Call for papers – Just Transitions and Rural Environmental Justice in Europe

November 28, 2023 - Categorised in: -

Call for Papers – POLLEN 2024 Conference (Lund, 10-12 June 2024)


Convenors: Mathilde Gingembre (UEA affiliate) and Brendan Coolsaet  (UCLouvain)

Across disciplines, research into the impact of climate and environmental policies is highlighting the uneven distribution of the environmental effort (Deldrève et al. 2021, Peñasco et al. 2021). While North/South inequalities have legitimately dominated climate justice literature (eg. Sultana, 2022), this panel proposes to explore the issues of justice and equity posed by environmental action within European countries, with a focus on rural populations.

Despite the central place of rural spaces in green transition efforts (afforestation, rewilding, landscape restoration, transition to organic farming, renewable energy development, etc), they are mostly overlooked by “Just Transition” policies (and literature). Yet,  in view of the land-intensive needs of green capitalism and of the greenhouse gas reduction targets imposed on land-based sectors (Dooley et al. 2018), scholars have warned of the disproportionate burden that may be borne by rural populations in the race to net zero (Borras and Franco 2018). Whilst rural areas are already amongst the most vulnerable to environmental degradation (Austin et al. 2020, Dasgupta et al. 2014), spatial characteristics of rural life, such as the distance to urban and service centers, reinforce the unequal distributional impact of climate policy measures such as carbon taxes (Burke 2020).

In a context where feelings of “left-behindness” (Rodriguez-Pose 2017) are instrumentalised by authoritarian, anti-green parties, a better recognition of the complexity of rural subjectivities and lived experiences of green transitions is key to advancing plural, just and sustainable futures (Walker et al 2018).  Environmental economists who have looked at peoples’ perceptions of climate measures along an urban/rural gradient, have established a higher scepticism of rural citizens to climate policies (Mittenzwei et al. 2023, Ewald et al. 2021, Bonnie et al. 2020). Recent environmental justice research into rural landscape transformations have, for their part, stressed the degree of contention that characterise justice claims within unequal, power-laden rural populations (Brown et al forthcoming).

In this panel, we are interested in exploring the articulations between rurality and environmental justice in the context of ecological transitions in Europe. When the rural does feature in environmental justice literature, it predominantly does so as a contextual variable, as opposed to an ideology and materiality that may inform environmental justice claims, narratives and struggles (Ashwood and Tarrow 2016, Pellow 2016).  To address this gap and explore issues of “rural environmental justice”, we invite contributions that address the following questions: Are there “rural justice” claims, narratives and conflicts emerging in response to climate mitigation and conservation agendas? To what extent are these embedded within older environmental justice struggles related to rural areas’ disproportionate exposure to environmental harms? What are these claims and conflicts? How are they constructed? What dimensions of rurality and injustice do they stress? Who promotes them? Are they voiced and heard in decision-making circles?

The panel will be hosted in Lund but could host remote presentations. If interested, please submit your proposal (title, maximum 250 words abstract, authors’ names and institutional affiliation) by 10 December 2023 to and to Selected authors will be informed by 13 December 2023 and the full panel proposal will be submitted to the POLLEN secretariat  by 15 December 2023.


Austin, E. et al. (2020) ‘Concerns about climate change among rural residents in Australia’, J.Rural Studies 75, 98-109.

Bonnie, R., Diamond, E. P., & Rowe, E. (2020) ‘Understanding Rural Attitudes Toward the Environment and Conservation in America’. Ni R 20-03.

Borras, S. M., & Franco, J. C. (2018) ‘The challenge of locating land-based climate change mitigation and adaptation politics within a social justice perspective: towards an idea of agrarian climate justice’, Third World Quarterly, 39(7).

Brown, D. Barnaud, C., Coolsaet, B. Darmet, L. Gingembre M., Harmáčková, Z. Martin, A. Nohlová, B. (forthcoming) ‘Conceptualising rural environmental justice in Europe in an age of climate-influenced landscape transformations’, paper submitted in June 2023 to the Journal of Rural Studies.

Burke J, Fankhauser S, Kazaglis A, Kessler L, Khandelwal N, Bolk J, O’Boyle P and Owen A (2020) Distributional impacts of a carbon tax in the UK: Report 2 – Analysis by income decile, London: Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment and Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy, London School of Economics and Political Science, and Vivid Economics.

Dasgupta, P., Morton, J., Dodman, D., Karapinar, B., Meza, F., Rivera-Ferre, M., Sarr, A.T., Vincent, K.E., Carr, E. Raholijao, N. and Broecker, H. (2015) ‘Rural Areas’, International Development, Community, and Environment. 87,

Deldrève, V., Candeau, J., Noûs C. (dir.), (2021) Effort environnemental et équité : les politiques publiques de l’eau et de la biodiversité en France, Bruxelles : Peter Lang, 525p.

Dooley, K., Christoff, P. and Nicholas, K. A. (2018) ‘Co-producing climate policy and negative emissions: Trade-offs for sustainable land-use’. Global Sustainability.

Ewald, J., Sterner, T., & Sterner, E. (2022) ‘Understanding the resistance to carbon taxes: Drivers and barriers among the general public and fuel-tax protesters’, Resource and Energy Economics, 70.

Mittenzwei, K., Gustavsen, G. W., Grimsrud, K., Lindhjem, H., & Bjørkhaug, H. (2023) ‘Perceived effects of climate policy on rural areas and agriculture: A rural-urban- divide’. Journal of Rural Studies, 100 (March).

Murphy, S. P., Cannon, S., & Walsh, L. (2022) ‘Just transition frames: Recognition, representation, and distribution in Irish beef farming’. Journal of Rural Studies, 94 (June), pp. 150–160.

Pellow, D. N. (2016). ‘Environmental justice and rural studies: A critical conversation and invitation to collaboration’, In Journal of Rural Studies, 47, pp. 381–386.

Peñasco, C., Anadón, L. D., andVerdolini, E. (2021) ‘Systematic review of the outcomes and trade-offs of ten types of decarbonization policy instruments’, Nature Climate Change, 11:3.

Puupponen, A., Lonkila, A., Savikurki, A., Karttunen, K., Huttunen, S., & Ott, A. (2022). ‘Finnish dairy farmers’ perceptions of justice in the transition to carbon-neutral farming’, Journal of Rural Studies, 90.

Rodríguez-Pose, A. (2018) ‘The revenge of the places that don’t matter (and what to do about it)’, Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society, 11: 1.

Sultana, F. (2022) ‘Critical climate justice’,  Geographical Journal, 188: 1.

Walker, C., Mason, S., & Bednar, D. (2018) ‘Sustainable development and environmental injustice in rural Ontario, Canada: Cases of Wind energy and biosolid processing’, The Journal of Rural and Community Development,13:2, pp. 110–129.

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