Who's fighting for justice? Advocacy in energy justice and just transition scholarship

Rebecca E. Shelton, Hallie Eakin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Recent political, economic and policy change in the US, Australia, and Europe, in particular, have put transitions towards low-carbon energy futures at the forefront of local and national policy agendas. How these transitions are managed is likely to affect the feasibility, timing and scope of transition policy. Recognizing the existing maldistribution of the benefits and burdens of fossil fuel-based extraction, energy generation, and distribution, advocates and scholars increasingly call for policies that not only support decarbonization goals, but also those of equity. Proposals that do not contain such goals may be met with resistance. This review examines the politics of achieving more just outcomes by asking, what is our current understanding of justice advocacy and the impacts of such advocacy on the energy transition? In this study, we systematically review articles that include the key concepts of 'just transition' or 'energy justice' and that examine advocacy in energy transition contexts. We find advocates from diverse communities and affiliated with varied organizational types are involved in advocacy. Diverse issues motivate advocates and the most common advocate type in the literature are residents that are affected by local impacts of energy transition decisions. Extra-institutional tactics are the most common means of advocate action. We also find that advocacy is often motivated by issues related to decision-making processes and environmental degradation. These findings illuminate that: (a) energy systems and transitions are governed by processes and institutions that are often inaccessible, (b) advocates often attempt to affect change using tactics external to such processes and institutions, and (c) issues of environmental degradation are often prominent in advocacy discourse concerning the energy transition. Future research should seek to more clearly determine advocates' primary motivations and the tactics and actions that ultimately aid or hinder more equitable outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number063006
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2022


  • energy justice
  • energy transitions
  • just transition
  • justice advocacy
  • sustainability transitions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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