FacebookTwitterLinkedInCopy LinkEmailPrint
What is "Just Transition"?

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.

Framework Development for ‘Just Transition’ in Coal Producing Jurisdictions

This academic paper provides a comparative analysis of transition policies employed in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany; Alberta, Canada; and Victoria, Australia, and offers a framework for implementing just transitions in coal-dependent jurisdictions.


The rhetoric of a just transition is central to energy and development policy discourse, yet recent studies have identified substantial challenges to its implementation. This paper provides a theoretical and practical comparative analysis of transition policies employed in three first-world jurisdictions dependent on coal: North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany, Alberta in Canada, and Victoria in Australia. These jurisdictions adopted different approaches based on their varying experiences with prior economic transitions, understandings of sustainable development, and government priorities and support.

The success of these policies is evaluated in terms of social dialogue, re-employability, re-training, and state welfare, all of which the European Trade Union Institute considers critical factors of a just transition. The authors identify which measures overcame key challenges in the achievement of a just transition and successfully ameliorated the socioeconomic well-being of coal-dependent workers and communities.

Based on these findings, the authors propose a framework for achieving a just transition in coal-dependent jurisdictions. This framework is broken into two phases, pre-transition and transition, illustrating the importance of planning and proactive social dialogue. The framework also identifies the important role of governments in assisting workers and communities in navigating the transition process and in supporting new and emerging low carbon industries in the context of sustainable development. The paper concludes by recommending topics for further study, including coal transitions in developing country contexts, consideration of a wider range of impacts, and testing of the proposed framework.