How may a transition to a decarbonised economy be designed to be socially just, and perceived to be so by key stakeholders, even turning opponents into political allies? 

JUSTDECARB brings together leading researchers in philosophy, law, economics and political science from four countries (Norway, Great Britain, the Czech Republic and Austria). The project has two main objectives:

1. Contribute knowledge on how climate change can be made socially just and politically robust, with a special focus on inclusive processes and redistributive measures.

2. In consultation with policymakers and civil society stakeholders, the project will develop a “toolkit for policymakers”. This will describe recommended steps, and methods to use for steering transition processes in a socially just and politically robust low-carbon direction.

Focusing on better understanding the “winners” and “losers” from low-carbon transitions, the interdisciplinary teamexplores which actors are vulnerable to adverse impacts from decarbonisation and in what ways, and how they could benefit from opportunities created by the transition. This will involve multi-disciplinary analysis of

(i) basic conceptual and normative questions associated with classifying and assessing transitional losses and gains (philosophy: wide reflective equilibrium);

(ii) the jobs and skills vulnerable to such transitions and needed in low-carbon sectors (economics: micro-econometric analysis); and

(iii) the political resistance from actors affected by the transition, and the potential for alternative transition strategies to alleviate such resistance (political science: case studies and statistical analysis of survey data).

The project will contribute to the design of socially just and politically robust decarbonisation policies and processes. Drawing on the interdisciplinary research described above, we explore the institutional design needed to steer socially just and politically robust transitions. We will develop further insights—from political theory and law—needed for such crucial institutional design tasks. Specifically, we assess what democratic theory and environmental law can tell us about just and effective processes for the design and implementation of climate policy (e.g. which actors should be included in which processes, and how their inclusion could shape both individual perceptions and aggregate outcomes of low-carbon transitions), and we will develop multiple criteria to evaluate substantive climate policies.

The 3 year European research project (12/2020 – 11/2023) is funded by JPI Climate’s ‘Enabling Societal Transformation in the Face of Climate Change’ (SOLSTICE).

October 2023 update

The JUSTDECARB consortium jointly published a ‘Framework to Guide National Policy’, which is available here.

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