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What is "Just Transition"?

A Systemic Review of the Key Elements of a Just Transition for Fossil Fuel Workers

This paper identifies key elements of a just transition for fossil fuel workers and characterizes these elements according to a preexisting justice framework.


In recognition of the disparate definitions of a just transition, this paper synthesizes the scholarly literature to identify its various elements. Through their review, the authors also seek to identify the field’s theoretical and empirical knowledge gaps. They specifically focus on the effect of bold climate action on fossil-fuel workers and their communities.

The systemic literature review includes 33 articles from different academic fields. The literature tends to focus on coal workers (as opposed to other fossil fuel workers) in Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries and is largely normative and descriptive. Collectively, these articles emphasize 17 key elements of a just transition. The authors briefly describe each of these elements and characterize them according to the Heffron and McCauley’s “JUST” framework of legal geography (i.e., distributional, procedural, restorative, recognition-based, and cosmopolitanism-based justices, as well as spatial scales and timeframe). They show how theoretical concepts such as forms of justice forms relate to specific strategies for just transitions.