Just transition: A conceptual review

Xinxin Wang, Kevin Lo*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

158 Citations (Scopus)


The growing attention paid to the idea of a just transition away from the incumbent fossil fuel energy paradigm has led scholars to devise diverse definitions, understandings, and viewpoints of the term. This review seeks to clarify the different perspectives surrounding the concept, to consolidate knowledge, and to provide a concise account of current debates in the literature as well as a research agenda. It identifies five themes around which the concept has been discussed: (1) just transition as a labor-oriented concept, (2) just transition as an integrated framework for justice, (3) just transition as a theory of socio-technical transition, (4) just transition as a governance strategy, and (5) just transition as public perception. Overall, this review suggests that the literature on just transition employs rich theoretical and empirical insights from various disciplines yet contains several gaps. Specifically, it argues that the literature would benefit from more empirical studies rooted in practice, more discussion on the relationship between different concepts of just transition, an expansion of geographical scope to include developing countries and non-democratic regimes, and more attention to power dynamics in just transition.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102291
JournalEnergy Research and Social Science
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering
  • Fuel Technology
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

User-Defined Keywords

  • Conceptual review
  • Energy transition
  • Just transition
  • Low-carbon transition


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