Just transitions for industrial decarbonisation in the UK

IDRIC Project MIP 2.4

University of Sussex
The University of Manchester
Tyndall Centre

Background

Industrial strategy and climate policy goals for decarbonisation must not come at the expense of social and environmental justice for communities and workers.

IDRIC Project MIP 2.4 aims to contribute new insights and approaches to advancing a ‘just transition’ in the UK to ensure the costs and benefits of industrial decarbonisation are distributed fairly.

Prof Benjamin Sovacool

Prof Benjamin Sovacool

Principal Investigator
University of Sussex

Project Team

University of Sussex:
Dr Abigail Martin
Dr Paul Upham

University of Exeter:
Prof Patrick Devine-Wright
Dr Stacia Ryder

Tyndall Centre, University of Manchester:
Dr Sarah Mander

Aim

  • Identify community and worker vulnerabilities, concerns, and priorities to better understand how industrial decarbonisation strategies impact people;
  • Map technical innovations, multi-level policies, collaborative decision-making capacities, governance processes and net-zero business models needed to ensure decarbonisation projects avoid burdening the most affected and vulnerable members of society while enhancing benefits to economic and workforce development, environmental health, and education;
  • Develop a community-engaged integrative framework to guide UK industrial cluster decarbonisation activities to be more equitable, inclusive and just in the transition to net-zero.

Research Design:

To better understand how industrial decarbonisation strategies impact people and what decision-making practices and policies are needed to advance a just transition in the UK, this project, this research will be carried out by academic experts working with communities using a mixed-methods social science research design involving the following three iterative components:

  1. A systematic review of social science publications and grey literature on just transition theories, concepts and cases, which will inform the research team’s approach to case study and survey development as described below.
  2. Three case studies on industrial clusters in the UK, where the implementation of industrial decarbonisation strategies is underway/imminent: Grangemouth, Scotland; Merseyside, England; South Wales. The case studies will draw from documentary evidence and literature on local context, governance and place-based identities and experiences in past transitions; participant observation and other ethnographic methods; and semi-structured interviews and focus groups with participants recruited in each of the three clusters, with a focus on local residents and workers who represent vulnerable/affected populations. The case studies will also draw from survey data, as described below.
  3. A national survey will be carried out in parallel to case study development. The sampling strategy will result in four nationally-representative groups of UK respondents, all over the age of 18: (1) the general UK public, (2) those close to the Grangemouth industrial cluster; (3) those close to the Merseyside industrial cluster; and (4) those close to the South Wales industrial cluster. The survey questionnaire will measure opinions on topics pertaining to industrial decarbonisation strategies currently being pursued in the UK and desirable just transition outcomes, informed by insights gained from qualitative fieldwork in the three clusters and the systematic review of just transition literature and other past surveys of public opinion on hydrogen and CCS technologies in the UK.

Meet the Team

Team 1

Dr Abigail Martin

University of Sussex

Team 3

Prof Patrick Devine-Wright

University of Exeter

Team 1

Dr Stacia Ryder

University of Exeter

Team 2

Dr Sarah Mander

Tyndall Centre, University of Manchester

Team 2

Dr Paul Upham

Team 1

Dr Abigail Martin

University of Sussex

Team 3

Prof Patrick Devine-Wright

University of Exeter

Team 1

Dr Stacia Ryder

University of Exeter

Team 2

Dr Sarah Mander

Tyndall Centre, University of Manchester

Team 2

Dr Paul Upham

Associated Outputs

  • A peer-reviewed publication presenting a systematic review of the just transition literature and concepts.
  • A set of just transition roadmaps co-developed for the three clusters in collaboration with local stakeholders and people.
  • A final public report, synthesizing analysis of qualitative and quantitative data into findings on the diversity of public concerns, priorities and opinions regarding industrial decarbonisation in the UK, with recommendations for governance approaches across various scales of analysis and policy jurisdiction.
  • A peer-reviewed publication analysing the governance requirements and challenges for advancing a just transition in the UK considering place-related factors and the multiple venues and levels of policy jurisdiction involved in realizing just transition outcomes.