Spotlight on a Student: Ceren Ayas

Justice in Energy Transitions: How can justice facilitate low-carbon transition?

Ceren Ayas

Ceren Ayas is a undertaking a PhD with Faculty of Arts (School of Social and Political Sciences) and affiliated with the Climate and Energy College and Sustainability Science Lab. Her experience in climate mitigation in Turkey for 12 years throughout her career in European Climate Foundation and WWF was influential in addressing the need for accommodating the justice aspect in the decarbonization process.

What is your research about?
My research focuses on justice in energy transitions. There are important gaps in understanding how the concept of justice has manifested in low-carbon transitions. I am interested in the justice aspect of decarbonization processes, exploring the justice-related gaps in transition scholarship and the political economy beneath the mainstreaming of solar power. I focus on one particular relationship between justice and transition, namely whether and how justice is able to facilitate a low-carbon transition and what we can learn from existing research and practice. To do this, I explore more broadly the relationship between justice and low-carbon transition through review of transition literature. As a second step, I look at the role of justice in historical transition. Finally, I investigate the relationship between the two concepts by focusing on a conducive environment of low-carbon transition within a challenging environment of justice, crystallized in Turkey. Accordingly, I look at the governance of different solar power initiatives as a central case study.

My research provides theoretical and practical insights into how justice is entailed in low-carbon transitions as a key driver. It contributes to translating elements of high penetration of low-carbon technologies into a just transformation process, taking into account burdens of transition communities affected by climate change, technological shifts, social inequality and ecological unity.

Who are your supervisors?
I am fortunate to do my PhD degree under the supervision of Professor Fiona Haines, Dr Sebastian Thomas and Professor John Wiseman whom are internationally recognised experts in various aspects of justice in energy transitions. I am part of an international team of early career researchers who are conducting climate and energy systems research in an interdisciplinary environment through the Climate and Energy College within the University of Melbourne. I am also part of a transdisciplinary applied research group that address the real-world problems posed by global change through the Sustainability Science Lab.

What do you want to do next?
I would like to continue my academic endeavour in the sustainability science field whilst contributing to civic efforts of local communities and organizations to thrive in low-carbon technologies, economies and societies.

Any awards?

I was a recipient of the Postgraduate Climate Change Research Translation Award from the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute in December 2019.

Ceren and her supervisors welcome any enquiries about her research. You can email her at

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