Headline: The Energy Futures Lab: A case study of justice in energy transitions

While the concept of ‘just transitions’ has become more and more prominent in academic and popular discussions of sustainability transition, these conceptions are often framed in purely economic terms, and focus on the economic impact on communities, regions, and nation-states. We argue that a broader conception of justice in transitions, and in particular energy transitions, is required. Questions such as who will win and who will lose as society transitions to more sustainable future, who decides what the transition will look like, how are those historically excluded from decision making recognized, and how are the interests of non-humans and future generations included are important to answer in order to ensure that concepts of justice are included in transitions processes. Answering these questions is critical in “ensuring that system transitions are not only more sustainable, but also more just” (Williams and Doyon, 2019, p. 144). In this paper, we apply the justice and system transition framework (Williams and Doyon, 2019) to the Energy Futures Lab (EFL). We find that while the EFL has made great strides towards justice in transition, the EFL is also a demonstration of the challenges of incorporating justice such as addressing issues of power dynamics and conceptions of diversity and inclusion. We also find that the justice and system transitions framework proves to be a valuable tool in assessing justice in transitions projects. Going beyond the common ‘just transition’ approach that focuses on distributive justice gives a richer conception of justice and ensures that procedural and recognition approaches are included.

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Academic Articles

Williams, S., & Doyon, A. (2020). The Energy Futures Lab: A case study of justice in energy transitions. Environmental innovation and societal transitions, 37, 290-301. doi:10.1016/j.eist.2020.10.001.

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