The latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change emphasizes the need for immediate action to protect the climate and lays out detailed strategies for how to do it. The report includes a lengthy analysis of ‘just transitions’ in countering climate change. A just transition could entail that
the state intervenes more actively in the eradication of poverty, and creates jobs in lower-carbon sectors, in part to compensate for soon-to-be abandoned fossil-fuel-based sectors, and that governments, polluting industries, corporations and those more able to pay higher associated taxes pay for transition costs, provide a welfare safety net and adequate compensation for people, communities, places, and regions that have been impacted by pollution, marginalized or negatively impacted by a transition from a high- to low-carbon economy and society.
The just transition concept has become
an international focal point tying together social movements, trade unions, and other key stakeholders to ensure equity is better accounted for in low-carbon transitions and to seek to protect workers and communities.
According to the IPCC, “just transition” also forms a central pillar of the growing movement for a “Green New Deal”—a “roadmap for a broad spectrum of policies, programs, and legislation that aims to rapidly decarbonize the economy while significantly reducing economic inequality.”
The US Green New Deal Resolution for example positions structural inequality, poverty mitigation, and a just transition at its center. In 2019, the European Green Deal proposed including a UDF100 billion “Just Transition Mechanism” to mitigate the social effects of transitioning away from jobs in fossil based industries. National level green new deals with strong just transition components have been proposed in South Korea, Australia, Spain, UK, Puerto Rico, Canada, as well as regional proposals across Latin America and the Caribbean.
The report provides a list of organizations supporting just transition, including the Labor Network for Sustainability.
The report treats a just transition as part of the broader question of climate equity. Its section on “Equity in a just transition” says,
Looking at climate change from a justice perspective means placing the emphasis on a) the protection of vulnerable populations from the impacts of climate change; b) mitigating the effects of the transformations themselves, including easing the transition for those whose livelihoods currently rely on fossil fuel-based sectors; and c) envisaging an equitable decarbonized world. Neglecting issues of justice risks a backlash against climate action generally, particularly from those who stand to lose from such actions.
For the report:
Climate Change 2022: Mitigation of Climate Change
WORKING GROUP III CONTRIBUTION
TO THE IPCC SIXTH ASSESSMENT REPORT (AR6)
Section 4.5, “Equity, including just transitions,” starts on page 4-99.