. That movement expands “energy justice” beyond issues of the climate injustice of burning of fossil fuels to include the negative impacts of extraction, refining, production, and distribution of energy—thereby forcing responsibility onto a new set of actors.

Second, the authors call for addressing the idea of a just transition and the distributional impacts on labor in low-carbon transitions more systematically. They advocate greater recognition of the potential socioeconomic costs of decarbonizing policies, which can hinder popular support, and encourage energy justice researchers to engage more on labor issues.
The paper argues that a politicized framing of energy injustice and just energy transitions should encourage specific and localized energy policy decisions. In this way, justice analysis of an entire energy life cycle can help bridge the “bigger picture” of climate justice with the more micro-scale dimensions of energy justice and localized just transitions.

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.