Discover how UNSW researchers are developing a framework for a just climate transition

An overview

Australia's climate transition will have to drastically cut our national emissions. Yet our transition also needs to be fair. This project will develop a social justice framework for the implementation of a zero net emissions climate transition for rural Victoria. This will be the first comprehensive incorporation of social justice framework with detailed mitigation strategies in rural Australia. The research will combine insights from leading Australian and international energy groups and current research to produce valuable inputs into a national just transitions strategy and provide benefits to Industry partners and the sector. The project will significantly contribute to our understanding of a just climate transition.

Research duration: 
2020 - 2023

Lead researcher: 
Jeremy Moss

Partners/collaborators ARC linkage: 
University of Queensland, Hepburn Wind, Samso Energy Academy (Denmark), Renew, Little sketches, Central Victorian GHG Alliance

Funding agency: 
Australian Research Council

Research area: 

UNSW Media and The Conversation

A climate transition will require huge adjustments to our way of life. New technologies, new behaviours and extensive costs for individuals and states. But it also offers opportunities such as a cleaner environment, cheaper energy and increased independence. Yet no matter what combination of these consequences eventuate, what is crucial for this transition is that it be a just transition, one that distributes any cost or benefit to the right groups and in the right way. This research program has several elements.

Major funding

$547,374 ARC funding awarded to develop a social justice framework for the implementation of a zero net emissions climate transition and Australia’s carbon budget.


  • To develop a social justice framework for the implementation of a zero net emissions climate transition for rural Victoria and elsewhere.
  • Partner with leading global and local renewable energy.


This project will have far-reaching social benefits for Australians living in communities that are seeking to move to zero net emissions. A good climate transition strategy should reduce emissions, but must also ensure that the benefits and burdens of that transition are fairly shared within society. This ‘social justice’ dimension is crucial to ensuring that vulnerable individuals and communities are not made worse-off by any transition strategy. This project will deliver a social justice framework for assessing how several rural Victorian communities can satisfy their energy needs and achieve zero emissions in a way that also has social justice benefits. The project will be the first to incorporate robust measures of the social justice benefits of a climate transition in Australia, offering the opportunity to significantly improve Australian’s lives and achieve real benefits for the national community.

Ethics, responsibility & the carbon budget

Research duration: 2018 – 2021

Lead researcher: Jeremy Moss

Partners/collaborators ARC discovery: Prof. Christian Barry (ANU), Prof. John Broom (Oxford), Prof. Garrett Cullity (Adelaide)

Funding agency: Australian Research Council

Website: Practical Justice Initiative

Research area: Philosophy

The aim of this project will be to provide a rigorous ethical framework for dividing the world’s remaining ‘carbon budget’ (CB). The project will develop a new analysis of how our assumptions concerning risk and harm shape our conception of the CB. It will also provide a new understanding of how future emission rights should be allocated given that countries have emitted vastly different quantities of GHGs in the past. Crucially, the project will analyse how the CB will impact the climate transition plans of countries such as Australia.

This project will address key issues for thinking about the carbon budget: is offsetting acceptable, what are the duties of sub state agents (state governments, corporations) and who should bear the costs of transition. The project will also provide innovative solutions to likely obstacles to the implementation of such an account. It will engage with end users through policy briefs and stakeholder workshops.

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