Towards a zero-carbon economy that benefits workers and communties

Anna Triponel

April 19, 2021
Our key takeaway: Just transition is possible because it’s happening. It needs to integrate social dialogue with people across the community who are impacted when a major local industry closes, beyond immediate workers, and consider how taxes from fossil fuel industries will be replaced.

World Resources Institute (WRI) is tracking just transition snapshots from around the world, and finds that:

  • There are a number of examples of just transition processes that are happening around the world, building on dialogue and proactive planning focused on entire communities – beyond workers. This ensures that people who depend on fossil fuel-intensive activities receive the support, social protection and investments they need, and that the costs and benefits of climate action are distributed equitably. There is a need to encompass a full range of people – including workers in local businesses that sell products and services to fossil fuel companies to the grocery stores clerks and café baristas who serve that sector’s workers and their families. People across the community are impacted when a major local industry closes.
  • Just transition needs to also address taxes. Taxes paid by fossil fuel-intensive companies and their workers often make up a significant share of public budgets, funding essential services like road maintenance and schools. A just transition entails making sure that important revenue streams that local governments receive from fossil fuel production will be replaced in equitable ways, and that companies are positioned to create decent jobs and economic growth while contributing to climate action.
  • Specific focus needs to be placed on large clean energy projects, that are not always equitable by default. Renewable energy developments (solar and wind farms) often require large amounts of resources, including big swaths of land. Land must be acquired through a fair process that respects the rights of marginalized communities such as poor or indigenous communities. Focus also needs to be placed on ensuring that renewable energy creates quality, accessible jobs, especially since large developments are often built in areas with relatively low-skilled workforces. Further, many countries with high renewable energy potential have insufficient social safety nets and workplace protections.

For more, see Leah Lazer, A Just Transition to a Zero-carbon World Is Possible. Here’s How (April 2021, WRI)

See also the Just Transition and Equitable Climate Action Resource Center (WRI)

Just transition examples highlighted by the World Resources Institute, Just Transition and Equitable Climate Action Resource Center (WRI)

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