Track 1.9: Social Justice and Decarbonization of Housing

Climate actions are urgent in sectors such as housing and construction – for example in Finland the climate impact represent approximately 30% of total GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions and 40% of total energy use. Full decarbonization of the building stock, advocated also by European Union Green Deal, requires substantial increases in renovation rates, including uptake of mitigation technologies and adaptation to extreme weather events. However, the most critical housing stock regarding climate change mitigation is typically inhabited by the most vulnerable social groups (e.g., elderly, immigrants and unemployed). Climate change impacts induce new, and accelerate existing, challenges in housing (Nielsen & Farrelly 2019; OECD 2018; Lihtmaa et al. 2018), including social and spatial polarization, segregation, energy poverty, socioeconomic inequality, vulnerable position of immigrant groups in housing markets, the aging population, declining property values, and building stock degradation. These parallel challenges, with divergent origins, cause severe social inequalities and slow down building and housing stock decarbonization. Although novel technologies offer hope, growing socio-spatial segregation and the emergence of anti-climate change movements pose major challenges for tackling climate change and social inequalities simultaneously. Such challenges call for diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) oriented consumer research (Arsel, Crockett & Scott 2022).


Track goal 

This track zooms in on the social justice of climate actions from the consumer research point of view. Inclusion of economically and socially vulnerable citizens and communities is crucially important for the implementation and mainstreaming of the socially equitable decarbonization solutions (Syrjälä et al. 2014). By focusing on the social justice, the aim is to develop an inclusive approach that contributes to the equitability of climate change mitigation and adaptation in the context of housing. 
The first task of this track is to scrutinize the existing research literature on justice and climate actions to work with the definition of key concepts. For example, in the sustainability transition research literature, social justice issues have evoked parallel concepts, namely climate, energy and environmental justice (Agyeman et al. 2016; McCauley & Heffron 2018; Schlosberg 2013; Williams & Doyon 2019). In consumer studies, the social justice aspect of environmental issues is discussed mainly in comparison with ethical consumption (Middlemiss 2010; Hall 2013). Also, in this track, the applicability of John Rawls’ (1971) theory of justice as fairness is reviewed. Similarly, we will explore the possibilities of adopting an intersectional approach (Steinfeld et al. 2019) to the just decarbonization of housing.


Plan for a post-conference write-up
Based on the conceptual framework developed as a result of our dialogical engagement in the TCR conference and pre-conference activities, the track participants will work toward publishing scholarly academic work in a consumer research journal. The track co-chairs will organize and manage the writing process of the conceptual article, tentatively titled “Social Justice of Decarbonization of Housing – Consumer Equity and Inclusion”. It will be targeted toward Journal of Business Ethics or similar outlet and submitted for review in September 2023, depending on the TCR special issue possibilities. Given the cross-disciplinary nature of this track, other outlets in the areas of sustainability transition or environmental social sciences may be considered.
At least one place on track membership will be, where possible, allocated to a junior scholar. Also, external stakeholders are welcome to join. 


For queries related to this track please email: Eliisa Kylkilahti at

To apply to this track, please email a Research Vision to Eliisa Kylkilahti at


Arsel, Z., Crockett, D., & Scott, M. L. (2022). Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in the Journal of Consumer Research: A Curation and Research Agenda. Journal of Consumer Research, 48(5), 920-933.
Hall, S. M. (2013). Energy justice and ethical consumption: comparison, synthesis and lesson drawing. Local Environment, 18(4), 422-437.
Lihtmaa, L., Hess, D. B., & Leetmaa, K. (2018). Intersection of the global climate agenda with regional development: Unequal distribution of energy efficiency-based renovation subsidies for apartment buildings. Energy Policy, 119, 327-338.
McCauley, D. & Heffron, R. J. (2018). Just transition: Integrating climate, energy and environmental justice. Energy Policy 119, 1–7.
Middlemiss, L. (2010). Reframing individual responsibility for sustainable consumption: lessons from environmental justice and ecological citizenship. Environmental Values, 19(2), 147-167.
Nielsen, J., & Farrelly, M. A. (2019). Conceptualising the built environment to inform sustainable urban transitions. Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions, 33, 231-248.
OECD 2018. Divided Cities: Understanding Intra-urban Inequalities. Paris: OECD.
Rawls, J. (1971) A Theory of Justice. Harvard University Press, Cambridge.
Schlosberg, D. (2013). Theorising environmental justice: the expanding sphere of a discourse. Environmental Politics 22:1, 37–55.
Steinfield, L., Sanghvi, M., Zayer, L. T., Coleman, C. A., Ourahmoune, N., Harrison, R. L., Hein, W. & Brace-Govan, J. (2019). Transformative intersectionality: Moving business towards a critical praxis. Journal of Business Research, 100, 366-375.
Syrjälä, H. et al. (2014). Money Talks: Reproducing deprivation and empowerment in poverty through discursive practices. In J.W. Schouten, D.M. Martin, R. Belk (Eds.). CCT: Res in Consumer Behavior 16. Bingley: Emerald
Williams S. & Doyon, A. (2019). Justice in energy transitions. Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions 31, 144–153. 

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