Sustainability-Based Framework Development and Specification for Coal Phase-out Policy: Just Transition and Sustainability Requirements in the Canadian Context
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Following the Paris Agreement and the commitment to the NDCs (Nationally Determined Contributions) by its members, Canada has reinforced the engagement with a decrease of fossil fuel consumption through a federal policy to phase-out coal by 2030. This thesis analyzes the necessary sustainability criteria reliant on socio-ecological and economic aspects to assess national coal phase-out policy with particular attention to the Canadian case. The research discusses the specification of essential sustainability-based criteria for national coal phase-out policy with just transition and sustainability requirements and integrates other specific sustainability criteria, illuminated by the Canadian case study. The proposed sustainability framework for coal phase-out policy instruments brings to light the necessity of an integrative approach, embedding essential issues for sustainable national climate change policy such as equity and just transition principles in alliance with environmental requirements. This research identifies the benefits of an integrative and robust sustainability framework to promote environmental progress and equity for transition processes to a low carbon economy. This thesis work aims to answer three central research questions: Firstly, what specific requirements are needed to ensure a coal phase-out policy is aligned with contributions to sustainability, with particular attention to climate change mitigation and just transition? Secondly, what can be learned from coal phase-out experiences already implemented globally in terms of strategies and tools applied, challenges, barriers, and drivers for coal phase-out? Thirdly, how can the characteristics of the Canadian design and implementation of coal phase-out policy inform the development and specification of a sustainability-based framework for informing national coal phase-out policies? To address these questions, the thesis builds on Gibson et al.'s (2005) sustainability assessment framework and adapts it to coal phase-out policies. The resulting framework comprises five key categories: socio-ecological system integrity and compliance with fundamental climate change mitigation objectives, livelihood sufficiency, affordability, equity, and opportunity, social dialogue, participatory decision-making, and democratic governance, Adaptability, precaution, and monitoring for long-term sustainability, and Governance accountability, inter-jurisdictional collaboration, and government support. The framework is tested through application to the Canadian case study, which not only validates and enhances its criteria but also provides context-specific insights. The study emphasizes multi-level governance, inclusive engagement, transition fuel challenges, community vulnerability, and establishment of governance bodies as crucial aspects in coal phase-out policy. In conclusion, this research contributes a holistic sustainability-based framework for assessing and guiding coal phase-out policies. Its application to the Canadian case underscores its practical value while acknowledging the need for context-specific adaptation. By promoting an integrated approach that encompasses social, economic, and environmental dimensions, the framework offers a pathway towards sustainable and equitable coal phase-out, essential for a low carbon future.
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Giulia Ramazzini Salgado Cricenti (2023). Sustainability-Based Framework Development and Specification for Coal Phase-out Policy: Just Transition and Sustainability Requirements in the Canadian Context. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/19972