Study identifies fair principles toward achieving zero carbon emission

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Researchers from Monash University and Royal Holloway University have published a report detailing how Australia can address various challenges that hinder its efforts toward achieving zero carbon emission goals. 

The report, titled “Just Transitions in Australia: moving towards low carbon lives across policy, industry and practice,” looked into ways the government could overcome various roadblocks, including socio-economic, location, scale, and technology challenges while considering the country’s dependence on jobs and economic activities in carbon-based energy systems. 

The key principles suggested in the study are aimed at ensuring the achievement of decarbonisation while avoiding the creation of new harms or inequalities in society. They include: 

  • Attending to differences between and within locations and communities in terms of the potential, attributes, and local experience of systems change;
  • Carefully considering the different timescales at which just transitions can be implemented across different communities and sectors;
  • Engaging with models of innovation beyond technology, to acknowledge the role of people, places and communities in social and institutional change needed for decarbonisation;
  • Listening to and respecting local knowledge, experiences and complexities in everyday life to guarantee lasting impact;
  • Considering the distribution of responsibility for essential goods and services as well as fair distribution of costs and benefits among diverse groups;
  • Ensuring that First Nations peoples, including Traditional Owners, are empowered to participate and lead the transition;
  • Encouraging inclusive engagement and participation in transitions processes, which will benefit from cross-sectoral coalitions of actors;
  • Deliberating and promoting transparency on how the benefits and potential negative consequences of decarbonisation are understood and accurately communicated in and for localities and regions. 

Sponsored by the British Academy’s Just Transitions to Decarbonisation in the Asia-Pacific Programme, the report follows recent existing studies and ongoing research with people in communities across Australia. Its data was also gathered through submissions from various organisations, interviews with experts, and sector-specific reviews. 

“Policymakers should keep in mind a just transition is about better futures for all of us and needs to be finely attuned to the needs and unique challenges in every rural, regional and urban community across Australia,” said Professor Sarah Pink, a co-author of the study and director of the Monash University Emerging Technologies Research Lab.