International experts convene for major Dundee energy summit

Published on 17 May 2023

Thursday will see the University of Dundee host the first event of its kind, bringing together leading experts to discuss the transition to a low carbon economy.

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The Just Transition, Security and Law Conference takes place at Dundee’s Malmaison Hotel on Thursday 18 and Friday 19 May and continues the work of the University’s Just Transition Hub.

With speakers from more than ten countries involved, the conference is a truly international affair and places Dundee at the centre of the discussion around energy transition and security.

Dr Sufyan El Droubi, Reader in Public International Law at Dundee, is the event organiser and explains the significance of the summit.

What does Just Transition mean?

The expression ‘Just Transition’ refers to the need to ensure justice, fairness in the transition to a low-carbon economy. We in Scotland and people living in countries around the world are in a period of deep social and economic transformation, as we progressively abandon fossil fuels and adopt renewable energy. The transition also involves moving away from what we call “linear economy”, which is marked by the production of high quantities of waste; to a circular economy, which marked by sharing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing, and recycling products. Energy transition and the transition to a circular economy reinforce each other, and enable us to move to a green economy, which uses less energy and the energy that it uses comes from renewable sources.

 What hurdles currently prevent the Just Transition?

One of the main challenges are in terms of investment. The world seems to be living in a never-ending crisis since 2008 – Global Financial Crisis, political crisis, COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Europe and wars in other regions. All this contributed to less money being available for people and governments. The transition requires investment to ensure that we do not create injustices and that we correct at least some of the historical injustices, such as economic inequalities, and energy poverty.

But it also requires, and this another important challenge, that people are engaged. Without people being heard and actively participating, the transition risks being cumbersome and unfair. Evidently, with the rising in cost of living, people may see the transition to a low-carbon economy as something distant, and not being a priority.

So is Just Transition achievable? How will this affect me?

The Scottish Government anticipates that by 2045 oil and gas production in Scotland will be at 3% of the 1999 peak, that we will have reached net zero greenhouse gas emissions and zero emissions from heating systems used in all homes, and Scotland will be producing 25GW of hydrogen.

 The Government anticipates that transition will require some areas of Scotland, for instance, Grangemouth and Shetland to shift investments and employment to the renewable sectors.

It is a difficult task, obviously, and people may see it in different manners. The Just Transition Hub in collaboration with Zero Waste Scotland, is currently conducting a survey about how people in Scotland see the transition. The more people participate, the better we can understand how different individuals and communities see all this. People can participate here.

Just Transition is a main concern of the University and the Just Transition Hub is evidence of that.  We are committed to carrying out research that responds to the challenges of the transition and are working in collaboration with other universities in Scotland, the UK, Europe and beyond, and in close dialogue with civil society organisations, to address the complexity of the problems that the transition brings.

What are the aims of the Just Transition conference?

The conference is an important event that is bringing scholars and practitioners from more than ten countries to discuss the challenges that the transition and security create for law. The event is the first in the world to discuss Just Transition and Security. There are very interesting panels - on Human Rights, Security and Just Transition; on European Perspectives and Latin American Perspectives to Just Transition, on ESG and Just Transition. The event also has two panels fully dedicated to young scholars. This shows the importance that Just Transition is receiving from PhD students, who are the future academics. There will also be a special panel, organised with Zero Waste Scotland, to discuss the interplay between civil society and academia, and explain the research that we are conducting together.


Jonathan Watson

Senior Press Officer

+44 (0)1382 381489