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The unjust just transition? Exploring different dimensions of justice in the lignite regions of Lusatia, Eastern Greater Poland, and Gorj


Schuster,  Antonia
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;

Zoll,  M.
External Organizations;


Otto,  Ilona M.
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;

Stölzel,  F.
External Organizations;

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Schuster, A., Zoll, M., Otto, I. M., Stölzel, F. (2023): The unjust just transition? Exploring different dimensions of justice in the lignite regions of Lusatia, Eastern Greater Poland, and Gorj. - Energy Research and Social Science, 104, 103227.

Cite as: https://publications.pik-potsdam.de/pubman/item/item_28360
The European Green Deal has been designed to make the European Union the world's first carbon-neutral union by 2050. Changing to fossil fuel-free energy systems is a priority for European Member States. A highly discussed and challenging topic is the phase-out of lignite, which is causing drastic changes on the ground. The European Commission has introduced the Just Transition Mechanism, an instrument designed to help ensure that the transition is fair and socially just. However, what fair and just truly means for citizens in affected regions remains unresolved. Thus, this study was conducted to ask how the policy package is perceived by stakeholders in the lignite regions of Lusatia (Germany), Eastern Greater Poland (Poland), and Gorj (Romania). We applied a qualitative research design conducting 91 semi-structured interviews which were focused on exploring different dimensions of justice, namely procedural, distributional, restorative and recognition justice. Our results show that most interviewees perceive the ongoing transition as unfair. Among the greatest challenges faced are the needs to holistically involve all stakeholders in the process and to implement their needs and demands. Major difficulties are obtaining the necessary funding and spreading the benefits to all stakeholders, as well as dealing with socio-demographic pressures, geographic isolation, or poverty. Especially the creation of a new identity and a shared vision for the post-mining era, i.e., one that is not only based on technical innovation, is lacking. The findings show that the Just Transition Mechanism does not sufficiently address its objectives to achieve justice, and major shortcomings need to be tackled by the national and regional decision-makers.