Paying the Piper for the Green Transition? Perceptions of Unfairness From Regional Employment Declines in Carbon-polluting Industrial Sectors

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I study if industrial decarbonisation yields elevated perceptions of political and economic unfairness. Decarbonising industry is central for the Green Transition, but it will disproportionately affect regions where brown sectors, which have been made uncompetitive, are concentrated. I contribute to studies on political consequences of the Green Transition by exploring perceived unfairness as one outcome from these uneven effects. In regions where industrial decarbonisation and employment declines in brown sectors have been greater than in other regions, residents may feel that they have disproportionately borne the economic costs of industrial decarbonisation for their country, and may consider their governments to have neglected their interests. I test these expectations in 60 West European regions using past (2013–2018) employment and CO2 emissions trends from the three most carbon-polluting sectors, as proxies for industrial decarbonisation accompanied by employment declines in brown sectors, and combined them with micro-level data from the European Social Survey (2018). I find that regions exhibit elevated perceptions of economic and political unfairness only when they experience both relative CO2 emissions and employment decline in these sectors. As perceived unfairness underpins some of the political discontent observed today, this finding highlights the need for Green Transition policies that minimise labour market disruptions.
TidsskriftJournal of European Public Policy
Udgave nummer6
Sider (fra-til)1620-1646
Antal sider27
StatusUdgivet - jun. 2024

Bibliografisk note

Published online: 16 January 2024


  • Political discontent
  • Green transition
  • Comparative politics
  • Unfairness
  • Decarbonisation
  • Just transition