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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

Trinidad and Tobago beyond fossil fuels: A just transition

With the global urgency to combat climate change, transitioning away from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources has become crucial. However, fossil fuel-dependent economies, such as that of Trinidad and Tobago (T&T), may face significant socio-economic challenges in adjusting to this change. A transition that negatively impacts people’s rights to livelihoods and development cannot be considered “just.” Therefore, an energy transition plan for T&T must consider dimensions of justice to ensure that affected communities are adequately supported.

A review of literature pertaining to the transition in T&T highlighted the need for transition planning to encompass a wider range of stakeholders and considerations as opposed to a “labour-oriented” approach. Additionally, more complex interventions were deemed to be required to align with the overarching principle of “leaving no one behind.” To bridge this gap, this research utilises a systems-thinking (ST) approach.

This study seeks to provide insights and recommendations to achieve the energy aspirations in T&T by defining a Just Energy Transition (JET), identifying the benefits and opportunities it can bring, and examining barriers and potential pitfalls while proposing approaches to overcome them.

This research utilises existing literature to understand JET concepts and interviews with key stakeholders to explore implementation challenges specific to T&T. The use of interviews facilitated a richer understanding of the energy transition in T&T compared to utilising literature alone. This study adopts a ST approach in the form of a Causal Loop Diagram (CLD) to better understand the interconnections of T&T’s current energy system.

This research highlighted that the scale and nature of the problem for T&T requires more radical structural reform and transformative approaches that challenge the status quo. The findings strengthen the idea that fossil fuel-dependent countries such as T&T need to pursue economic diversification, while taking into consideration the need for strong and courageous leadership to drive this change. Overall, the results of this research contribute to understanding the complexities and scale of the challenge for achieving a JET in T&T.



Course Overview


The need to engage in better problem definition through careful dialogue with all stakeholder groups and a proper recognition of context.


An ability to work with specialists from other disciplines and professional groups acknowledging that technical innovation and business skills also must be understood, nurtured and combined as precursors to the successful implementation of sustainable solutions.


An understanding of mechanisms for managing change in organisations so future engineers are equipped to play a leadership role.


An awareness of a range of assessment frameworks, sustainability metrics and methodologies such as Life Cycle Analysis, Systems Dynamics, Multi-Criteria Decision making and Impact Assessment.