Just Transition

Just Transition intends to counter the idea that valuing social aspects of sustainable development (economic, social, and environmental) and caring for the environment are mutually exclusive goals.

The EU’s climate ambition in the context of the EGD (-55% in 2030 and Net Zero in 2050) will have social impacts and the EU is trying to make this transition fair, leaving no one behind. One key element in garnering support for such rapid environmental transition is to show that there is a good understanding of the impacts of the measures that are being designed to move towards a low GHG economy and that there is a plan to mitigate social and economic impacts during the period of transition.

ERCST started by identifying the two types of social impacts caused by the green transition:

  • Regional: certain energy-intensive sectors and regions in the EU will indeed have an irreversible decline in economic output and employment level. In such context, the need will be to offer state support to affected workers and communities
  • Systemic and distributional: increased energy and transport costs may lead to energy poverty and mobility challenges (if not to social unrest). In such context, there will be the need for a call for justice in general terms (considering equity as an integral part in the transition process to a low-carbon society, addressing the roots of inequality)

Having assessed the different types of social impacts of the transition, ERCST’s work focuses on exploring Just Transition issues at the European, International and Corporate levels:

  • EU Level: setting a stronger, strengthened EU governance, with the capability of being granular, effective, and flexible at the same time. Indeed, a lesson learned so far, is that there is a need for stronger governance with procedural justice.
  • Global Level: countries are increasingly committing to net zero targets without properly incorporating the social dimension in their national transition strategies and/or NDCs. At the same time, countries should draw on successful models and lessons learnt from existing Just Transition initiatives and plans in other jurisdictions.
  • Corporate Level: a Just Transition cannot stand alone without corporate action. Profound corporate level changes will entail deep structural changes in employment patterns and spatial distribution. Corporate Just Transition should be based on social dialogue between workers, their unions, and principally the employers.

A strong coordination and coherence of climate, economic and social policies is indispensable. If well managed, climate action can be a pathway for reduced inequality and greater social inclusion.

Therefore, in 2022, ERCST will continue to strive to increase the understanding of this issue among different stakeholder groups by providing research and intellectual output while in parallel regularly convening workshops with policymakers, industry and other stakeholders to reflect on key issues and elements identified by ERCST.


Marina Monciatti (mmonciatti@ercst.org)



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