A joint project between several global institutions to further the role of law in delivering the low-carbon economy whilst exploring/improving definitions of ‘justice’ and the idea of a ‘just transition’.

Within climate, energy, and environmental (CEE) scholar communities, transition means different things because each conceptualize ‘justice’ in distinct ways. Therefore, in ensuring a ‘just transition’ to a low-carbon economy, how can society support such a process when there are mixed visions of its meaning? 

Defining justice

These three research areas all have their own version of ‘justice scholarship’ – i.e. energy justice (McCauley et al. 2013), environmental justice (Capek, 1993; Walker and Buckeley, 2006), and climate justice (Caney, 2014).  At their simplest these three forms of justice can be defined as:

  1. climate justice concerns sharing the benefits and burdens of climate change from a human rights perspective;
  2. energy justice refers to the application of human rights across the energy life-cycle (from cradle to grave); and
  3. environmental justice aims to treat all citizens equally and to involve them in the development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations and policies.

To-date there has been very limited research in uniting these perspectives, and we advance a conceptualization, the ‘just transition’, which encapsulates all three perspectives. Further, we aim to unite interdisciplinary scholars working on issues across the energy system on the just transition to a low-carbon economy. This project will primarily be a law-led project but we believe our initiative can establish clearly the role of law with other disciplines in relation to climate, energy and environmental issues. And hence the team is interdisciplinary consisting of academics from law, geography, business, environmental sciences and public health.