RE&D Research Seminar
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Abstract: Is a just transition from coal possible in Australia? For domestic power generation, coal is clearly in decline. But 90% of Australia’s coal is exported, mainly into the Asian seaborne coal market. This paper reports on the findings of a short study which sought to (1) understand how the idea of ‘just transition’ is currently being understood in Australia; (2) draw out the challenges and opportunities to Australia achieving a just transition away from coal; and (3) place just transition in Australia in regional context. It draws on a detailed review of the academic literature and discourse analysis of the grey literature, a series of semi-structured key informant interviews and 355 media articles. Finding that a transition away from coal is already underway despite the toxicity of the term ‘just transition’, the paper reflects on the key findings of the research project. It proposes mechanisms to generate productive change towards a just transition, because the alternative to a just transition is a disorderly transition.
Biography: Gareth Edwards is an Associate Professor in the School of International Development at the University of East Anglia. His research focusses on understanding and theorizing justice in the context of environmental governance dilemmas. In 2021-22 Gareth is a Visiting Fellow at the Sydney Environment Institute as part of his Leverhulme International Fellowship, which examines how justice arguments are mobilised in discussions about coal’s future in Australia and India, particularly by those supportive of ongoing coal extraction. He has been leading the British Academy-funded project ‘A just transition away from coal in Australia’ which seeks to understand how ‘just transition’ is understood in Australia, the challenges Australia will have to overcome to achieve a just transition, and the opportunities for reframing just transition ideas in ways which stimulate productive discussions between different stakeholders and communities.
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