John Barry - Just transition: a conflict transformation approach

Posted on Thursday, 21 March 2024
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Our 2023 Annual Social Policy Conference was on the theme of 'A Just Transition'. The fundamental principle of a Just Transition is to leave no people, communities, economic sectors or regions behind as we transition to a low carbon future. Such a transition means changing how we travel, communicate, work, what we eat, wear and even the entertainment we consume. A Just Transition requires that we fairly share both the benefits and challenges of our new way of living. In order to transform how our society and economy operate, we must invest in effective and integrated social protection systems, education, training and lifelong learning, childcare, out of school care, health care, long term care and other quality services. Social investment must be a top priority if those people, communities, economic sectors and regions who are most affected are to be supported as we make the difficult transition to a carbon neutral economy.

Just Transition Dialogue

John Barry is a father, a recovering politician and Professor of Green Political Economy in the Centre for Sustainability, Equality and Climate Action at Queens University Belfast.  He is also co-chair of the Belfast Climate Commission, a member of the Committee on Climate Change’s Economics Advisory Group on Adaptation and Resilience, and member of the Sustainable Future Committee of the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust. What keeps him awake at night is the life opportunities and future wellbeing of his and other children in this age of the planetary emergency and intersecting social and economic injustices within and between countries.  What also keeps him awake at night is the following question: why it is easier for most people to believe in the end of the world than the end of capitalism and economic growth.   

His areas of academic-activist research include post-growth and heterodox political economy; decarbonisation and decolonisation; the politics, policy and political economy of climate breakdown and climate resilience; socio-technical analyses of low carbon just energy and sustainability transitions; climate injustice-based nonviolent direct action and social mobilisation; and the overlap between conflict transformation and these sustainability and energy transformations.  

His last book was The Politics of Actually Existing Unsustainability: Human Flourishing in a Climate-Changed, Carbon-Constrained World (2012, Oxford University Press), and he is currently writing a book provisionally entitled, The Greatest Story never told?: The origins, tyranny and end of ecocidal economic growth (Agenda Publishers). 

John presented his paper, 'Just transition: a conflict transformation approach' at our 2023 Annual Social Policy Conference which can be read HERE and his presentation can be accessed HERE.