Assistant Professor, University of South Carolina School of Law

Ann M. Eisenberg

Interviewer: Shelley Welton, Interview date: February 14, 2020

“More and more people are waking up to the fact that the need for decarbonization is more urgent than we may have realized … [So] it becomes clear that we need a massive restructuring of society which is going to have a lot of fall out … The idea of a ‘just transition’ is that we want to acknowledge and address those issues of unfairness …”

 “’Just transition’ is a term of art that evolved out of labor activism. … It’s under this environmental umbrella but is mostly about labor and economic equity, which environmental theory has not been particularly strong on historically. … I have often focused on Appalachian communities that were historically dependent on coal or still are. … Similar considerations apply to coal-dependent communities in western states as well.”

 “[Single-employer] economies are [generally] not sustainable. … Worker retraining doesn’t necessarily account for where new jobs are going to be, or whether people want those new jobs. … In my view, what needs to happen is to recognize that these communities have experienced a form of non-development for decades…, which should involve a combination of planning, economic diversification, building the capacity of regional institutions like local governments, enhancing educational opportunities more broadly, and efforts to counteract the heightened risk of poverty for communities in decline.”


Ann Eisenberg is a professor of law at the University of South Carolina School of Law, where her research examines environmental and criminal decision-making processes, with a focus on law and the urban-rural divide.

To learn more about Ann Eisenberg, please visit her home page: HERE

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