Blogs and Think Pieces
New Zealand is about to embark on a transition to a low-carbon economy. It’s one of the most important transitions we will make, and it has to be done well. Our lives literally depend on it.
Tackling the imminent impacts of climate change will take a profound transformation that is able not only to accelerate decarbonization but also to overcome entrenched inequalities that leave people who least contributed to climate change at the greatest risk from its impacts. Linking the concepts of Just Transition and transformative change could present a progressive way forward.
Reliant on heavy industry and coal-fuelled electricity, South Africa is one of the most carbon intense economies in the world. The Government has made commitments to reduce carbon emissions but is simultaneously promoting the expansion of coal. As resistance to coal is growing, a transformative approach to Just Transition has the potential to overcome differences that currently constrain unified action.
A Just Transition is needed across the globe — but most discussions so far focus on the Global North. We want to break this silo and propose a set of guiding principles for a Just Transition with a particular focus on the Global South. These principles could serve as a shared value base for building new Just Transition alliances, covering a broad range of stakeholders, including civil society.
We have recently entered a period of deep contestation over the ownership and meaning of Just Transition. It is, therefore, important to think about it systematically so that we can, at the very least, differentiate initiatives that co-opt and dilute its promise from initiatives that contribute to a global politics of social and ecological emancipation.
If a productive, equitable outcome for all workers is the goal of a Just Transition, then we must look beyond the immediate impacts on fossil fuel workers and consider who else may be vulnerable. Failing to put equity considerations first can result in Just Transition policies that ignore the people most in need of support.
Some effects of climate change — such as extreme weather, including droughts or flooding — are unavoidable, even if greenhouse gas emissions are reduced. Adapting to these effects, rather than suffering them, is a necessity. Trade unions should be more aware of climate change adaptation, and should include it when they bargain with employers or the state.
Societal transitions towards a new energy regime are underway in order to shift society back towards a more sustainable state of functioning. However, this pathway is not without trade-offs and equity challenges, related not only to the future distribution and production of energy from renewable energy sources, but also for communities that have supported the prior energy regime.
The Just Transition(s) Online Forum is an initiative of the Just Transition Research Collaborative that collects stories on the Just Transition to low-carbon development. Bringing together a range of experts working on different aspects of this transition, it showcases different case studies, narratives and approaches to the Just Transition and their implications for equity and social justice.
We are living in a time of rapid change, driven by increasing digitization and disruption of many of the institutions and relationships around which we structure our societies and our lives. In this first think piece in the From Disruption to Transformation? Linking Technology and Human Rights for Sustainable Development series, Kelly Stetter reflects on the role of international human rights frameworks in addressing these challenges and ensuring that no one is left behind.