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Introduction: The Genealogy and Contemporary Politics of Just Transitions

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In the field of 'climate change', no terrain goes uncontested. The terminological tug of war between activists and corporations, scientists and governments, has seen radical notions of 'sustainability' emptied of urgency and subordinated to the interests of capital. 'Just Transition' is the latest such battleground, and the conceptual keystone of the post-COP21 climate policy world. But what does it really mean? Just Transition emerged as a framework developed within the trade union movement to encompass a range of social interventions needed to secure workers' and frontline communities' jobs and livelihoods as economies shift to sustainable production. Just Transitions draws on a range of perspectives from the global North and South to interrogate the overlaps, synergies and tensions between various understandings of the Just Transition approach. As the concept is entering the mainstream, has it lost its radical edge, and if so, can it be recovered? Written by academics and activists from around the globe, this unique edited collection is the first book entirely devoted to Just Transition.

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... In 2015, the concept known as 'just transition' was integrated into the preamble of the Paris United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC, 2015, p. 21), signalling, at a minimum, that a transition based on justice principles had permeated key international institutions. Although there are competing interpretations of just transition (Goods, 2013;Snell, 2018), it is broadly understood as centered around the principles of redistribution, recognition and participation (Morena et al., 2020;Stevis & Felli, 2015). However, building on the critiques of Velicu and Kaika (2017) and Arboleda (2017), existing conceptual approaches to just transition assume that what is 'just' in the transition is largely an immutable, preconceived object. ...
... The idea of just transition, if not the term, first emerged in the 1970s in the United States, and gained wider traction within organized labor in the late '90s, when several US unions adopted the concept (for a detailed discussion, see Morena et al., 2020). Since this time, just transition has received strong, but variegated, support across the union movement (Felli, 2014). ...
... The 'common sense' domination of corporations and management and inversely the broad demise of worker power, particularly through unions, also reflects a fundamental weakness with just transition. Proponents of just transition generally assume there is a significant capacity for both workers and unions to leverage power to bring about just transition across the global political economy; evidence for this is highly limited (Morena et al., 2020). While Mildenberger (2020) suggest this is because organized labor often works against the politics of climate action, it also reflects the diminished role and power resources of organized labor across various political economic spaces. ...
Article
As the consequences of a warming world intensify and actions to mitigate climate change remain persistently slow, demands for a more radical political economic transition focused on climate and justice have grown. ‘Just transition’ is one such counter-hegemony that has gained wide appeal within the field and practice of international political economy. Through document analysis and interviews with industry associations in Australia, this article seeks to demonstrate the pliability of just transition, a plasticity that allows incumbent business interests to ‘remake’ what is just within a just transition. Underpinning this analysis is a novel theoretical framework based on ‘justification of worth’, which shows that fossil capital seeks to outmaneuver calls for just transition by discursively re-aligning justice with the ‘common good’ of fossil capital hegemony. The article therefore assists scholars of international political economy to understand the discursive strategies through which powerful incumbent actors endeavor to maintain fossil capital hegemony in response to justice focused counter-hegemonies.
... This situation is now rapidly changing, and there were in any case always important exceptions, most notably Nora Räthzel and David Uzzell (2013a). Most recently, these authors, together with Dimitris Stevis (Steve at al., 2018), edited a special issue of Globalizations on 'The Labour-Nature Relationship' and the book Just Transitions (Morena et al., 2019) was published. ...
... Following the Paris COP and the activation of 'just transition', the door was opened for a broader and more strategic role for labour and trade unions as well as for union-to-union climate bargaining and the establishment of joint union-employer environment committees. As evident in this special issue, the notion of 'just transition' itself has, however, been variously interpreted, including how far it embraces worker agency and direct participation and to what extent the green transition vision is centred on transforming political and economic power structures (Stevis and Felli, 2015), with further myriad adaptations emerging in implementation on the ground (Morena et al., 2019). The impact of labour engagement on the struggle to slow climate change is also bringing unions into new realms of influence, though this new-found clout varies from sector to sector and country to country. ...
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Within the context of an accelerating climate emergency, the introduction frames the strategies and actions adopted by labour and unions to reduce carbon emissions that are presented in the articles contributing to this special issue. Industrial relations scholarship, which has been slow to address the climate emergency, has focussed on the jobs versus environment dilemma, the role of unions, technical innovation versus social unionism, and just transition approaches. While labour and union approaches in different sectors across Europe are largely confined to variants of ecological modernization, a more proactive transformative strategy opening up an alternative eco-socialist vision for the future is emerging. The issue highlights the contradictions in union strategies, the drivers of change and the way forward in pursuance of a green economy through a focus on the roles of government and the public sector, the organization of labour and the labour process, and education and training.
... 'Just transition' research and discourse has its origins in two directions. It was initially introduced in policy discourse by the trade union movements in the 1970s as a call for reconciling the environmental and social concerns in the industry and creating environmentally safe jobs (Morena et al., 2020). The discourse only broadened quite recently, in the 2000s, to consider the impacts of climate action on worker communities and employment (Rosemberg, 2010;Stevis and Felli, 2015;Morena et al., 2020), and then went beyond labour issues. ...
... It was initially introduced in policy discourse by the trade union movements in the 1970s as a call for reconciling the environmental and social concerns in the industry and creating environmentally safe jobs (Morena et al., 2020). The discourse only broadened quite recently, in the 2000s, to consider the impacts of climate action on worker communities and employment (Rosemberg, 2010;Stevis and Felli, 2015;Morena et al., 2020), and then went beyond labour issues. The interest in just transition is also increasing rapidly due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic that has aggravated many inequalities. ...
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In this article, we address the social vulnerability of people to climate mitigation policies and contribute to assessing the social impacts of climate policies by introducing a matrix tool for conducting vulnerability assessments and participatory climate policy planning. The matrix serves as a methodological tool for identifying social groups in their social spaces. First, we lay the foundation for the matrix by linking social vulnerability to equality and justice, demonstrating the importance of addressing social vulnerability in climate policy design and research. Next, we introduce the ways in which social vulnerability has been addressed in the integration of social and climate policy dimensions in the Nordic welfare states that also serve as the test bed for our contribution. We then establish a methodological tool for assessing and discussing social vulnerability to climate policies, especially with relation to policy impacts on equal opportunities for well-being, and fostering participation in policy planning; a vulnerability matrix. The matrix is flexible, and adjustable to different policy contexts and governance levels. We demonstrate matrix use in the Nordic context, reflect on its potential uses and discuss the benefits and limitations of the matrix as a tool for addressing social vulnerability to climate policies.
... For instance, with respect to the economic-environmental nexus, green growth fosters the idea of 'ecological modernisation', seeking to sustain growth through innovation and technological progress (Dryzek, 2013) and to achieve 'decoupling', i.e. to 'divorce economic growth from its ecological impact' (Fletcher and Rammelt, 2017: 450). Originally defined by the trade union movement and now cited in the Preamble of the Paris Agreement (United Nations, 2015), just transition builds upon green growth, yet pays particular attention to its negative social tradeoffs, attempting to turn them into socially just outcomes (International Labour Organisation, 2015;Stevis et al., 2020). ...
Article
As complex challenges like climate change and inequality become increasingly salient, eco-social policies are emerging as suitable public policy instruments to pursue integrated environmental and social objectives. However, despite their rising relevance, a descriptive-and hence empirically applicable-definition is still lacking in the reference literature, currently dominated by normative studies. Therefore, building on a critical assessment of the state of the art, this article proposes a framework for conceptualising eco-social policies, calling for an output-based definition with policy integration as its core element. The article also proposes a typology to differentiate various eco-social policies along two dimensions: the direction of policy integration and the link to economic growth. This typology allows us to elaborate on the possible roles that the welfare state can play vis-à-vis environmental challenges and policies, for instance in the context of decarbonisation: reactive or preventive; protection-or investment-oriented.
... The concept of a "just transition" originated in the 1970s labor movement in North America in response to workers displaced from their work in the process of phasing out polluting industries for the benefit of the environment (Morena et al., 2019). 1 Today, just transition measures refer to policy interventions that aim to shift the economic structure to a lowcarbon, socially and environmentallyfriendly one. A growing body of literature has contributed to the development of the just transition concept within the context of climate change mitigation policies, for example Green (2018); Heffron and McCauley (2018); Rosemberg (2010); Stevis et al. (2018); and Stevis and Felli (2015). ...
Book
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The signatories of the Paris Agreement have agreed to pursue efforts to limit global warming to between 1.5C and 2C. At the same time, governments are now focused on economic and social recovery with an emphasis on job creation. It is crucial to advance on all fronts. Jobs in a Net-Zero Emissions Future quantifies job losses and job gains in the transition to a net-zero carbon economy. It finds that 15 million net jobs can be created in the region by 2030. Transformations in agriculture, forestry, energy, transport, waste management, tourism, and construction make decarbonization possible and can create jobs, unlock economic and social benefits, and help protect the regions unique natural resource treasures. By reading this report, decision-makers and technicians will gain insight into the role of social dialogue, co-construction with public and private stakeholders, and the involvement of environment, labor, and line ministries in the design of public policies and development strategies that can deliver a just transition towards inclusive carbon-free prosperity.
... El concepto de "transición justa" se originó en América del Norte con el movimiento obrero de la década de 1970, en respuesta al despido de trabajadores durante el proceso de la eliminación gradual de industrias contaminantes para contribuir a la mejora del medio ambiente (Morena et al., 2019). 1 Actualmente, las medidas de transición justa se refieren a las intervenciones de políticas que tienen como objetivo cambiar la estructura económica por una con bajas emisiones de carbono y respetuosa con el medio ambiente. Un creciente conjunto de trabajos especializados ha contribuido al desarrollo del concepto de transición justa en el contexto de las políticas de mitigación del cambio climático, por ejemplo Green (2018) (2015). ...
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Los signatarios del Acuerdo de París han acordado emprender iniciativas para limitar el calentamiento global a entre 1,5 C y 2 C. A la vez, los gobiernos están centrados en la recuperación económica y social con énfasis en la creación de empleo. Es crucial avanzar en todos los frentes. El empleo en un futuro de cero emisiones netas cuantifica las pérdidas y las ganancias de empleos en la transición hacia una economía de cero emisiones netas y revela que se pueden crear 15 millones de empleos netos en la región para 2030. Las transformaciones en sectores como agricultura, silvicultura, energía, transporte, turismo, construcción y gestión de residuos hacen posible la descarbonización y pueden crear puestos de trabajo, generar beneficios economicos y sociales y ayudar a proteger el inigualable tesoro conformado por los recursos naturales de la región. Al leer este informe, técnicos y tomadores de decisión entenderán mejor el papel del diálogo social, el trabajo de construcción conjunta entre los interesados públicos y privados, y la participación de los ministerios de Medio Ambiente, Trabajo y otros ministerios competentes en el diseño de políticas públicas y estrategias de desarrollo que puedan propiciar una transición justa hacia una economía sin emisiones de carbono.
... Just transitions differ across countries and local context, reflected in a growing literature considering for example, coal in Australia and South Africa, and land issues in Scotland [46][47][48][49][50]. In the South African context, descriptions of a just transition includes a broader economic and social targets, recognizing that fossil-fuel economy transformation impacts will affect across regions and the economy [51]. ...
Article
As a global community, we need to understand better how a just transition can shift development paths to achieve net zero emissions and eliminate poverty. Our past development trajectories have led to high emissions, persistent inequality and a world that is fragmented across multiple contradictions. How can countries shift to development pathways that deliver zero poverty and zero carbon? In developing a theory of just transition, the article begins by reviewing a range of theoretical approaches from different traditions, building in particular on neo-Gramscian approaches. It applies and modifies core components of Gramsci’s approach, building a neo-Gramscian theory of just transitions around concepts of ideology, hegemony, change agents and fundamental conditions. The theory suggests how coalitions of change agents can come together behind a just transition. The coalition needs to gain broader support, establish a new cultural hegemony in support of just transitions and be able to transform the fundamental conditions of the 21st century. The article briefly considers how this better understanding can be applied to the practice of shifting development pathways. The penultimate section reflects on limitations, including that a fuller development of a theory of just transition will require application for detailed concrete examples and a community effort. Together, we might address the multiple challenges of our present conditions to transition to development that enables human flourishing and a healthy planet.
... Protests for environmental issues like organic or fair food products are often dominated by cognitive elites and may neglect to raise the question of affordability for low-income groups.© Jana Zscheischler3 For further elaboration on just transitions see the recent collection byMorena et al. (2020). ...
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The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic points to unequally distributed vulnerabilities in society. Unevenly distributed disadvantages are also found in processes of a social-ecological transformation. The concept of working-class environmentalism arguably presents a way out of this deficiency through incorporating and focusing on working class and precarious people in processes of social change. We develop four theses for our argumentation to revisit working-class environmentalism and conclude that this would build social resilience for coping with future crises of the whole of society.
... Emergent research has shown how trade unions have sought to solve the perceived jobs-versus-environment dilemma by developing, among other solutions, the concept of a Just Transition (Räthzel and Uzzell 2011, Stevis and Felli 2015, Morena et al. 2020. Research has also studied instances of trade union environmentalism and of unions acting as 'environmental actors' (Snell and Fairbrother 2010, Räthzel and Uzzell 2013, Hampton 2015. ...
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This contribution aims to provide a better understanding of trade unions’ engagement with climate change policies. It analyses the interactions between intra- and interorganizational bargaining, taking steel trade unions’ engagement with the 2018 revision of the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) as a case study. The contribution finds that interorganizational bargaining with employers’ organizations strongly influenced the formulation of trade unions’ negotiating positions on the EU ETS. This is mainly due to the combination of three factors: the scope EU multilevel decision-making offers each level of trade union action to pursue its interests; trade unions’ lack of expertise on climate policies; and the tradition of concession bargaining in the manufacturing industry. By underlining the difficulties faced by trade unions in developing an independent course of action on the EU ETS, the contribution expands our knowledge of the socio-political obstacles to implementing effective emissions reduction policies.
... Moreover, globalizing the pluralization of science brings to mind the decolonial turn in international relations (Mantz, 2019;Seth, 2011). Yet, it also raises broader and, arguably, more urgent concerns, as it is less a matter of disciplinary identity than how to face the global ecological crisis within the constraints of a just transition (Morena et al., 2019). This question is particularly urgent in the context of the Covid-19 crisis and its both global and local socioeconomic and political consequences. ...
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Dealing with uncertainty has become a matter of great concern for policy makers and scientific research in a world facing global, epochal and complex changes. But in essence, you cannot entirely predict the future. This article aims at conceptualizing the limits to anticipate the future-or what is often referred as the substitution of risk for uncertainty. In contrast to most theories examining risk and uncertainty, we start from the assumption that there are limits in the substitution of risk for uncertainty and that distinguishing between ontological and epistemic levels of analysis helps clarify such limits. The paper makes two arguments: first, most approaches see no ontological and/or epistemic limit in the substitution of risk for uncertainty; second, the pluralization of science is the only way to cope with limits in substituting risk for uncertainty. This second argument draws on the assumption that accounting for the uncertainty of the future depends on knowledge production processes able to overcome disciplinary boundaries and better include lay and expert knowledge. In times of great concerns regarding mitigation and adaptation to the ecological crisis, we illustrate our arguments with insights from global environmental governance.
... An approach to just transitions that limits the possibility of an eco-social synthesis to those sectors in which nature is "apparent" perpetuates the myth that social and environmental policies are in separate realms. Over the past fifty or sixty years, labour environmentalism has challenged this divide, whether with respect to occupational health and safety, environmental health or sustainable development (Bennett 2007;Silverman 2004 and2006;Räthzel and Uzzell 2013;Morena, Krause and Stevis 2019). The process towards an eco-social synthesis remains challenging but the debate has been engaged within the world of work (ETUI and ETUC 2021; TUCA 2020; Räthzel and Uzzell 2019). ...
Article
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Just transition has historically been associated with the environmental transition, initially with sectors such as logging and chemicals and subsequently with energy and climate change. More recently, the concept has expanded further to include manufacturing, Industry 4.0, food and biodiversity (TUCA 2020; Carrau, Forero and De Wel 2020; ETUI and ETUC 2021). In its general parameters this broadening is consistent with the International Labour Organization’s Guidelines for a Just Transition Towards Environmentally Sustainable Economies and Societies for All (ILO 2015). Having said this and given the current situation with COVID, what would a just health transition look like? How would it compare to a just energy/climate transition? How can a “just transition for all” as outlined by the ILO (2015) and others be operationalized and implemented in practice? Can we overcome tensions between social and environmental objectives and adopt a combined eco-social approach towards transitions? Drawing on an analytical scheme developed by the Just Transition Research Collaborative (JTRC) (2018),1 we provide a holistic, socio-ecological examination of just transitions which we illustrate with examples from energy and health. While we suggest that a just health transition is necessary we also argue that it should not be separated from a broader, more comprehensive ecosocial transition project.
... Against this background, 'Just Transition' emerged as a strategic framework from the international trade union movement that is designed to protect the interests of workers and their communities in the process of transition to a low carbon economy, moving beyond the job versus environment tension by emphasising social justice (Clarke & Lipsig-Mummé, 2020;Räthzel & Uzzell, 2011). However, with climate change's growing impact on the economy and society, and through the involvement of (inter)national governance bodies (e.g. the United Nations, ILO and European Union) and neo-liberal market forces, this framework has become contested in terms of its inclusivity and justness, what the role of the state should be, and how its aims can be achieved (Morena et al., 2019;Snell, 2018). ...
Article
Union‐civil alliances have garnered scholarly and practitioner attention in many nations. Drawing on extensive documentary evidence, this qualitative study examines the rationales for this, focusing on coalitions involving New Zealand's peak labour body and its affiliates around climate change and workplace issues. Laclau and Mouffe's (2001) seminal political theory on radical democracy frames a critical reading of social movement unionism and union‐civil alliances as an effort to build new hegemony against dominant neo‐liberal discourses and practices. Emergent themes suggest a degree of change by the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions and affiliates in their emphasis of wage and conditions vis‐à‐vis wider issues and develop alternative forms of representation and solidarities involving unions. However, early initiatives seem unlikely to gain more traction other than via a radicalised democratic approach involving multi‐interest approaches, their urgency underscored by irreversible environmental imperatives.
... Now that the just transition concept has become an established part of the international climate discourse (Morena et al. 2019), the question is how the concept will be implemented at national and industry level. In many countries, national union movements are asking to be consulted on the Nationally Determined Contributions that outline countries' planned actions to achieve the objectives of the Paris agreement (Jenkins et al. 2020). ...
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This article discusses international trade unions’ engagement with climate change. Using a qualitative methodology based on an analysis of interviews and archive documents, the article investigates the factors shaping the climate policies of the international union movement. It finds that these policies have been framed at the nexus of unions’ internal politics, coalition strategies and the institutional environment of the UNFCCC process. As a result of contentious intra-organizational politics, contrasting alliances with external organizations and the institutional constraints of the UNFCCC process, international unions’ climate policies have been torn between the competing priorities of ensuring workers’ economic security and protecting the climate, leading to the inherently ambiguous just transition framework. The article speaks to the broader issues of the socio-political forces affecting global climate governance and, ultimately, to the preconditions for an inclusive transition to a low-carbon economy.
... That is, a way to recognize and manage energy and industrial transitions so that the workers, communities, and other stakeholders do not face disproportionate risks or harm. The concept emerged in the American labour movement in the 1970s and subsequently gained prominence through the work of unions and social activists [6]. Solidifying its global prominence, the 2015 Paris Agreement of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change included the proviso that signatory nations would take into account "the imperatives of a just transition of the workforce and the creation of decent work and quality jobs in accordance with nationally-defined development priorities" (UNFCC, 2015). ...
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The oil and gas industry is a major economic driver in many regions and countries, providing workers with well-paid jobs and spurring investments and economic growth. The need to transition these industries in order to meet climate commitments presents a major challenge. How can the costs and risks to workers and communities of the transition be mitigated? How can stakeholders be included in decisions that impact them? How do transitions impact the broader economy of these regions and what are they transitioning to? Importantly, how can regional development policies support this process? This comparative policy review explores just transition management in three oil and gas dependent regions that have signified the need to transition away from the oil and gas sector, i.e., Taranaki (New Zealand), the northeast of Scotland, and the Jutland peninsula in southwest Denmark, drawing out key lessons and leading practices. These cases are positioned within an empirically grounded, conceptual framework of national and regional just transition policies.
... A number of such processes and conditions that have led to trade union environmental policies-or the lack of them-have been analysed. They include the economic sector in which unions operate, the societal, political and economic pressures they experience, and the histories, which define their political ambitions (see chapters in Parts 1, 2 and 4 in this volume, and Felli 2014;Farnhill 2016;Snell and Fairbrother 2010;Vachon and Brecher 2016;Morena et al. 2020). ...
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Räthzel discusses the transformative work of union environmentalists in one of the largest Spanish trades union confederations. She explores how ‘organic intellectuals’ coming from the resistance movement against the Franco regime where capable to take advantage of a favourable conjuncture of societal and organisational conditions. Connecting Marxism with environmentalism they created an extensive set of environmental policies and structures, including hundreds of environmental representatives throughout the country, a research institute, and an international organisation reaching out to unions in the Global South. Based on documents and the life-histories of the protagonists it is argued that the success, crisis and revival of this ‘environmental project’ can only be understood by analysing the relationship between structural affordances and the role of individuals as promoters of change. Keywords: Trade Union Environmentalism, Comisiones Obreras, Organic Intellectuals, Life-Histories, Marxism, Social Movements
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Transitions towards low-carbon societies trigger renegotiations of justice concerns in regions that have to abandon unsustainable, fossil-based production patterns. In these transition regions, tensions may appear between inner- and supra-regional justice claims on the one hand, and recognition-based and distributional justice concerns on the other. Intermediary actors such as municipal politicians have to navigate these spatial and moral tensions. Based on qualitative data generated in the German lignite-mining region of Lusatia, ‘moral rifts’ are reconstructed that shape local perceptions of justice. These rifts help elucidate how reconciliation in this region proves to be difficult despite considerable redistributive efforts. Unless patterns of misrecognition are adequately addressed, prospects for a successful transformation of the region remain limited.
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The planned retreat from a carbon-based economy is an essential component of addressing the root causes of climate breakdown. Nevertheless, how just, inclusive and equitable this transition might be is not guaranteed. With its origins in the trade union movement, the just transition stands as an energy transition pathway that can challenge head on dominant and comfortingly narratives on ‘win–win’ and ‘greening business as usual’. The reality is that moving to a low-carbon or post-carbon economy and society means the end of the fossil fuel energy system. This throws up a host of complex issues ranging from the role of the state (national and local) in managing or coordinating the transition, issues of democratic voice and procedure, reframing fossil fuels as ‘carbon resources’, to divestment and reinvestment energy strategies. Central to all these, and under-acknowledged in the literature, is to recognise that conflict and conflict transformation will frame and characterise the low-carbon energy transition.
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Planetary justice (PJ) requires a profound planetary just transition (PJT). Recognizing the essentially contested nature of just transition (JT) we propose an analytical scheme to better interpret and differentiate amongst the growing number of JT proposals and, by extension, PJTs. After outlining the increasing association of JT proposals with global policy, as well as their proliferation, we employ scale to address their spatial and temporal inclusiveness and scope to address their social and ecological inclusiveness. Assuming that inclusion does not automatically translate into procedural or substantive justice we then propose that JT proposals should also be evaluated in terms of their socioecological purpose, specifically social equality and standing for nature. We then argue that a full understanding of JT must combine inclusiveness and justice and suggest ways in which we can advance the practice and study of Planetary Just Transition .
Article
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
Article
Despite widespread recognition of the need to transition toward more sustainable production and consumption and numerous initiatives to that end, global resource extraction and corresponding socio-ecological degradation continue to grow. Understanding the causes of this persistent failure is a necessary step towards more effective action. This article contributes to that understanding by synthesizing theory and evidence that links unsustainable production-consumption systems to power and inequality. While sustainable consumption and production research and action mostly focuses on technological or behavioral change, the socioecological inequalities driving production-consumption systems built into the organization of our global political economy, remain largely overlooked. In response, we propose a structural political economy orientation that seeks explicitly to reduce these inequalities and advance environmental justice and, thus, create the conditions for sustainable production-consumption systems. We then propose three important arenas of research and action towards sustainable productionconsumption systems: justice, governance, and co-production of knowledge and action. These arenas, collectively and individually, can serve as entry points to study and act on the dynamics of (un)sustainable production-consumption systems. This can be done at the micro level, with respect to specific commodity chains or systems of provisioning, or at meso and macro levels with respect to national and global production networks. Our proposed orientation helps distinguish research and practice proposals into those emphasizing management and compensation resulting often in persistence of unsustainability, from those proffering structural changes in unsustainable production-consumption systems. We invite critique and collaboration to develop this research and action agenda further.
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.
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The concept of a ‘just transition’ to a low‐carbon economy is firmly embedded in mainstream global discourses about mitigating climate change. Drawing on Karl Polanyi's political economy elaborated in The Great Transformation, we interrogate the idea of a just transition and place it within its historical context. We address a major contradiction at the core of global energy transition debates: the rapid shift to low‐carbon energy‐systems will require increased extraction of minerals and metals. In doing so, we argue that extractive industries are energy and carbon‐intensive, and will enlarge and intensify social and ecological injustice. Our findings reveal the importance of understanding how the idea of a just transition is used, and by who, and the type of justice that underpins this concept. We demonstrate the need to ground just transition policies and programmes in a notion of justice as fairness.
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In this comprehensive Handbook, scholars from across the globe explore the relationships between workers and nature in the context of the environmental crises. They provide an invaluable overview of a fast-growing research field that bridges the social and natural sciences. Chapters provide detailed perspectives of environmental labour studies, environmental struggles of workers, indigenous peoples, farmers and commoners in the Global South and North. The relations within and between organisations that hinder or promote environmental strategies are analysed, including the relations between workers and environmental organisations, NGOs, feminist and community movements.
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Trade unions have received little attention in sustainability transitions research, despite their capacity to influence policy decisions. This article presents a study of how key unions in Norway a country with a large petroleum sector as well as high union level density – have moved their preferences on transition issues in the period 2007–2019. With a document-based process analysis of trade unions’ changing policy preferences and interpretations of a just transition, a concept that aims to bridge the apparent gap between destruction and creation policies, we show how trade unions have used this concept to reconcile different positions among unions. While unions from petroleumrelated sectors are more opposed to phase-out policies compared to non-petroleum unions, the solidarity principle among unions has caused some movement towards a joint support of a just transition. Yet, different unions promote different ideas of what a just transition means depending on their sector affiliation.
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