Fair transition to net zero
IPPR identified four lessons that the UK can learn from other countries about a fair transition to net zero, based on experiences of industrial transitions in Germany, Sweden, Canada and the US:
- Development of a positive vision: Plans need to journey towards something positive, not just away from something negative. There must be a desirable future that feels like progress which workers, communities and the public can buy into.
- Engagement: Engage with the workers and communities who are affected. A just transition must be something workers and communities feel as if they have a stake in; something that is done ‘with’ and ‘by’ them rather than ‘to’ and ‘for’ them.
- Co-design and co-production: Governments, businesses, workers and unions, civil society and local communities need to co-design and co-produce transition plans. Coordination between stakeholders is crucial to make sure that everyone’s goals are aligned.
- Funding isn’t everything, but it is essential: Substantial funding is not a sufficient condition but it is necessary for a just transition. Plans, targets, engagement and collaboration are essential but will go nowhere without meaningful funding to enact them.
The Scottish government commissioned a report for its Just Transition Commission, looking at how far five countries (the US, Canada, Germany, Norway and Peru) have gone in terms of embedding the broad principles implied by ‘just transition’ in their plans, strategies, policies, and activities, as well as lessons from other countries about how to achieve structural change, particularly around land use, tenure, and ownership, in the context of carbon emissions reduction efforts. Among other lessons identified, it recommended that a just transition must distribute the benefits and burdens of transition equally across the population, based on ‘effective forms of procedural and distributive justice’ that focus not just on fossil fuel workers but to wider vulnerable populations, as well as addressing gender, racial and class disparities and redressing ‘systemic injustices that exist under the current fossil fuel dependent social, political and economic paradigm’.