How just are just transition plans? Perceptions of decarbonisation and low-carbon energy transitions among peat workers in Ireland
1 Jun 2022, Energy Research and Social Science 88.
Banerjee A, Schuitema G
Abstract: The concept “just transition” refers to the principle important to underpin policies to mitigate negative socioeconomic consequences that arise during the transition to a low-carbon society. However, the concept has been subject to different interpretations and currently lacks theoretical and practical clarity. As a result, a just transition plan can fail to deliver intended justice and mitigate adverse outcomes. This paper seeks to examine how the overarching aim of a just transition is translated into practice. We use distributive, procedural and restorative justice as an explanatory framework to analyse how a just transition programme can be designed based on theory. We illustrate this by using a case study that involves a just transition process taking place in the Irish Midlands. More specifically, we used qualitative research methods to collect data to look at how workers perceived the just transition programme designed to provide them with a just transition. We discuss how discrepancies in the interpretation of justice and its theoretical and practical application can lead to tensions between stakeholders, which may obstruct the just transition process in general. We argue that the discrepancy between the “theory” and “practice” can be attributed to the absence of structure in a just transition process. This process is needed to safeguard the design of a practical just transition programme based on the theoretical interpretations. This article elaborates on what such a process might look like for the benefit of all.