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Policies designed to hasten the closure of high-emissions coal-fired power stations routinely include reference to the need for a ‘just’ transition in affected communities. But the detail of what a just transition might entail is rarely specified. This article examines how policy interventions in Australia in 2012–2013, as part of the Gillard government’s Clean Energy Future package, approached the problem of a just transition in the case of Victoria’s coal dependent Latrobe Valley. It describes how policymakers framed the issue as transition, adopted a regional scaling, and expanded the territorial arena of policy action. A stakeholder-based multilevel governance committee shrouded this top-down decision-making from public scrutiny. These moves made it possible to conjure a narrative of benign transition governed by market processes. The paper explains how these strategic framings sidelined local interests, misrepresented the issues, exacerbated local disempowerment, and enabled the redirection of re-distributional funding to communities that were not directly affected by the impending closure of coal-fired power stations. The perceived injustice of this process exposes the limitations of climate policy-related strategic issue, scale and place framing.


Institute for Religion, Politics, and Society

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Journal Article

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