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Justice in energy transitions

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Abstract

This paper argues that transitions research more broadly needs to take more account of justice in its analysis. This paper draws primarily from environmental and energy justice literature to engage with the concept of justice in transitions research, as it seeks justice for people, communities, and the non-human environment from negative environmental impacts. This is achieved through different forms of justice: distributive, procedural, and recognition. Our paper concludes with reflections upon the application of a justice approach to sustainability transitions research and offer insights into a potentially new research agenda.

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... Theoretically and conceptually oriented just transition research is generally characterized by two perspectives. The first is descriptive conceptual mapping, i.e. characterizing themes that are central to just transitions (Kaljonen et al., 2021;McCauley and Heffron, 2018;Williams and Doyon, 2019). The second is methodological negativism (Hull, 2015): a focus on the existing or potential injustices which need to be prevented, alleviated, or compensated to make the transition just (e.g., Evans and Phelan, 2016;Newell and Mulvaney, 2013;Sovacool et al., 2019). ...
... The distribution of material and immaterial goods that every person wants or needs, regardless of her or his conception of a good life (Rawls, 1971, p. 62), constitutes a core building block of almost all perspectives on social justice. Thus, the distribution of benefits and burdens of transition impacts, including resources and risks, is among the core questions of any just transition (for food systems Kaljonen et al., 2021;and Williams and Doyon, 2019). Not all distributive inequalities imply injustice, however. ...
... addressed (Williams and Doyon, 2019), and participants who (should) have a say must actually be listened to (Loo, 2019). Because informal procedural injustices are often linked to epistemic injustices (Dieleman, 2015), both aspects are incorporated under this general principle. ...
Article
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In this article, we propose a framework of principles and criteria for just transitions in food systems. Climate mitigation activities are urgently needed in food systems, but can have damaging social, environmental, economic, and health impacts. Consequently, food system transitions can cause significant side effects across and beyond food systems, aggravating existing inequalities and unsustainabilities, causing new ones, or hampering equal engagement in the transition itself. Thus, justice questions stand at the core of assessing decarbonization pathways and policies and must link to other sectors as well: Who bears the costs and who enjoys the benefits of the transitions? Can transitions be inclusive, leaving no one behind? We examine the establishment and purpose of general principles and food system-specific criteria for just transition, present the framework – standards for judging, evaluating, and deliberating justice in food system transitions – and reflect upon the uses of the framework and future developments.
... The UN 2030 Agenda, the Paris Climate Agreement and the European Green Deal aim for a 'just transition' to a sustainable society, 'leaving no one behind'. From a normative standpoint but also with regard to the acceptability and feasibility of political action, it seems important to consider inequality and justice issues and to attempt to avoid 'unjust' measures and outcomes (Healy & Barry, 2017;Klinsky et al., 2017;Patterson et al., 2018;Williams & Doyon, 2019). ...
... First, it includes a comparative assessment of mostly conceptual publications on environmental justice, climate justice (and, more generally, justice in the context of climate change) with a focus on burden-sharing principles for mitigation policies, energy justice, just transition and cross-cutting publications. This has not been a systematic literature review, instead it focused on key publications on each of the concepts (see key references mentioned above and reference list at the end), taking as starting point publications where a comparison of (some of) the existing concepts is already included (Bennett et al., 2019;Healy & Barry, 2017;Heffron & McCauley, 2018;Jenkins, 2018;Newell & Mulvaney, 2013;Schlosberg & Collins, 2014;Williams & Doyon, 2019). Given these cross-cutting publications with excellent introductions into the different concepts, such an introduction is not repeated in this article. ...
... A categorization extensively used throughout the existing literature on climate-, energy-and environmental justice distinguishes between three dimensions (also called 'forms' or 'tenets') of social justice: distributional (distributive), procedural and recognitional justice. Broadly speaking, distributional justice is about the fair distribution of benefits and burdens, procedural justice about inclusion and equal participation in decision-making, and recognitional justice (or justice as recognition) about the equal acknowledgment of and respect for all cultures, worldviews and identities (Williams & Doyon, 2019). Based on more fundamental philosophical discourses, the triad was established by and is especially prominent in the environmental justice literature (e.g. ...
Article
Free eprint link: https://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/GRIXGSSUNSKXIKPCTHWG/full?target=10.1080/14693062.2022.2142499 Abstract: Several streams of research have discussed important aspects of social inequalities and justice in the context of climate, energy, and environmental issues. However, there is often a narrow focus on specific aspects, bearing the risk that tensions and trade-offs for policy are easily overlooked, and sometimes involving a loose, implicit, inconsistent, or uncritical use of the term justice. I argue to clearly separate the empirical analysis of inequalities from their normative assessment, and to adequately consider the large variety of potentially relevant inequalities as well as the variety of justice principles. In support of such an approach, this article suggests categorizations of (1) basic dimensions of social inequality in the context of climate and environment; (2) different social impacts of climate and environmental policies; and (3) different justice principles. The overall aim is to have typologies and an organizing framework at hand that help to systematically identify a broad range of inequalities which can then be discussed against different justice principles. This shall allow a better detection of intersectionality and policy trade-offs as well as broader-based normative judgments in research and in policy assessments (evaluations).
... Some authors add restorative justice in the sense of remedying the foregoing injustices (e.g. Heffron and McCauley 2018) [19][20][21]). Some further add cosmopolitan justice as relating to "to global and universal impacts" [22]p.4; ...
... Our first collection of studies deals with energy and environmental justice in the context of industrial decline. For instance Ref. [20], argue that the core concepts of justice in environmental justice -distributive justice, procedural justice and justice as recognitionadequately characterise most of the relevant justice issues involved in just transitions. They derive classes of key questions regarding just transitions that become even more apt in an industrial context: the risks of not incorporating justice concerns when thinking about and enacting transitions processes; and mitigation strategies to overcome those risks [20]. ...
... For instance Ref. [20], argue that the core concepts of justice in environmental justice -distributive justice, procedural justice and justice as recognitionadequately characterise most of the relevant justice issues involved in just transitions. They derive classes of key questions regarding just transitions that become even more apt in an industrial context: the risks of not incorporating justice concerns when thinking about and enacting transitions processes; and mitigation strategies to overcome those risks [20]. Most authors, however, argue for additional nuance. ...
Article
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Here we propose a framework for considering the justice issues of industrial cluster decarbonisation, a pressing challenge confronting many industrialised economies. Industrial clusters are large, multi-point source emitters, users of energy and employers of regional and national significance. In the UK, establishing low carbon industrial clusters is one of several grand challenges of industrial strategy. Theorising the just transition of industrial clusters requires concepts from multiple literatures. We abstract relevant themes from the intersections of the literatures of just transitions, innovation studies and sociotechnical transitions, and public participation in spatial planning, and illustrate their empirical relevance. The broad themes of our framework are (i) politics, space and institutions, with sub-themes of justice, democracy, financialization; (ii) new processes and procedures, with sub-themes of legal recognition of public concerns, community-based planning, community capacity enhancement and life cycle impact assessment; and (iii) correlates of acceptance and resistance, with sub-themes of environmental values, perceived loss of amenity, pre-existing politics, perceptions of just process and trust in the developer. The framework is intended to both guide the design of just transition processes ex-ante and evaluate these post-hoc.
... Hopkins et al. responded to the new research agenda by taking this idea further and argue that transitions research needs "deeper and fuller engagement with post-and decolonial thought across the social science and humanities" [2]. In locations with settler/colonial/Indigenous cultures, it is important for practitioners and researchers to acknowledge the complex histories and engage in recognition justice within transitions processes [3]. ...
... 2 Geels is one of the most cited transitions scholars, he has been cited 44,615 times (Google Scholar). 3 Markard is the lead author of the article 'Sustainability transitions: An emerging field of research and its prospects' in Research Policy, which is widely used to define transitions in academic publications and has been cited 2478 times (Google Scholar). ...
... Bennett, et al. believe that the adoption and application of just transformations to environmental decision-making requires further attention [38]. Williams and Doyon argue that transitions research needs to have a more explicit account of justice in its analysis and propose an analytical framework with questions that address often left out or difficult issues that need to be part of transitions discussions [3]. ...
Article
This paper presents an integrative literature review of representation of Indigenous peoples and knowledge in transitions scholarship. The aim of the review is to contribute to the broadening of the conceptual lenses used in transitions research and highlight emerging themes. Through an inductive latent content analysis, we identified five themes from the literature review: calls for more work, geography, justice, Indigenous-led, and governance and participation. Then we identified four emerging research directions: the phenomenon of “epistemological superiority”, issues with research methods, relationships to systems, justice, and governance, and connection to land. We end the paper with an invitation for researchers to contribute to this area of research, and guidance for how we can broaden conceptual lens and respectfully include different perspectives in transitions research.
... Within the climate policy literature, two aspects of justice are often described: distributive justice related to the possible beneficial or adverse impacts resulting from the implementation or non-implementation of a decision (Young, 1994;Klinsky and Dowlatabadi, 2009), and procedural justice related to how parties perceive their position and engagement in the processes of policymaking (Tyler, 1990;Lawrence et al., 1997;Emami et al., 2015). How citizens and interest groups perceive their positions and engagement has previously been studied, for example, in relation to energy transitions (Williams and Doyon, 2019;Vringer and Carabain, 2020;Devine-Wright et al., 2021), renewable energy projects (Goedkoop and Devine-Wright, 2016) and climate change adaptation within agricultural sector (Popke et al., 2016). ...
... Participation can take many forms, from simply hearing affected parties to giving them power in decision-making (Paavola, 2005). Participation also requires recognition, which implies respect and being valued (Fraser, 2001;Paavola, 2005;Williams and Doyon, 2019). Finland has been active in developing consultation procedures through guidelines for public hearings (Finnish Council of State., 2016). ...
Article
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This article examines the public perceptions on the drafting process of Finnish Climate Act amendment, which is a legislation on the climate policy that aims to mitigate climate change and secure adaptive capacity. In this paper we present results of a thematic analysis, which reveals citizens' perceptions of the procedural values, with respect to transparency, participation, and acceptance, and the objectives of the amendment, such as the climate neutrality target for 2035. The research data consisted of 2,458 answers to a citizen survey on the Finnish Climate Change Act amendment. Our results reveal that the opinions of citizens ranged from highlighting the urgency of political action to climate denials, with varying perceptions on process and proposed outcomes. While over half of citizens felt positively about the 2035 climate neutrality target created in the Climate Change Amendment Act, only a third believed that there was appropriate opportunity for public participation in the amendment process. Based on these findings, we suggest that participatory and transparent processes in legislative drafting are prerequisites for the sustainability transition and the implementation of international climate mitigation targets.
... Määrällisiä ja laadullisia tutkimusmenetelmiä yhdistelevän tarkastelumme käsitteellisenä viitekehyksenä toimii energiaoikeudenmukaisuutta ja oikeudenmukaista siirtymää koskeva tieteellinen keskustelu (Jenkins ym. 2016;MacCauley & Heffron 2018;Williams & Doyon 2019;Cha 2020). Olemme kiinnostuneita turvealalla toimivien kokemista energia(epä)oikeudenmukaisuuden eri muodoista sekä oikeudenmukaisemman vähähiilisen energiasiirtymän mahdollisuuksista erityisesti turvealan kontekstissa. ...
... 2016;Crowe & Li 2018;MacCauley & Heffron 2018;Cha 2020). Jotkut kirjoittajat ovat täydentäneet tätä kolmijakoa niin sanotulla tunnustavalla (recognition) ulottuvuudella, joka alleviivaa tarvetta yhtäältä aidosti tunnistaa menetyksiä kärsineet osapuolet ja toisaalta myös koettujen menetysten kirjo koko inhimillisessä laajuudessaan (Williams & Doyon 2019). ...
Article
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The current fossil fuel reliant global energy system is in rapid transition towards low-carbon energy sources. In the Finnish context, a significant target for emission reduction policies has been the country’s carbon dioxide intensive peat energy sector. As a part of the path towards a climate neutral Finland by 2035, the government has set the aim to halve peat energy use by 2030 and, as a part of these transition policies, the principle of providing a just transition for those deriving their livelihood from peat harvesting has been embraced. However, the use of peat has been declining at a much more rapid pace than anticipated, also jeopardizing the just transition promised for those engaged in the peat industry. In this article, we take a focus on the experiences of those who are deriving their livelihood from peat harvesting and related activities with an interest on how they are experiencing the justness of Finland’s peat policies and the ongoing transition. The experiences of our 400 survey respondents reflect the grave societal, economic and human consequences of the multifaceted failures of Finland’s peat transition policies. The lessons learned from the Finnish peat transition can be utilized in planning and implementing more sustainable policies for other livelihoods facing similar transitions. peat; energy; climate; just transition; Finland
... The choice of cases is also opportune in the sense that the authors of this paper have been directly involved in researching and evaluating the respective cases used, using similar frameworks for data collection with similar research aims. Both cases have been reported separately elsewhere [43,[47][48][49] in papers led by the co-authors, which is why in-depth accounts into each particular case are sparse in this paper to instead leave space to present comparative findings and reflections. This is a general strategy taken in multi case research where comparative findings are at the forefront [46]. ...
... The EFL has played the role of modelling new forms of governance and actor engagement. For example, the EFL embodies procedural, distributive, and recognition-based justice [49]. The EFL's success in supporting development of agency within Fellows and their ability to exercise that agency within regime institutions provides an avenue through which elements of practice may become formalized in policy. ...
Article
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Purposeful transformative change on a level of societal systems, structures and practices is called for in response to contemporary sustainability challenges. Sustainability transition labs and arenas represent a particular set of governance innovations seeking to foster systemic change based on deliberate engagement of multiple actors around complex issues of concern. Most labs aim for long-term contributions in addressing persistent societal challenges and transitioning into sustainability, yet are seldomly evaluated on whether, how and to what extents such contributions become realised in practice. In this paper, we further an analytical framework for comparatively analysing sustainability transition labs and arenas with emphasis on their processes, effects and impacts. The framework is applied on two cases: Energy Futures Lab initiated in Alberta, Canada and the arenas for a Fossil Independent West Sweden - Climate 2030. In particular, the comparison showcases how contextual difference in terms of urgency and turbulence may influence lab activities and how ownership and governance conditions may influence the various directions outputs, effects and wider impacts took. The comparison further illuminates how backcasting and the multi-level perspective may serve as complementary frameworks and tools in lab processes, whose respective role may depend on aspiration and context. We end the paper by providing a series of key considerations in furthering the comparative analytical framework and its application in practice. They orient around the three guiding questions on the why's, what's, and how's of doing comparative research on sustainability transition arenas and labs across their processes, effects and impacts.
... The just transition is most often conceived of as involving at least three dimensions of justice: distributional, procedural, and recognition. The first is concerned with the distribution of costs, benefits, and capacities to respond; the second relates to inclusion, transparency, and empowerment in process and governance; the final is concerned with the recognition of interested groups and their rights (Krawchenko & Gordon, 2021;Williams & Doyon, 2019). The latter represents a decisive correction to the focus on male fossil fuel workers in early labor-oriented just transition frameworks and strategies. ...
... The latter represents a decisive correction to the focus on male fossil fuel workers in early labor-oriented just transition frameworks and strategies. Increasingly, restorative justice is also being incorporated to reflect how economic and political structures systematically create injustices and to bring into focus how the just transition can address -and redress -this (Wang & Lo, 2021;Williams & Doyon, 2019). In contrast to the more normative conceptual literature, empirical studies applying just transition frameworks systematically or evaluating their application are limited. ...
Article
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Concern around the employment impacts of climate mitigation policies can be a contentious and politized issue, with potentially limiting implications for climate action. It persists despite a significant ex ante literature that suggests that aggregate effects will most likely be limited and net positive. This review analyses 60 papers assessing the employment impacts of climate policies ex post, in 20 countries and 2 country groups. Eight broad mitigation policies are covered: (1) emissions trading, (2) carbon taxes, (3) feed‐in tariffs, renewable energy (4) procurement and (5) deployment, (6) green economy/jobs, (7) environmental regulation, and (8) other policies and regulations. The analysis confirms that employment impacts tend to be modest and net positive or neutral, but reveals that distributional outcomes can be uneven, disadvantaging certain groups and at times reinforcing existing inequalities. Additionally, lower quality jobs or weak labor market regulations may decrease the attractiveness of jobs created or increase job transition costs. These findings provide some justification for increased focus on how climate policies can ensure a “just transition of the workforce and the creation of decent work and quality jobs” stipulated in the Paris Agreement, but also suggest that climate action should not be delayed for fear of widespread negative employment impacts. Ex post assessments offer an important lens into the determinants of climate policy employment outcomes and should be advanced and harnessed in support of accelerated and just action. This article is categorized under: Economics of Mitigation > Climate Economics Social Justice and the Politics of Development > Climate and Development
... Enabling marginalized groups to self-identify their own needs and priorities can also help to mitigate misrepresentation (Fitzgibbons & Mitchell, 2019). An acknowledgement of the diversity of local needs, values, and interests is also key for recognition justice (Williams & Doyon, 2019). ...
Article
Current framing of Blue Economy is problematic and deficient in a number of key aspects, specifically in terms of how resilience and justice are currently understood and applied in Blue Economy discourse. A more holistic and comprehensive understanding and framing of what a sustainable Blue Economy is, is required to avoid perpetuation of the ecological and social problems of conventional economic growth. New understandings of Blue Economy which place justice, resilience and sustainability centrally are required if the Blue Economy concept is to retain credibility in the context of ongoing climate disruptions, socio‐economic challenges and the progressive degradation of coastal ecosystems. Blue Economy needs to represent a practical, real‐world solution to these issues for coastal communities striving for sustainability. While ideas of ‘just transition’ have been afforded considerable attention in the literature, here the argument is forwarded for a ‘just disruptions’ approach, underpinned by presentation of a novel framework. The ‘just disruptions’ framework posits that rights based and capabilities‐based approaches to justice, including principles of distributive and procedural justice be applied to inform adaptive and resilience focused responses in coastal zones. Applying these principles in practice, the realities of space, place, scale, and power relations need to be acknowledged and more deliberately considered. Such a framing is urgently required to firmly ground debates on Blue Growth and Blue Economy in the imperatives of resilience, and social and ecological sustainability.
... One of them being the ethical and political dimension of health inequities and intervening with such a delicate topics like perinatal health and birth of new life in general. In addition, the notion of justice as an orienting principle for transitions [57,58] is a promising and necessary avenue for future research with regards to health inequities. Furthermore, studying health inequities can also be linked to equity in food, mobility, and energy systems and can yield academic and practical cross-fertilization. ...
Article
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We apply a transition research perspective to the Dutch obstetric care system to analyze historic, current, and future shifts and find ways to overcome persistent health inequities. We present social obstetrics as an emerging niche that addresses perinatal health inequities by acknowledging their multifaceted origins and fostering collaborations across the medical, social, and public health sectors. We conducted desk research, in-depth semi-structured expert interviews, and interactive group sessions with change-inclined professionals that are relevant for the implementation of social obstetrics in six Dutch municipalities. The outcomes are synthesized in a historical narrative and perspectives on current obstacles and future systemic shifts. We argue that social obstetrics can be considered a sustainable addition to what is already present, instead of a disruptive transformation of the current system. Social obstetrics is innovative as it connects various societal systems and offers a framework for cross-sectoral collaboration. These collaborations, in turn, can be the starting point for the transformation of the obstetric care system as well as other relevant societal systems.
... This highlights the need to implement equitable and just energy transition [7,8]. A sustainable transition cannot be achieved without justice; in fact, a transition that does not include greater engagement with social justice issues and without social inclusion cannot be sustainable [9]. ...
Article
Energy transition requires systematic changes, not only to energy technologies but also to the broader political, social, environmental, and economic assemblages that are built around energy production and consumption. Changes in the energy supply and the shift toward renewable energy resources cannot be comprehensively understood without considering the implications of spatial and policy dimensions. This study examined the subnational energy transition in Sao Paulo state, Brazil, and discusses the role of policies and governance in energy transition. The historical series of energy production and consumption of Sao Paulo state were analyzed from 1980 to 2019, and the institutional frameworks that promoted energy transition were also explored. The results show that the effective final consumption of each energy source in the analyzed period (40 years) increased. Despite the increasing proportion of renewable energies (particularly ethanol), fossil fuel consumption grew in this period, which shows a tendency of addition rather than a thorough energy transition. Furthermore, energy governance remains largely dependent on a centralized approach in Brazil. Although there is a growing debate regarding the role of decentralized solutions, energy policy and regulation are still not considered to be the responsibilities of local governments. Cross-sectoral cooperation focused on territorially oriented solutions can improve spatial order by integrating local level capabilities into multilevel governance for the energy transition.
... On one hand, justice as recognition pays attention to respecting and valuing different (groups of) people and their specific needs and situations with a particular interest in avoiding cultural and institutional discrimination. On the other hand, procedural justice is devoted to the fairness of decision-making procedures and pays attention to inclusion and exclusion in the procedures, as well as to capacity to influence the resultant decisions (Williams and Doyon 2019). ...
Article
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Sustainability transitions governance needs to be inclusive and participatory and the question of justice is crucial for making effective and acceptable changes possible. But how do we ensure adequate participation in governance processes and enable reconciliation between competing goals in relation to sustainability transitions? Transition management highlights the need for participatory and reflexive governance processes to enable sustainability transitions. However, due to participant selection and limitations in chosen approaches, deliberative and participatory forums may have difficulties ensuring justice and legitimacy. A systemic and practice-oriented perspective on deliberation points to the need to widen deliberative activities and analysis on multiple sites, but the connection to transition governance and justice remains weak. In the context of food systems, various movements and networks, such as alternative food networks, food-policy councils, and food-sovereignty movements, work to create a more just and sustainable food system. They form an interesting manifestation for participation in just food governance and can provide new ideas for the development of more equitable governance practices. We analyze studies on civil society participation in food-system transitions to develop understanding of how to improve just transition governance. Based on this investigation, more just sustainability transition governance requires systemic and reflexive deliberation that is also capable of accounting for the role of social movements. There furthermore is a need for institutional arrangements to support this kind of decision making.
... På den ene siden har vi fordelingsmessig rettferdighet som er knyttet til de berørtes tilgang til ressurser og muligheter herunder til fordelingen av miljømessige goder, ulemper og fordeler. Prosedyremessig rettferdighet på den andre siden er knyttet til de berørtes deltakelse i politikkutforming og i beslutningsprosesser (Williams & Doyon, 2019). ...
Technical Report
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Klimautfordringene aktualiserer nye grep om regionalpolitikken. Norske regioner med høy grad av olje- og gassavhengighet er særlig utfordret. Her har leverandørindustrien ulike næringsmessige forutsetninger for og bestrebelser på klimaomstilling. Rapporten analyserer utviklingen av en fornybarsektor som havvind i lys av utviklingen innenfor olje- og gassektoren. Et politisk-industrielt regime synes å ha låst norsk økonomi i et O&G-spor. Men industriutviklingen er ikke prisgitt denne innelåsningen. Leverandørindustrien ser muligheter og har til dels diversifisert mot nye andre, gjerne fornybarsektorer. En riktig mix av policy kan fremskynde denne bærekraftige omstillingen. Det er betimelig å diskutere og adressere en klimapolitikk mot bærekraftig omstilling på regionalt nivå, ettersom både utfordringene og løsningene finnes her. Rapporten drøfter dette i lys av norske tradisjoner for kommunal- og regional omstilling. Metoder for smart spesialisering kan gjerne kobles med prinsipper for rettferdig bærekraftig omstilling. Rapporten presenterer eksempler på bærekraftig omstilling på Stord og i Verdal. Hjørnesteinsbedriften på Stord ser muligheter for diversifisering mot havvind og dekommisjonering av oljeplattformer. Ellers i regionen skjer teknologisk uttesting og industriell utvikling av maritime fremdriftssystemer som ikke gir klimagassutslipp og andre bærekraftige energiløsninger. Hjørnesteinsbedriften i Verdal har tatt initiativ for å etablere en teknologisk avansert produksjonslinje som skal levere både understell for havvindmøller og O&G-plattformer samt havmerder. Andre aktører i regionen har funnet nisjer innenfor bioenergi eller utvikler unik teknologi for karbonfangst og lagring. Rapporten kommer med noen generelle anbefalinger til policy-mix for rettferdig bærekraftig omstilling i karbonintensive regioner: Det er et overordnet behov for en helhetlig bærekraftig omstillingspolitikk som henger sammen på tvers av forvaltningsnivå. Et tverrsektorielt perspektiv på næringsutvikling krever at politikkområder som olje og energi, næring, klima og miljø og kommunal- og regional koordineres. Det fordrer en policy-mix som balanserer miljø-, økonomiske- og sosiale dimensjoner, samt kortsiktige tiltak og langsiktige strategier. Rapporten presenterer også andre og mer spesielle policy-anbefalinger.
... There is a consequential nature to labs concerning the voices that are included, the views and interests that are expressed and the outcomes that are decided upon. This is due to the realization that transitions, within which labs and other initiates are embedded, are matters of justice, as ethical as they are technical (Williams & Doyon, 2019). ...
Article
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Sustainability is high on the political agenda, with its analytical and practical importance underscored in the field of sustainability transitions. Experiments, arenas, and laboratories are frequently highlighted as real-world objects to investigate sustainability in place. Despite existing lab studies, attempts at comparison at the empirical level remain unconvincing. Here, sustainability remains oversimplified, warranting further investigation to unpack how labs compare in their orientation towards sustainability. This article presents a rigorous and transparent empirically grounded typology, intended to discern ways to engage with sustainability. We outline and elaborate upon six distinctive types entitled: 1) Fix and control, 2) (Re-)Design and optimize, 3) Make and relate, 4) Educate and engage, 5) Empower and govern, and 6) Explore and shape. This study highlights similarities and differences between labs, and across different types. These findings are discussed with reference to ongoing conceptualizations on directionality, providing a fruitful point of departure for ongoing transitions research.
... In that light, transition scholarship points to the need to explore justice dimensions of large-scale transformation processes (e.g., Köhler et al., 2019;McCauley and Heffron, 2018;Williams and Doyon, 2019). While justice is a contested concept, scholars argue there are many different dimensions of social justice such as (1) distributive justice; (2) procedural justice; (3) recognition justice; and (4) restorative justice (see i.e. ...
Article
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In this paper, we explore the relation between democracy and justice in governing agri-food transitions. We argue that a deeper understanding of democracy is needed to foster just transitions. First, we present a multi-dimensional understanding of justice in transitions and relate it to scholarship on democratizing transitions. Then, we argue that three paradigm shifts are required to overcome current unsustainable dynamics: (1) from expert toward pluralist understandings of knowledge; (2) from economic materialism toward post-growth strategies; and (3) from anthropocentrism toward reconnecting human-nature relationships. We explicate what these paradigm shifts entail for democratizing transitions from distributive, procedural, recognition and restorative justice perspectives. Finally, we highlight six challenges to institutionalizing deep democratic governance. These entail balancing tensions between: multiple justice dimensions, democracy and urgency, top-down and bottom-up directionalities, local and global scales, realism and idealism, and roles of incumbent scientific systems. This requires thoroughly rethinking transition studies’ normative and democratic ambitions.
... Recent research has elaborated on the notion of energy justice, drawing on the well-established concepts of environmental justice, applying this framework to the study of the distributive, procedural, and recognition justice in decision-making on NWM (Bell, 2021;Cotton, 2018Cotton, , 2021Jenkins et al., 2016;Schlosberg, 2013;Sovacool et al., 2017;Williams & Doyon, 2019). Distributive justice focuses on outcomes (Cotton, 2021), requiring fair and equal distribution of the risks, costs, and benefits of a project between the involved groups and individuals. ...
Article
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After decades of preparation, the final disposal of spent nuclear fuel has reached the construction stage in Finland, and the neighboring Sweden is likely to soon follow in the footsteps. These Nordic countries rely on a similar technical concept based on passive safety, advocated as a means of minimizing the burden to future generations. The scholarly literature on the ethics of nuclear waste management has thus far paid little attention to the views of the broader publics on the associated ethical challenges. This article helps to fill the gap through a longitudinal and comparative analysis of ethical discussion of the final disposal of SNF in news articles and letters to the editor in four leading Finnish and Swedish daily newspapers in 2008–2015. The study period included major milestones in the licensing processes of the respective two repository projects. The article examines the attention paid to intra- and intergenerational distributive and procedural justice, the changes in the ethical agenda over time, and the societal actor groups that receive attention in the media. The analysis reveals two distinct ethical media agendas: (1) the news article agenda that is dominated by framings of the main players (industry, politicians, authorities, and experts) and largely excludes future generations from the scope of justice, and (2) the agenda represented by the letters to the editor, which focuses on intergenerational justice concerns. Particularly, in the Finnish letters to the editor the value of the lives of distant future generations was discounted implicitly.
... While the latter is hardly new or unexpected, it underscores the premise of another rapidly growing sub-literature and principle in the field of sustainability transitions, namely just transitions. This principle "connects the concept of social justicemore specifically, the equitable distribution of the benefits and costs of the transition away from high carbon and unsustainable development trajectorieswith the environmental, climate, resource and energy reasons for that transition" [5] p. 7. Typically, authors distinguish between at least three types of justice in this context: procedural (how decisions are taken and particularly the degree of social inclusivity involved); distributional (consequences in terms of access to resources); and recognitional (the extent to which typically marginalised voices are heard and listened to) [6][7][8]. This paper beyond these further contributes to the limited research on energy and transport poverty in Iceland and how their interaction influences individual choices and capabilities. ...
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The concept of 'just transitions' holds that sociotechnical change should not be achieved at the expense of vulnerable social groups. Here we take the case of a country with a high level of primary energy share that is renewable-Iceland-as well as high living standards, showing how energy and transport poverty are both possible and precariously experienced. Although Iceland performs well in OECD terms with respect to the Gini index of income inequality, poverty is nonetheless systemically present. While the percentage of the population in poverty is small, for those individuals, the experience shapes their lives. Focusing on energy and transport poverty, we draw together analysis of Statistics Iceland data; focus groups with representative members of the Icelandic public; and interviews with people self-identifying as either having a disability or experiencing poverty. We take disability as an exemplar case of a vulnerable group. While none of our interviewees had experienced loss of access to heat in the home, some had experienced deliberate disconnection by power companies. All interviewees experienced transport-related difficulties in terms of cost or access, and the focus group participants provide details on the mixed experience of the more typical Icelander via a vis transport. The Icelandic case illustrates how welfare state benefit design and the general cost of living impact individuals' lived experience of transport and energy use in the home, despite energy supply being low carbon. We discuss corresponding policy and research implications.
... Recognizing that an energy transition impacts more than energy workers, discussions of just transition further highlighted the environmental justice dimension, integrating ideals of justice into energy transitions (Williams & Doyon, 2019). By doing so, just transition discourse broadens from focusing only on the immediate needs of displaced workers and communities, to broader questions of who benefits from the energy transition, how do they benefit, and why do they benefit (Newell & Mulvaney, 2013). ...
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This paper argues that labour and community-led advocacy efforts towards a just transition are fundamental to delivering the promises of a Green New Deal (GND) and a just post-carbon world. To this end, an ambitious, far-reaching project was launched by the Labor Network for Sustainability, a non-governmental organization dedicated to bridging the labor and climate movements, in Spring 2020 called the “Just Transition Listening Project’’ (JTLP). Over the course of several months, the JTLP interviewed over 100 individuals, including rank-and-file union members, union officials, environmental and climate justice advocates, and Indigenous and community advocates to understand what makes transition “just,” what opportunities exist for a broad coalition to advance a GND-style proposal, and to document the struggles facing working people and communities across the U.S. In doing so, we utilize the tools of political geography to examine the politics of spatiality, networks, and scale as well as the geographical and spatial dimensions of policy and political-economic institutions. We are particularly mindful of two spatial dynamics. First, that transition policies, particularly in a hegemonic country like the USA, have global implications. The industrial transition that took place from the 1970s to the 1990s, for example, bred nativism because it cast other countries as the cause of the problem. Second, critical geographers have pointed out that environmental justice (EJ) has been neoliberalized in the U.S. as a result of its operationalization, spatialization, and administration, starting with the Clinton Administration. Because JT is rising on the national and global agendas, we pay close attention to whether these dynamics that affected EJ are also operating with respect to JT, as well as how they can be contained. This research is particularly timely given the ongoing federal governmental efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 and provide basic economic and social supports. The process of the JTLP parallels the goals of the GND–intersectional efforts rooted in community knowledge for the development of a people-led GND. This paper details the process of the JTLP and the prospects for intersectional, broad-based movements that are the only way a GND can be realized
... It is therefore essential that the Region initiates a public debate on the transition to a circular economy covering both innovation and exnovation policies. This debate must involve all the actors concerned by the transition (or their representatives) in order to ensure procedural justice and the recognition of the plurality of needs and values (Jenkins et al. 2016;Schlosberg 2007;Sovacool et al. 2017;Williams and Doyon 2019). The debate on the transitioning to a circular economy should ideally aim to build a compromise between the different points of view on: ...
... The variety of concept meanings makes this literature field dispersed, where the meaning of and relation to the different strands remains unclear [9]. Among the strands of literature, Williams and Doyon [32] focus on "issues of power", while another proposed framework by [33] draws from sociotechnical systems and energy justice theory to ensure a whole-system approach. ...
Article
In 2018, the European Union laid the foundation for a large-scale energy transition: away from fossilbased energy and towards renewable, sustainable energy solutions. A transition of such a large scale comes with challenges. To cope with the ills that an energy transition brings the European Commission proposed the Just Transition Fund in 2021. It serves as a financial buffer and provides strategic support for the successful energy transition to decrease injustices. Programs that aim at resolving transition justice issues are not new to Europe. The question, therefore, arises whether issues that arose or could not be solved with these past programs are addressed by the Just Transition Fund. To answer this question, three case studies that were supported by the Initiative for Coal Regions in Transition were assessed with the just transition framework. This research shows that Just Transition Fund propagates many of the detected past justice issues. The most prominent justice issues found were distributive and procedural due to scarce funding and a lack of stakeholder participation.
... Counties with the highest ambient PM 2.5 concentrations tend to have larger proportions of Black populations (Miranda et al 2011) and Black populations have been found to have nearly 10% greater exposure to ambient PM 2.5 pollution than White populations (Bell and Ebisu 2012). As such, air pollution represents a major concern for distributive environmental justice (EJ), meaning the equal distribution of environmental harms across populations (Williams and Doyon 2019). Here we evaluate how potential lowcarbon policies might impact health across the U.S., with a focus on racial disparities. ...
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As policy organizations consider strategies to mitigate climate change, decarbonization initiatives can also reduce health-impacting air pollutants and may affect the associated racial disparities of adverse effects. With the U.S. EPA CO-Benefits Risk Assessment Health Impacts Screening Tool (COBRA), we compare three decarbonization scenarios and their impacts at the regional and county scales. COBRA calculates changes in county-level ambient fine particulate matter (PM2.5), and associated mortality impacts, for each decarbonization scenario. We compare these patterns with demographic data to evaluate the relative exposure reduction benefit across race and ethnicity. Carbon-free electricity would reduce national average ambient PM2.5 concentrations by 0.21 μg/m3, compared with a 0.19 μg/m3 reduction associated with carbon-free industrial activity, and a 0.08 μg/m3 reduction associated with carbon-free light duty vehicle (LDV) transportation. Decarbonization strategies also vary in terms of the racial groups most benefitting from each scenario, due to regional and urban/rural patterns in emission sources and population demographics. Black populations are the only group to experience relative exposure reduction benefits compared to the total population in every scenario, with industrial decarbonization yielding 23% greater reductions in ambient PM2.5 concentrations for Black populations than for the total U.S. population. The largest relative reduction in PM2.5 exposure was found for Asian populations in the carbon-free LDV transportation scenario (53%). The magnitudes of total air quality improvements by scenario vary across regions of the U.S., and generally do not align with the decarbonization policy that achieves the largest equity goal. Only the transportation decarbonization scenario meets the criteria of the Justice40 Initiative nationwide, fulfilling the 2021 commitment by U.S. President Biden that federal investments in clean energy are designed to allocate at least 40% of benefits to disadvantaged communities.
... There are also a variety of conceptual lenses through which academics analyze injustice, such as intersectionality (the idea that people have multiple identities, such as gender and race, that interact to affect people's experiences (Malin and Ryder, 2018)) and capabilities (justice should enable people to perform numerous capabilities, such as play and property ownership, that lead to a full life (Holland, 2008)). In this paper, we focus on the three dimensions of EJ that are frequently presented as core (see, e.g., Heffron and McCauley, 2017;Schlosberg, 2004;Urkidi and Walter, 2011;Walker, 2011;Williams and Doyon, 2019) and which are directly reflected in federal definitions of EJ (which guide NEPA decision-making): distributive, procedural, and recognition justice. ...
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Environmental justice, which seeks to achieve equity in the process and outcomes of environmental policy and decision-making, is a broadly recognized policy objective. As a foundational environmental regulation and opportunity for public engagement with federal decision-making, the United States' National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is frequently considered a promising venue for addressing environmental justice. While environmental justice has been a recognized consideration within the NEPA process since the 1990s, it is by no means a streamlined process. Understanding the barriers and opportunities to better incorporation of EJ principles in NEPA review processes is critical for understanding how to move from EJ as a concept to actual implementation. Drawing on interviews with federal agencies, project developers, nongovernmental organizations, and other organizations who contributed to NEPA reviews for projects across the US, this paper explores how environmental justice–specifically procedural, distributive, and recognition justice–is currently addressed in the preparation of Environmental Impact Statements and identifies barriers and opportunities for better inclusion. We find that many NEPA practitioners see NEPA as a valuable tool for achieving procedural and distributive justice. However, a number of institutional and organizational barriers exist, most prominently a structure that hinders opportunities for meaningful public engagement, ambiguity in how distributive justice is defined and implemented, and a lack of substantive requirements for potential distributional inequities to be addressed.
... These frameworks include justice as a key aspect, encompassing distributional aspects or the fair distribution of resources to all relational partners (equity), procedural aspects such as citizen participation and political processes, and interactional aspects related to recognition (Kotsila et al., 2020). Transition policies, including those designed to address climate challenges, at times breach justice principles (Sovacool et al., 2019;Williams and Doyon, 2019;Green and Gambhir, 2020). The assessment of four decarbonization policies performed by Sovacool et al. (2019) brought to light 28 injustices per policy on average (14 distributional injustices, 3 procedural injustices, 4 cosmopolitan injustices and 8 recognition injustices J o u r n a l P r e -p r o o f per policy). ...
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The circular economy (CE) model, where resources are kept "in the loop" for as long as possible through a series of reusing, remanufacturing, recycling, and recovery strategies, has been acclaimed for reducing the environmental impacts of our current economic model substantially and has therefore been supported by a wide range of policymakers as one solution to tackling climate change. However, how circular transitions in cities impact people has been rarely researched, and even less attention has been paid to the negative consequences of CE transitions. This paper presents the findings from a social impact assessment conducted in the city of Umeå, Sweden. We identified several negative impacts of a CE transition across seven social impact categories and explored three areas in depth with stakeholders in the city: employment, access to services and participation. We found that the negative impacts of the CE are perceived to be limited and that the CE interventions are mainly viewed as a win-win-win outcome, i.e., a win for the environment, the economy and people. This raises questions about the level to which societal consequences have been considered and whether all relevant stakeholders, in particular civil society, have participated in the design of the city's CE strategy. Our findings can inform other cities about possible negative consequences of CE transitions and provide insights into how to incorporate different stakeholders in the CE transition process to ensure that no one is left behind.
... Actually, literature on just food transition is gaining consistency influenced by three intertwined dimensions of justicedistributive, procedural and recognitiveall of them prominent in Fraser and Honneth's (2003) work, and more recently applied in just transition research, commonly joining environmental justice and energy transitions (Jenkins, Sovacool, and McCauley 2018;McCauley and Heffron 2018;Williams and Doyon 2019;Kaljonen et al. 2020). 3 Distributive justice refers to the equitable distribution of harms and benefits of the various activities in question. ...
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The article analyses the Brazilian soy value chains using a justice-based, multi-scale approach following the international debate on just transition to sustainable and healthy food systems in the context of climate change. It highlights the challenges and limits to promote just transitions based on dominant global value chains, while assessing private strategies as false solutions for sustainability and climate change. The multi-scale approach allows for linking global trends and private strategies to their intersections with local and national food systems. Systemic drivers of inequalities together with parameters for promoting food and environmental justices are the backdrop of the approach.
Chapter
Off-grid solar technologies, that is those solar energy technologies which function outside the centralized grid such as lanterns, pico-systems, solar home systems, micro- or mini-grids, are increasingly being used in Africa to help reduce the electricity access gap as well as deal with the limitations of the national grid. After over a decade of the growth of the off-grid solar sector in the continent, the time is ripe to take stock of the sector. This book does so by examining how political, economic, institutional, and social forces shape the adoption of off-grid solar technologies in Africa, including how injustices linked to off-grid solar electrification are manifested at different levels and spaces. Opening the edited volume, this chapter begins by giving context of energy access in the continent. This is followed by a conceptualization of energy justice, which draws on Western and non-Western perspectives. I then show how different chapters contribute to the purpose of this volume in three parts: history and politics of off-grid solar electrification, manifestations of energy injustices, and enabling uptake. Based on discussions in the various chapters, I position the book as one that contributes to the off-grid solar and energy justice scholarship in low-income non-western contexts.
Article
Critical effects of global climate change urgently call for socio-technical transitions towards more efficient, flexible and cleaner energy systems. However, adequate regulatory frameworks and policy incentives are lagging behind. This paper focuses on the governance dynamics shaping technology-enabled transitions towards distributed energy systems. The purpose of this review is to assess the potential role of blockchain technology in enhancing the governance of sociotechnical energy transitions. For this, the paper reviews: (1) the governance arrangements shaping distributed energy transitions, (2) the emergence of blockchain-based solutions in the energy sector (focusing on P2P energy trading platforms) and, (3) the role of the blockchain in overcoming the governance limitations of distributed energy transitions. The study addresses emerging but interrelated niches of academic study from an integral conceptualization and synthesis of the literature. Rather than extensively covering these fields of research, the purpose is to connect these areas of academic knowledge and expand the theoretical understanding stemming from this convergence. The findings show the potential of blockchain-based governance to overcome institutional barriers related to trust-building and enhanced coordination for community-based energy transitions.
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Off-grid solar photovoltaic technology, especially solar home systems, has been gaining popularity as a viable channel for tackling the problem of energy access in Africa. The upbeat and mobilizing narratives surrounding the use of this off-grid solar technology often obscures the multiple injustices which are noticeable in their inner workings. This chapter offers a critical review of the diverse injustices linked to the use of solar home systems in Africa. I highlight distributional, recognition and procedural injustices with regards to energy access. I equally show entanglement of key principles of Ubuntu with the adoption of solar home systems. Injustices and violations of Ubuntu principles are manifested at various levels and spaces, including within households. Injustices cannot be ignored, especially when claims about ‘just transition’ are evoked.
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Dominant agricultural and food systems lead to continuous resource depletion and unacceptable environmental and social impacts. While current calls for changing agrifood systems are increasingly framed in the context of sustainability transitions, they rarely make an explicit link to transition studies to address these systemic challenges, nor do transition scholars sufficiently address agri-food systems, despite their global pertinence. From this viewpoint, we illustrate several gaps in the agri-food systems debate that sustainability transition studies could engage in. We propose four avenues for research in the next decade of transition research on agri-food systems: 1) Crossscale dynamics between coupled systems; 2) Social justice, equity and inclusion; 3) Sustainability transitions in low- and middle-income countries; 4) Cross-sectoral governance and system integration. We call for a decade of new transition research that moves beyond single-scale and sector perspectives toward more inclusive and integrated analyses of food system dynamics.
Article
Just transition is gaining increasing attention. The need to consider social justice in sustainability transitions is finally being acknowledged. Research on this issue has, to date, mainly concentrated on energy systems. In this paper, we examine how the elaboration of dietary transition widens the spectrum of justice questions in sustainability transitions research. We explicate the arising normative questions along the dimensions of distributive, procedural and recognitive justice; widening the considerations further to restorative and cosmopolitan justice. Dietary transition widens the justice considerations to basic needs, food security and nutrition. By doing so, it evokes socio-cultural tensions that require recognition and procedural solutions. The uneven distribution of capacities to innovate and adapt require scrutiny from the just transition scholarship. Likewise, the recognition of non-human animals and integrity of agro-ecological systems. The relational three-dimensional understanding of justice can advance inter- and transdisciplinary research across various systems.
Article
The Indian government advocates for a major shift from national reliance on coal to more renewable energy sources. While these aspirations are laudable, a political ecology review reveals the uneven power relations associated with the introduction of renewable energy in the southern Indian state of Kerala. Drawing from fieldwork, research traces how Kerala government solar projects, including schemes to promote rooftop solar, prioritize middle- and upper-class consumers. Historically marginalized communities, including people living below the poverty level and Adivasis (indigenous peoples), are not a priority for the state agency implementing renewable energy and thus are not beneficiaries of cleaner energy. This disconnected approach builds from and exacerbates historical political and resource inequalities and enables the persistence of social and environmental injustices, even while moving towards a lower-carbon future. This model does not allow for all residents to actively engage in decision-making about energy processes and proves to be a missed opportunity to think holistically about development and energy in tandem. Energy democracy provides ideas to disturb this uneven power structure, with cooperatives being one possible way to implement this change. As the case of Kerala underscores, India may undergo an energy transition, but it will not be a just energy transition without significant changes.
Article
The growing attention paid to the idea of a just transition away from the incumbent fossil fuel energy paradigm has led scholars to devise diverse definitions, understandings, and viewpoints of the term. This review seeks to clarify the different perspectives surrounding the concept, to consolidate knowledge, and to provide a concise account of current debates in the literature as well as a research agenda. It identifies five themes around which the concept has been discussed: (1) just transition as a labor-oriented concept, (2) just transition as an integrated framework for justice, (3) just transition as a theory of socio-technical transition, (4) just transition as a governance strategy, and (5) just transition as public perception. Overall, this review suggests that the literature on just transition employs rich theoretical and empirical insights from various disciplines yet contains several gaps. Specifically, it argues that the literature would benefit from more empirical studies rooted in practice, more discussion on the relationship between different concepts of just transition, an expansion of geographical scope to include developing countries and non-democratic regimes, and more attention to power dynamics in just transition.
Article
This study examines how renewable energy policies in Vermont address energy vulnerability and energy justice. Using an anti-resilience framework, and drawing on 569 surveys and 18 interviews statewide, our results demonstrate higher energy vulnerability—lack of access to sufficient and affordable energy—among respondents who are low-income, non-white, and renters. Low-income and renter respondents were over three times more likely, and non-white respondents were seven times more likely, to report going without heat. While Vermont is regarded as a renewable energy leader, its current policies do not equitably distribute household transition benefits (HTBs) to address vulnerability. Our results show that non-white respondents were seven times less likely than white respondents to report having solar panels and renters were three times less likely than homeowners to report having solar panels. Interviews also reveal HTBs are available mostly to high-income households. We argue that these disparities may result from structural discrimination and policies that distribute HTBs to households with disposable income and property rights. The unequal distribution of this ‘investment capital’ prevents widespread access for non-white, low-income, and renting households. Following an anti-resilience framework, we propose alternative policy frameworks that center justice within energy transition policy making.
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Ocean renewable energy, focusing on offshore wind, wave and tidal, is an emerging global sector that is making a growing contribution to the decarbonization of power production. As the challenge to produce greener and decarbonized forms of electricity gather pace, the chapter explores the role offshore wind, wave and tidal as a rapidly developing sector in the context of policy and societal considerations. The policy aspects are explored through the lens of the blue economy as an overarching governance mechanism and the main instrument to implement it, marine spatial planning. The societal elements of ORE are explored via the lens of the just transition, a concept that is gaining policy traction as a defining principle of the energy and climate transition. The unique oceanic and coastal nature of offshore wind, wave and tidal is unpacked in the context of a just transition, with a synopsis of the performance these sectors in providing employment and the role of revitalizing coastal communities. A European and a UK focus is taken in the chapter from the view of a rapidly growing and increasingly important energy sub-sector.
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This chapter compares and contrasts the various case studies examined in this book, and the exercise brings to the fore similarities and differences with regard to transmission mechanisms for off-grid solar electrification policy and application of energy justice theorizing. The final segment of the chapter reflects on the renewable energy sector, with a particular focus on off-grid solar electrification. It critically interrogates the notion that the ascendance of off-grid solar electrification in Africa is ‘transformative’. It argues that Africa’s renewable energy economies are integrated into the global renewable energy economy in a manner that reproduces structural dependence, rather than fostering structural transformation. It brings to the fore multiple forms of dispossessions which are often overlooked in the renewable energy literature.
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Integrated community energy systems (ICESs) are a good representative of local energy systems by integrating local distributed energy resources and local communities. It is proposed that costs should be allocated in a socially acceptable manner since there is no regulation in ICESs. In this paper, social acceptance is conceptualized from the dimension of community acceptance considering procedural and distributive justice. A fair process increases the understanding and the acceptance of the cost allocation outcomes, and a fair outcome leads to the acceptance of the cost allocation procedure. This approach adopted the multi-criteria decision-making technique to evaluate social acceptance to select a cost allocation method that was socially acceptable to local community members. The results show that our approach is unique and useful when multiple decision-making groups have to decide together upon the cost allocation method. It is able to provide quantitative results and optimal decisions from a multi-group decision-making perspective. The methodology developed in this research can be applied to any local community energy system to select a cost allocation method. Furthermore, the obtained results can be used by decision-makers to support them in the decision-making process. Based on our approach, policy implications are also analyzed to support the success of cost allocation in ICESs.
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Pillar four recognizes that the social dimension is instrumentally important for successful low carbon, sustainability transitions. The social dimension is central to the development of the institutional, community and governance models needed to address our most intractable challenges. Broad and deep social networks are necessary for the successful societal support for deep infrastructure changes. Empowering communities and involving them in decision-making through genuine participatory models can result in policy and planning decisions that are more likely to be acceptable as well as more effective in the long-term. Justice concepts, as guiding principles of policy development, can allow diverse perspectives in decision-making processes, enabling wider reasoning on what is considered legitimate as well as providing a means to inform ethical actions.KeywordsSocial dimensionEmpoweringCommunitiesParticipatory modelsJusticeEthical
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This chapter discusses a number of themes that cut across all 5 pillars, including: Integrated responses to the climate crisis are required so that transitions initiatives acknowledge both the global imperative for emissions reduction /mitigation together with regional and local imperatives for adaptation; Justice should be considered as a core instrument and driver, rather than aspirational end-point, of sustainability transition. Justice need not be simply an ideal of sustainable economies, emerging at some unknown point into the future, but rather a means or process through which sustainable economies can be realized in actuality; a capabilities approach to climate justice can better frame impacts of adaptation and mitigation actions, while acknowledging socio-spatial differentiation and vulnerabilities; fundamental geographical concepts such as scale and connection, governance and power relations, proximity and distance and space and place are fundamental to understanding processes of transition, vulnerability and resilience building.KeywordsTransitionsJusticeCapabilitiesSocio-spatial differentiationVulnerabilitiesResilience
Book
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Local communities are increasingly taking on active roles and emerging as new actors in energy systems. Community energy and energy storage may enable effective energy system integration and ensure maximum benefits of local generation, leading to more flexible and resilient energy supply systems and playing an important role in achieving renewable energy and climate policy objectives. In this book, we summarize the different topics covered in the international conference on new pathways for community energy and storage in the form of the 14 articles published in this Special Issue on the same topic. It addresses important developments and challenges related to local energy transitions and the role of community energy and energy storage therein.
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The bioeconomy has been portrayed as a transformational change to replace fossil-based fuels and other goods such as plastics. It is to substitute those goods while promoting zero-waste circular economies, creating jobs, and valorizing biodiversity – an agenda that meets conservation, climate and socioeconomic goals. Yet, where and from whom such bioresources are to come are questions that often receive insufficient scrutiny. Starting from an understanding that equity and sustainability essentially depend on how and on whose terms bio-based production takes place, this article explores the social dimensions of bioeconomy promotion through a “just transition” lens. Using the experiences of Brazil, India and Indonesia as case studies, it examines their dominant bio-based production systems in terms of distributional, procedural, retributive, and restorative justice. The analysis shows that, while such a bio-based transition has been a boon for agribusiness, the bioeconomy has so far helped promote broadly unjust production systems – where benefits and burdens are unevenly distributed, procedural governance over landscapes and resource use tends to be exclusionary, and there is little accountability or redress for past and present damages inflicted upon traditional communities and local populations. This pattern highly contrasts with the bioeconomy's lip service to socioeconomic betterment and rural livelihood support. Instead, this examination shows bio-based sectors are expanding on many injustices while creating new ones. The conclusion is that, alongside fossil fuel substitution, a just bioeconomy transition also requires sustainable farming and land use – as two transitions in one. Therefore, asking where bio-based goods are produced, how, and by whom is essential.
Article
Cities are considered key sites where innovation can be nurtured to drive sustainability transitions. While existing studies recognise that transitions occur unevenly across space and time, predominant theories of change offer limited understanding of the geographical conditions shaping whether and how low-carbon innovations are scaled. As sustainability practitioners and advocates increase calls for localising climate investment, this paper argues that common processes and practices constituting financial systems reveal the structuring role of contemporary capitalist finance on the forms and qualities of sustainability transitions in urban built environments. Through an extensive review, the paper highlights (1) temporal boundaries associated with speculative measures of risk and return, (2) multiscalar relations of asset ownership and services provision, and (3) uneven spatial distribution of investment. Acknowledging the socially regressive implications of orthodox financial thresholds, the paper considers the prospects for transformative financial innovation driven by social and place-based value propositions to meet environmental goals.
Article
Taiwan launched an energy transition agenda to pursue a nuclear-free homeland by 2025 after the anti-nuclear party won the 2016 presidential and parliament elections. In 2016, the 2025 electricity mix target was set to 50% gas-fired power, 30% coal-fired power, and 20% renewable electricity (RE), and thus, no nuclear power. Despite many efforts, the electricity mix remained far from these targets at the end of 2020: coal-fired power, 43.5%; gas-fired power, 38%; RE, 7.1%; and nuclear power, 8.5%. This study evaluates the possibility of achieving the 2025 targets and the barriers to reaching each target. It also uses the concept of a ‘just’ energy transition to assess whether this vision meets the related criteria and why.
Article
Environmental and political debate concerning the role of agriculture in sustainability has long been on the agenda. However, owing to climate change, an analysis of the transition to a low-carbon society must also be considered from the perspective of justice. Dairy farming, in particular, faces pressure in this context, when contemplating changing consumer behaviors and reduction in the carbon footprint of dairy products. Accordingly, many dairy farmers are struggling with the profitability and high production costs of farming. This study examines the experiences and perceptions of dairy farmers in Finland. The theoretical background is predicated upon the “just transition” literature. Additionally, recent literature regarding farmers' attitudes and agency, related to climate and environmental change, is utilized. A collaborative, empirical study of the Finnish dairy co-op Valio Ltd.‘s carbon-neutral milk chain program was conducted. The authors interviewed 18 dairy farmers and examined their motivations and barriers to carbon-neutral practices. Their experiences and perceptions of justice, in the context of a carbon-neutral milk chain, were studied. This study elucidates how to shift to carbon-neutral agriculture in such a way that dairy farmers perceive this systemic change as justified and acceptable. The results indicate that from the farmers' perspective, three key justice issues need consideration: 1) profitability of farming, 2) blaming of farmers, and 3) use of agricultural peatlands.
Article
“Green deals” to promote socially inclusive decarbonisation have captured the imagination of public intellectuals and advocates across the political spectrum. Such programmes are often premised upon the concept of “just transitions”, which aims to reconcile environmental and social concerns in the movement towards a low‐carbon future. I respond to some of the underlying tensions that underpin dominant discourses in this domain by foregrounding collective, disruptive, and non‐capitalist forms of infrastructural transformation in the energy domain. I discuss possibilities for a more egalitarian politics and shared environmental commons in the articulation of residential energy efficiency and housing upgrades with the aid of insights from the political ecology literature, and examples from activist praxis across Europe and North America. More broadly, I highlight how well‐known contradictions of labour, environmental sustainability, and economic transformation are complicated by encounters with climate and energy circulations.
Article
This study analyzes the role of civil society in China's clean energy transition from the perspective of Confucianism, an influential political-ethical doctrine with over 2000 years of history. An environmental non-governmental organization (ENGO), Friends of Nature (FON), was taken as a case study. FON is a pioneering ENGO in China and has become an influential actor in low-carbon energy transition in the country, primarily through its environmental litigation on energy projects. We argue that FON's legal actions, which focus on the climate and sustainability aspect of energy, are embedded in a Confucian understanding of justice, that is, justice as the pursuit of collective interest rather than the fair treatment of individuals; justice as nature-humanity harmony and the conservation of natural resources for future generation; and justice as an important manifestation of Confucian self-cultivation and a political obligation. This study contributes to the broader energy justice literature by proposing an understanding that goes beyond its Western origin.
Article
Over the past several years, numerous actors across Australian society have increasingly advocated ‘just transition’ policies to help coal communities move beyond their reliance on fossil fuel extraction. As part of this, individuals from the environmental movement, trade unions, various NGOs and the private sector have called for a range of initiatives designed to help maintain the social and economic integrity of these regions as coal inevitably declines. Yet while just transition ideas have grown in popularity in these numerous forums in Australian society, it remains unclear how they are being understood by the very workers and communities for whom they are being proposed. To shed light on this question, we conducted interviews with residents of coal communities throughout Eastern Australia. We found that respondents had several key anxieties about just transition ideas and their impacts on their lives. In this paper, we break our findings down into five main themes that help explain these anxieties.
Book
This book evaluates off-grid solar electrification in Africa by examining how political, economic, institutional, and social forces shape the adoption of off-grid solar technologies, including how energy injustices are manifested at different levels and spaces. The book takes a historical, contemporary, and projective outlook using case studies from pre- and ongoing electrification communities in non-Western countries such as Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Senegal, Malawi, Tanzania, and Nigeria. Beyond the diverse nature of these countries in terms of their geographical location in West, East, and Southern Africa, each offers a different experience in terms of colonial history, economic and institutional infrastructure, social and cultural context, and level of adoption of off-grid solar technologies. Notably, the book contributes to the off-grid solar and energy justice scholarship in low-income non-Western contexts. It examines various approaches to energy justice and does so by engaging with Western and non-Western philosophical notions of the concept. It takes into consideration the major principles of Ubuntu philosophy with the adoption of off-grid solar technologies, hence enriching the energy justice framework. The book interrogates the degree to which the social mission that catalysed the expansion of the off-grid solar sector is being undermined by broader structural dynamics of the capital investment upon which it is reliant. It also argues that the ascendance of off-grid solar electrification in Africa is transformative in that it enables millions of people without access to or facing uncertainties linked to centralised grid energy to have access to basic energy services.
Article
Energy and Environmental Justice is a well-researched subject. Research points to close interactions among energy, economy, sustainability, and policy aspects that lead to several policy issues of energy governance and environmental justice. Renewable energy promotion and the transition to a low carbon economy in all nations necessitate the integration of the complex nature of energy governance and environmental justice issues and their interactions. For the integration, we present a Morphological Analysis framework consisting of 6 dimensions and 25 variants that can be effectively used by policymakers in different nations to guide their transition to a low carbon economy via renewable energy. Presently, we can observe that environmental justice is largely restricted to justice literature. However, a holistic study of environmental justice requires among others a renewed research focus on new energy governance issues arising out of the concern to ensure justice globally all along by deploying renewable energy systems for the “just” transition to low carbon sources. We also highlight immediate research opportunities arising from the integration.
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This article conceptualizes power in the context of long-term process of structural change. First, it discusses the field of transition studies, which deals with processes of structural change in societal systems on the basis of certain presumptions about power relations, but still lacks an explicit conceptualization of power. Then the article discusses some prevailing points of contestation in debates on power. It is argued that for the context of transition studies, it is necessary to develop an interdisciplinary framework in which power is explicitly conceptualized in relation to change. Subsequently, such a framework is presented, with reference to existing literature on power. Starting with a philosophical and operational definition of power, a typology is developed of the different ways in which power can be exercised, explicitly including innovative power and transformative power. Finally, the presented power framework is applied to transition studies, redefining pivotal transition concepts in terms of power and formulating hypotheses on the role of power in transitions. By doing so, the article not only offers an interdisciplinary framework to study power in the context of transition studies, but also contributes to power debates more generally by including innovation and transformation as acts of power, and thereby proposes a re-conceptualization of the relation between power and structural change.
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Over the past few decades, there has been a growing concern about the social and environmental risks which have come along with the progress achieved through a variety of mutually intertwined modernization processes. In recent years these concerns are transformed into a widely-shared sense of urgency, partly due to events such as the various pandemics threatening livestock, and increasing awareness of the risks and realities of climate change, and the energy and food crises. This sense of urgency includes an awareness that our entire social system is in need of fundamental transformation. But like the earlier transition between the 1750's and 1890's from a pre-modern to a modern industrial society, this second transition is also a contested one. Sustainable development is only one of many options. This book addresses the issue on how to understand the dynamics and governance of the second transition dynamics in order to ensure sustainable development. It will be necessary reading for students and scholars with an interest in sustainable development and long-term transformative change.
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Although recent scholarship has contributed to our understanding of sustainability transitions, more needs to be done to grasp the politics of these processes. What works and what does not work is being sorted out in the world of practical politics. But social science could contribute by drawing lessons from political experience and offering theoretical insights.
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Environmental justice is often defined in terms of the distribution (or maldistribution) of environmental goods and bads. Activists and scholars have also focused on issues of cultural recognition and political participation. This article posits a capabilities-based conception of environmental justice. We argue that environmental challenges raised by indigenous communities demonstrate a broad, complex conception of environmental justice focused on a range of capabilities and basic functionings, at both the individual and community levels. We begin with a theoretical justification for a capabilities-based approach to understanding environmental justice. We then offer two in-depth case studies from the US and Chile, to illustrate our argument that indigenous environmental justice struggles clearly articulate themes of community capabilities and functioning, highlighting the importance of social and cultural reproduction. (c) 2010 by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
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This article is concerned with governance of long term socio-technical transitions required to orient development trajectories of advanced industrial counties along more sustainable lines. It discusses the contribution that ‘transition management’ can make to such processes, emphasizes the irreducibly political character of governance for sustainable development, and suggests that the long-term transformation of energy systems will prove to be a messy, conflictual, and highly disjointed process.
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This article confirms the usefulness of the trivalent energy justice approach in analyzing the case of the Chippewas First Nation, a Canadian Indigenous group opposing a pipeline expansion application before the National Energy Board, later appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada. Consideration of the unique socio-economic and cultural place of the Chippewas, their arguments in the pipeline approval case, and the court's ultimate determination, all provide a rich context to explore what the Chippewas’ consider recognition justice and how it intersects with distributive and procedural justice. Procedural justice innovations in Canada include the Constitutional recognition of Aboriginal rights and the duty to consult Aboriginal peoples. In the Chippewas’ case, these added procedures did not advance their case against pipeline expansion and inequitable distribution of environmental harms. In this Canadian Aboriginal case, recognition justice stands out from procedural and distributive justice; this case illustrates the inadequacy of procedural protections for Aboriginal peoples to advance the recognition of their unique position in the energy supply chain. To attain recognition justice, the procedural justice to attain it, and distributive justice granting protection from ‘energy sacrificial zones’ is required.
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Recent socio-political events - such as Brexit - have provoked discussion and uncertainties about the future of the European Union, including European sustainable energy transitions. Nevertheless, not much research in the energy and social science domain has discussed and empirically explored how these socio-political events and related processes - rise in right-wing populism, post-truth politics - are shaped by and impact public beliefs about energy issues and the role of changes in people's different-level identities (local, national, European). In this paper, we discuss the importance of further exploring these ideas in energy social science research. We examine results of the Eurobarometer survey in the time span 2007–2016, and of two different representative surveys of United Kingdom adults, conducted in 2007 and 2012. This data allowed us to explore similarities and differences during this period regarding attitudes and beliefs about high voltage power lines and other energy and climate change related issues at different levels, and associated identities. Results suggest that feelings of belonging to different imaginary communities play out socio-political and psychological intergroup relations. We conclude that the ways that these impact on people's responses regarding energy issues at local, national and European levels represent promising directions for future research.
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Renewable energy has emerged as one of the predominant means for addressing global climate change, as well as a remedy for energy workers and communities displaced by declining fossil fuels industries. However, little is known about how individuals living and working in fossil fuels-dependent communities perceive renewable energy and the low-carbon transition. To investigate this, semi-structured interviews were conducted with forty-five community representatives in 2016 in two energy-dependent areas in the state of Utah − one dependent on coal mining and electricity generation and one dependent on oil and natural gas extraction. Findings indicate that representatives overall had negative views of renewable energy development, driven mainly by the perceived threat to the existing local economy, the feeling that renewable energy was incongruent with local identity, and anger about policy incentives favoring renewables. These findings suggest that even though renewable energy development may offer an economic boost to declining fossil fuels-based communities, it may still be rejected in these places. The article concludes by weighing the implications of these findings under the ‘just transitions’ framework, which argues that the clean energy transition must address the plight of individuals and communities hit hardest by the shift away from fossil fuels.
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‘Transition’ and ‘transformation’ have become buzzwords in political and scientific discourses. They signal the need for large-scale changes to achieve a sustainable society. We compare how they are applied and interpreted in scientific literatures to explore whether they are distinct concepts and provide complementary insights. Transition and transformation are not mutually exclusive; they provide nuanced perspectives on how to describe, interpret and support desirable radical and non-linear societal change. Their differences may partially result from their etymological origins, but they largely stem from the different research communities concerned with either transition or transformation. Our review shows how the respective approaches and perspectives on understanding and interpreting system change can enrich each other.
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Persistent mismatches between problems, policy framings, and solutions point to unsettled ethical conundrums in the ways that the energy transition is being imagined at the centers of global power. First, development is too often seen as the means to achieve more sustainable futures, even though experience points to complex and uncertain relationships between prosperity and sustainability. Second, while technological change is seen as essential to the transition, less attention is paid to the fact that disparities within societies demand differentiated solutions. Third, there are few principles in place for how to effect an energy transition with due attention to social justice in an unequal world. This article reflects on all three points.
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The ‘just transition’ is a concept receiving more attention in the literature to-date. This critical review discusses this and how there are overlaps with literature on energy, environmental and climate justice. Within the separate energy, environment and climate change scholar communities, there is too much distortion of what the ‘transition’ means and what ‘justice’ means, and they all should be understood within the just transition concept. To increase public understanding and public acceptance of a just transition, these research communities need to unite rather than continue alone.
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This article explores how concepts from justice and ethics can inform energy decision-making and highlight the moral and equity dimensions of energy production and use. It defines “energy justice” as a global energy system that fairly distributes both the benefits and burdens of energy services, and one that contributes to more representative and inclusive energy decision-making. The primary contribution of the article is its focus on six new frontiers of future energy justice research. First is making the case for the involvement of non-Western justice theorists. Second is expanding beyond humans to look at the Rights of Nature or non-anthropocentric notions of justice. Third is focusing on cross-scalar issues of justice such as embodied emissions. Fourth is identifying business models and the co-benefits of justice. Fifth is better understanding the tradeoffs within energy justice principles. Sixth is exposing unjust discourses. In doing so, the article presents an agenda constituted by 30 research questions as well as an amended conceptual framework consisting of ten principles. The article argues in favor of “justice-aware” energy planning and policymaking, and it hopes that its (reconsidered) energy justice conceptual framework offers a critical tool to inform decision-making.
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The editorial piece for the Energy Justice virtual special issue in Energy Policy. So far the rapid development of the energy justice concept has been dominated by geographical and sociological approaches, and the concept is only starting to emerge in legal and policy literature. As an introduction to the papers in the special issue, this paper suggests five challenges that both academics and practitioners must reflect upon as we: (1) use concepts from ethics, morality and justice to think about energy dilemmas, and (2) continue to develop, and increasingly implement energy justice concepts in the policy sector.
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Just sustainabilities has emerged as a powerful discourse to guide local action towards sustainability. As an overarching discourse, it prescribes four policy principles: (1) addressing well-being and quality of life; (2) meeting the needs of present and future generations; (3) enabling justice and equity in terms of recognition, process, procedure, and outcome; and (4) living within ecosystem limits. Following previous calls for engaging public and private actors in just sustainabilities, this paper inquiries about the extent to which these principles can be realistically integrated in local environmental governance. A database of 400 sustainability initiatives in more than 200 cities in all world regions is analysed to examine whether just sustainabilities principles are already enshrined, explicitly or implicitly, in local sustainability initiatives. This analysis suggests that, in this sample, there is a significant deficit in terms of addressing the principles of justice and equity, and ecosystem limits. However, the data also suggest that local action may already be delivering some aspects of just sustainabilities, even if this is not always explicit. The paper concludes with a call for a coordinated effort to translate a just sustainabilities discourse to local actors leading action on the ground.
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Low-carbon transitions are long-term multi-faceted processes. Although integrated assessment models have many strengths for analysing such transitions, their mathematical representation requires a simplification of the causes, dynamics and scope of such societal transformations. We suggest that integrated assessment model-based analysis should be complemented with insights from socio-technical transition analysis and practice-based action research. We discuss the underlying assumptions, strengths and weaknesses of these three analytical approaches. We argue that full integration of these approaches is not feasible, because of foundational differences in philosophies of science and ontological assumptions. Instead, we suggest that bridging, based on sequential and interactive articulation of different approaches, may generate a more comprehensive and useful chain of assessments to support policy formation and action. We also show how these approaches address knowledge needs of different policymakers (international, national and local), relate to different dimensions of policy processes and speak to different policy-relevant criteria such as cost-effectiveness, socio-political feasibility, social acceptance and legitimacy, and flexibility. A more differentiated set of analytical approaches thus enables a more differentiated approach to climate policy making.
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Over the past forty years, recognition has become the dominant mode of negotiation and decolonization between the nation-state and Indigenous nations in North America. The term “recognition” shapes debates over Indigenous cultural distinctiveness, Indigenous rights to land and self-government, and Indigenous peoples’ right to benefit from the development of their lands and resources. In a work of critically engaged political theory, Glen Sean Coulthard challenges recognition as a method of organizing difference and identity in liberal politics, questioning the assumption that contemporary difference and past histories of destructive colonialism between the state and Indigenous peoples can be reconciled through a process of acknowledgment. Beyond this, Coulthard examines an alternative politics—one that seeks to revalue, reconstruct, and redeploy Indigenous cultural practices based on self-recognition rather than on seeking appreciation from the very agents of colonialism. Coulthard demonstrates how a “place-based” modification of Karl Marx’s theory of “primitive accumulation” throws light on Indigenous–state relations in settler-colonial contexts and how Frantz Fanon’s critique of colonial recognition shows that this relationship reproduces itself over time. This framework strengthens his exploration of the ways that the politics of recognition has come to serve the interests of settler-colonial power. In addressing the core tenets of Indigenous resistance movements, like Red Power and Idle No More, Coulthard offers fresh insights into the politics of active decolonization. © 2014 by the Regents of the University of Minnesota. All rights reserved.
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Concepts of justice are now routinely mobilised in environmental and climate change activism, with movements for environmental and climate justice emerging around the world. More recently, the concept of energy justice has gained prominence, most frequently framed in terms of access to affordable energy and fuel poverty but also related to the politics of energy infrastructures. To date however, there has been little critical interrogation of energy justice in relation to actions undertaken by activist and advocacy movements. In this paper, we set out an analysis of the concept of 'energy justice' from the perspective of framing. Drawing on research with organisations in Philadelphia, Paris and Berlin, the paper explores the articulation and elaboration of an energy justice frame. In so doing, it explores how such actors strategically frame their interpretation of energy justice, considers the overall emergence of an energy justice frame, and draws out an agenda for future research.
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Transition researchers recognize increasingly the need to better address the role that spatial and geographical factors play in guiding the evolution of socio-technical and technological innovation systems. At the same time, some geographers are being drawn to transition studies as they strive to better understand the development trajectories of cities, industries, production networks, and economies. Building off these convergences, this paper proposes two interventions through which geographical ideas might further contribute to transitions research. The first focuses on conceptualizations of the socio-spatial dynamics through which TIS or niche contexts are coupled or aligned effectively with socio-technical regimes such that regime shifts become possible. The second brings the concept of place-making to bear on transition studies in order to analyze the political processes that shape the evolution of socio-technical systems. The paper closes with general arguments about ways to expand and diversify the geography-of-sustainability-transitions epistemic community.
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While most studies of low-carbon transitions focus on green niche-innovations, this paper shifts attention to the resistance by incumbent regime actors to fundamental change. Drawing on insights from political economy, the paper introduces politics and power into the multi-level perspective. Instrumental, discursive, material and institutional forms of power and resistance are distinguished and illustrated with examples from the UK electricity system. The paper concludes that the resistance and resilience of coal, gas and nuclear production regimes currently negates the benefits from increasing renewables deployment. It further suggests that policymakers and many transition-scholars have too high hopes that green' innovation will be sufficient to bring about low-carbon transitions. Future agendas in research and policy should therefore pay much more attention to the destabilization and decline of existing fossil fuel regimes.
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It is widely acknowledged that low-income and minority communities in liberal democratic societies suffer a disproportionate burden of environmental hazards. Is "environmental injustice" a necessary feature of liberal societies or is its prevalence due to the failure of existing liberal democracies to live up to liberal principles of justice? One leading version of liberalism, John Rawls' "justice as fairness," can be "extended" to accommodate the concerns expressed by advocates of environmental justice. Moreover, Rawlsian environmental justice has some significant advantages over existing conceptions of environmental justice.
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This progress report considers the need for developing a critical body of research on deliberate transformation as a response to global environmental change. Although there is a rapidly growing literature on adaptation to environmental change, including both incremental and transformational adaptation, this often focuses on accommodating change, rather than contesting it and creating alternatives. Given increasing calls from scientists and activists for transformative actions to avoid dangerous changes in the earth system, and the likelihood that ‘urgent’ solutions will be imposed by various interests, many new and important questions are emerging about individual and collective capacities to deliberately transform systems and structures in a manner that is both ethical and sustainable. This presents a transformative challenge to global change science itself that calls for new approaches to transdisciplinary research.
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Sustainability is increasingly becoming a core focus of geography, linking subfields such as urban, economic, and political ecology, yet strategies for achieving this goal remain illusive. Socio-technical transition theorists have made important contributions to our knowledge of the challenges and possibilities for achieving more sustainable societies, but this body of work generally lacks consideration of the influences of geography and power relations as forces shaping sustainability initiatives in practice. This paper assesses the significance for geographers interested in understanding the space, time, and scalar characteristics of sustainable development of one major strand of socio-technical transition theory, the multi-level perspective on socio-technical regime transitions. We describe the socio-technical transition approach, identify four major limitations facing it, show how insights from geographers – particularly political ecologists – can help address these challenges, and briefly examine a case study (GMO and food production) showing how a refined transition framework can improve our understanding of the social, political, and spatial dynamics that shape the prospects for more just and environmentally sustainable forms of development.
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Sustainability oriented innovation and technology studies have received increasing attention over the past 10-15 years. In particular, a new field dealing with "sustainability transitions" has gained ground and reached an output of 60-100 academi