Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2803

Article | Open Access

“Small Sacrifice for the Greater Good”: Decoding Just Transition in a Chinese Peripheral Region

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Abstract:  The notion of just transition is important and debated in discussions about climate change and low‐carbon shifts. This study aims to refocus on just transition from a spatial perspective. We investigate perceptions in Chun’an, Zhejiang, to redefine just transition beyond Western ideas. Our case offers one key yet under‐explored dimension in the interpretation of justice: spatial scale. First, the green transition of Chun’an can be regarded both as a sacrifice of economy from a local perspective (Chun’an county) and as a valuable social contribution from a broader regional perspective (Hangzhou city area). Second, the multi‐scalar interaction of the transition process shapes the perceptions of justice. It is represented by the growing local tensions between developmentalism and environmentalism. Such a process is aimed at generating a wider scale of well‐being, contributing to a process of/for justice. We argue just transition is about a spatially sensitive process towards (rather than of) justice. In China, realizing transition is the way towards justice, and justice itself is transition in the long run.

Keywords:  China; Chinese periphery; just transition; multi‐scalarity; perceptions; transition practices



© Xiaohui Hu, Wu Tang, Xuliang Zhang, Dongzheng Jie. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.