Why we need a Just Transition

Shaping our shared future

While many people support taking action on climate change, this support is not universal and the aspiration is not reflected in current policy decisions and implementation. Successfully transitioning to low-carbon economic and industrial systems will require context-appropriate solutions and creating the right conditions for change.

The decisions we make now will have a significant impact on our shared future. Current and ongoing low-carbon transitions will have different outcomes depending on what we priorities. Emphasis on technology, renewables, industry, or social justice could very well shape our trajectory, and determine the limiting of climate change while having significant effects on the type of development that occurs.

Without proper planning, management, and political and social support, transitioning to low-carbon systems could result in widespread job losses, economic hardship, and increased inequality for vulnerable groups. This risk is particularly high for those working in sectors such as energy supply and production, agriculture, and industry, but it could have negative effects on society as a whole. It is important to consider the potential impacts of low-carbon development and create policies that support a just transition for all.

In the past decade, trade unions, labour organisations, and governments have increasingly used the term Just Transition to underline the significance of protecting workers’ rights and the socioeconomic well-being of communities while phasing out fossil fuels. In 2015, the International Labour Organization (ILO)’s governing body adopted a set of non-legally binding guidelines for a just transition aimed at workers affected by energy and climate policies. These guidelines prescribe that a Just Transition should ensure the protection of fundamental rights, maximise decent work, create (green) jobs that accommodate displaced workers, provide localized solutions, and reduce gender biases and other inequalities.