Just Transitions to Decarbonisation in the Asia-Pacific region

Read the summary and policy synthesis of this research programme.

Professor Subhes C Bhattacharyya, De Montfort University; Dr Sukanya Das, TERI School of Advanced Studies; Dr Andrew Mitchell, De Montfort University; Dr Gopal K Sarangi, TERI School of Advanced Studies.

All Change: Equitably Decarbonising India's Transportation Sector

Ref: JTAP210007

Award Value: £98,548.00

Abstract: As a fast-growing economy, India has seen tremendous growth in its transport sector, which has led to trebling of carbon emissions from the sector between 2000 and 2020. Although the country has initiated several measures to decarbonise the sector, including promotion of electric vehicles, energy efficiency improvements and reducing carbon intensity of the sector, any deep decarbonisation of the sector has significant socio-economic implications for the vulnerable section of the population. As there is a knowledge gap in understanding the issues related to a just and inclusive transition towards a decarbonised transport sector, this scoping study aims to better understand the issues involved. This project will scope how national and regional policy spaces frame and integrate just transition pathways in support of a decarbonised transport sector and develop insights from governmental and sector informants on anticipated implications of transitioning. These insights will allow better policies for just transition.

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Professor Peter Adey, Royal Holloway, University of London; Professor Sarah Pink, Monash University; Professor Rob Raven, Monash University.

Just Transitions in Australia: moving towards low carbon lives across policy, industry and practice

Ref: JTAP210014

Value Value: £92,663.00

Abstract: A transition to a low-carbon economy is perhaps nowhere more crucial or contested than in Australia, a continent on the front line of global heating and climate change-induced bushfires, drought, flash floods and extreme temperatures. The heavy reliance on extractive industries for coal and minerals, and a government caught up in climate denial than transition, exposes some of the political and structural lock-ins to highly carbonised industries and lifestyles. This project will build on a research partnership between RHUL, Monash and a wider network of researchers and advisors in Australia to examine ‘just transitions’ to decarbonisation. It will undertake and aggregate new and existing research to examine actual, possible, partial and failed, examples of ‘just transitions’ across multiple sectoral and societal domains (work, energy and industry, mobility, home, technologies). It will identify, collate and examine different roadmaps for ‘just transition’, examples of good and bad practice, and evaluate their transferability.

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Dr Gareth Edwards, University of East Anglia; Dr Robert McNeil, University of Sydney; Professor Susan Park, University of Sydney

A just transition away from coal in Australia

Ref: JTAP210019

Award Value: £99,357.00

Abstract: Is a just transition from coal possible in Australia? As the climate emergency worsens and as heads of state prepare for COP26 in Glasgow, Australia’s domestic electricity remains coal-dependent and Australia remains the world’s largest coal exporter. Australia’s ability to achieve a just transition will have significant implications for broader efforts to decarbonise in both Asia-Pacific and the world, both directly through the coal supply chains it enables and indirectly through Australia’s regional diplomacy and development aid. Through a rapid evidence review building on existing work and new interviews and focus groups in Canberra, NSW and Queensland with key actors from Government, industry and civil society, this project will examine how a ‘just transition’ is being defined in Australia, will explore the key challenges to achieving it, and set out a new broader approach to just transition which will help shape global efforts to justly achieve the climate action that is urgently needed.

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Dr Peter Howson, Northumbria University; Dr Rini Astuti, Australian National University; Dr Oliver Hesengerth, Northumbria University; Professor Sara Kindon, Victoria University of Wellington

Asia-Pacific ClimateScapes: exploring opportunities, challenges and trade-offs toward just transitions for decarbonisation

Ref: JTAP210021

Award Value: £78,756.00

Abstract: This project will bring together 3 existing collaborations to explore just transitions to decarbonisation for the Asia- Pacific. We propose a multi-landscape approach to consider the intersecting social, political, and economic challenges towards decarbonisation for 3 domains of environmental governance, these include: 1) Riverscapes, 2) Forestscapes, and 3) Oceanscapes. We understand decarbonisation as both the technical and political fixes for mitigating climate change. Using textual analysis, interviews, and participatory action research this project will explore the role of young people in envisioning and charting a future for living in coastal zones, major river deltas, and tropical forests in times of rapid environmental change. This project will examine contested discourses surrounding just transitions to decarbonisation through a regional political ecology. With partners from across research, policy, and practice, working on a combined portfolio of over 300 decarbonisation projects, this project will explore possibilities for pursuing progressive climate politics with costs and benefits more equitably distributed.

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Dr Clare Richardson-Barlow, University of Leeds; Dr James Van Alstine, University of Leeds; Dr Donal Brown, University of Sussex; Dr Nofri Yenita Dahlan, Universiti Teknologi MARA

Facilitating a Just, Fair, and Affordable Energy Transition in the Asia-Pacific

Ref: JTAP210029

Award Value: £73,069.00

Abstract: This project will partner researchers in the United Kingdom and the Asia-Pacific to explore novel models for a just and equitable transition to renewable energy systems in the Asia-Pacific. Rural electrification is a prerequisite of wider UN sustainable development goals, however, much of the developing Asia-Pacific remains with limited access to reliable and affordable electricity, further hindering the response to COVID-19 and exacerbating development challenges. In addition, issues of justice, equity and inclusion plague efforts to address the global energy transition while also accounting for quality of life and developmental impacts among the world's poorest. This research seeks to understand how the just transition looks in this context, through engaging with key stakeholders within the region and within 3 case study locations in order to identify the winners and losers in local efforts to realise global and regional climate targets.

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Dr Leslie Mabon, Open University; Dr Andrew Chapman, Kyushu University; Professor Benjamin McLellen, Kyoto University

Just transitions to a net-zero sustainable society in Japan

Ref: JTAP210030

Award Value: £49,616.00

Japan is one of the highest-emitting nations globally, yet has faced criticism for its slow progress in reducing its emissions and moving towards a sustainable and zero-carbon society. To date, there has also been limited scholarly and policy attention to how Japan's climate change response might affect different regions of the country differently - especially rural areas that might be expected to take up the bulk of new renewable energy infrastructure or industrial regions whose workforces rely on jobs in high-emitting sectors such as steel and power generation. The aim of this project is to review existing research and develop scenarios for a just transition in Japan, giving a geographical view on a just response to climate change imperatives for the country.

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Dr Ping Huang, University of Sheffield; Dr Xiaohui Hu, Nanjing Normal University; Professor David Tyfield, Lancaster University; Dr Linda Westman, University of Sheffield

Just transitions on the ground: Ecological civilization in urban China?

Ref: COVJT210063

Award Value: £93,518.00

Addressing the challenge of anthropogenic climate change entails a global transition towards decarbonization. This transition process needs to be not only environmentally sustainable, but also socially just and inclusive. Nevertheless, the term 'just transition' is often approached theoretically instead of empirically, leading to a lack of substantive meaning and contextual sensitivity. Moving away from an abstract and normative approach to just transition, this project will engage with just transitions on the ground through exploration of a high-profile transition strategy in contemporary China: 'ecological civilization.' Specifically, the project takes up the city as the unit of analysis and examines whether, how, and to what extent ecological civilization is designed and pursued in practice as a form of just transition. The project will generate evidence-based insights into the potential pathways for a just transition.

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