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Framework development for ‘just transition’ in coal producing jurisdictions

2019-11, Harrahill, Kieran, Douglas, Owen

The rhetoric of the ‘just transition’ lies at the heart of energy and development policies internationally. In this context, it is crucial that communities dependent on fossil fuel extraction and production for employment do not become ‘victims’ of the decarbonisation process. This paper involves a theoretically and conceptually grounded comparative analysis of policy measures that have been introduced in three first world jurisdictions which have been dependent on coal for employment – North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany, Alberta in Canada and Victoria in Australia. In so doing, measures which have successfully ameliorated the socio-economic well-being of coal dependent communities are identified and a framework for successful just transition is proposed. Recognising, but notwithstanding, inherent power dynamics, the framework identifies an important role for government in assisting workers and communities in navigating the transition process and in supporting new and emerging low-carbon industries in the context of ‘strong’ sustainable development.