Recommended reading on just transition
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1. Eight steps for a just transition
Alexandru Mustata, Bankwatch Romania. 2017.
Just transition is a development model based on locally designed public policies to create the context for a fair income and a decent life for all workers and communities affected by pollution reduction measures. This guide offers some pointers for initiating a just transition process, including:
- understanding the concept,
- choosing an area,
- knowing the potential,
- decision-maker agreement,
- community consultation,
- success stories,
- support from the centre,
- identifying financial instruments.
2. Reflection on Strategic Options for Post-Mining Development in Central Europe. Post-Mining, transition, diversification (book)
Peter Wirth, Barbara Černič Mali, Wolfgang Fischer (Editors). 2012.
This book looks at several post-mining regions in Western and Eastern Europe, including the Steirische Eisenstraße (Styrian Iron Route) in Austria, the Czech lignite region Sokolov-východ, the Mansfeld-Südharz copper region and the Zwickau-Oelsnitz coal region in Germany, the brown coal region of Salgótarján in Hungary, and the Zasavje coal region in Slovenia.
The text has a very wide scope, from systematising knowledge on post-mining transition, to presenting the regions taken up for discussion, introducing good practice cases from Central and Eastern Europe, discussing the regions’ ‘natural potential’ and ‘cultural potential’ and how to integrate them, and discussing the prospects and possibilities of the post-mining regions.
3. Lessons from previous ‘coal transitions’. (report)
Climate Strategies, IDDRI. 2017.
The report provides a summary of lessons from six historical case studies of regional coal mining transitions that have occurred or are ongoing in Europe and the United States in recent decades.
These case studies and this report were developed as part of a broader project led by IDDRI (the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations) and Climate Strategies, entitled ‘Coal Transitions: Research and Dialogue on the Future of Coal’. This project seeks to utilise these historical lessons to facilitate the development of feasible coal transition scenarios in large coal producing countries today.
Find more materials at coaltransitions.org
4. The new social contract: A Just Transition. (report)
Change Partnership & The Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS). 2016.
The authors examine three case studies of the coal and steel sectors from North Rhine Westphalia in Germany, the UK and Bilbao in the Basque region of Spain.These regional transitions are important because change will impact on these regions either directly through environmental catastrophe or evolving socio-economic models. Each story highlights marked differences in the approach, ownership and legacy of regional rejuvenation. Each region’s approach gives powerful insights on the need to realign EU, national and regional transition policy, the Multiannual Financial Framework, regional policy, the Covenant of Mayors, clean energy and climate policy to empower leaders. According to the authors, the key issues analysed are:
- Models to organise change at a regional, national and EU level
- Means to finance transition
- How to ensure delivery of key outcomes.
5. Good Practice Guidelines: Boosting the regeneration process of Europe’s coalfield regions. (study)
A collection of good practices from mining regions engaging in Just Transition, compiled as part of the RECORE programme (“Regenerating Europe’s Coalfield regions”), an initiative of Euracom (European Coal-mining Association).
The study presents mining regions in seven countries (The Czech Republic, France, Germany, Poland, Spain, Russia and the Ukraine), followed by good practices from each of the regions presented. The examples of good practices are broken down by thematic categories including retraining of work force, foreign investments, environmental protection, cultural heritage etc. Contact persons for each of the cases highlighted as good practice are included.
6. Global Mining: It’s Not Over When It’s Over: Mine Closure around the World. (paper)
World Bank. 2002.
An overview of global mine closures from the World Bank, discussing main issues facing the regions where mines are closing, presenting a good practice case – the Sullivan mine in northwest Canada, and giving recommendations to the various actors involved.
7. Strengthening Just Transition Policies in International Climate Governance (paper)
Anabella Rosemberg (ITUC). The Stanley Foundation’s Policy Analysis Brief. 2017.
This policy analysis brief provides some context and history to the concept of just transition, elaborates on its key policies, and examines how it could be further incorporated into international climate change policy. It also aims at providing a stepping-stone for broader engagement by the climate community on this issue.
8. Fossil Fuel Subsidy Reform and the Just Transition: Integrating approaches for complementary outcomes (paper)
Philip Gass, Daniella Echeverria (IISD)
The report explores a number of reasons for a framework, including alignment of the objectives of FFSR and just transition and, very importantly, FFSR’s ability to unlock revenues for implementing just transition.
It goes into detail about the various ways in which FFSR can be consistent with just transition. The scale of current fossil fuel subsidies in the world coupled with the massive financial needs for transition are early indicators of the benefits of approaching FFSR with just transition in mind. Leveraging this misspent finance to support just transition is just one of many ways in which these issues can coalesce.
9. Climate change and labour: The need for a “just transition”
Anabella Rosemberg (ITUC). International Journal of Labour Research 2010 Vol. 2 Issue 2, p. 125-162, International Labour Office, Geneva, 2010.
Worldwide, trade unions have developed a point of view on the issue that is encapsulated by the concept of “Just Transition”, the notion that the transition process to a greener economy has to be inclusive of all stakeholders, and that the unavoidable employment and social costs of the transition have to be shared by all. Because one thing is sure: if the transition to a greener economy generates employment, it will also entail job losses for some.
It can be said that the notion of Just Transition is in line with the longstanding philosophy that has inspired the creation and the history of the International Labour Organization: the idea that social concerns have to be part and parcel of economic decision-making, that the costs of economic transition should be socialized as much as possible, and that the economic management of the economy is best achieved when there is genuine social dialogue between social partners. The last contribution to this issue documents how ILO standards can support the development of a Just Transition approach; it also opens an interesting window for a greater role for the ILO in defining the policies needed to deal with climate change.
We thus hope this issue will prove useful to trade unions and further stimulate discussions about how they can play a constructive role in the policy-making around the question of climate change.
10. “Just Transition” – Just What Is It? (US focus)
Labour Network for Sustainability. Strategic Practice.
The “just transition” frame is being used by an increasing number of organizing networks, grassroots organizations, groups affiliated with organized labor, and environmental organizations. This report aims to assess the notion of just transition, how it is being used, what kinds of ideas and approaches are surfacing for short and long-term strategies, and what kinds of relationships groups are developing in pursuit of a just transition. Its purpose is to open a broad and respectful discussion about the varied ways the “just transition” frame is being used, and whether they can contribute to a shared vision of how to make the transition we face a just transition.
11. Global labour unions and just transition to a green economy (int’l unions focus)
Dimitris Stevis, Romain Felli. International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics. 2015.
Questions of justice in the transition to a green economy have been raised by various social forces. Very few proposals, however, have been as focused and developed as the “just transition” strategy proposed by global labour unions. Yet, labour unions are remarkably absent from discussions of the transition towards a green economy. This is surprising as labour unions are arguably the largest organizations in the world fighting for basic rights and more just social relations. This paper tries to advance the potential contribution of labour unions in this arena by asking: what is the full scope of “just transition” today and how have labour unions developed and refined it over the years to render the move towards a green economy both environmentally and socially sustainable? The concept of just transition is hotly debated within labour unions and has different interpretations, and hence different strategies. The last section assesses these interpretations by means of a normative framework, which seeks to fuse political economy and political ecology. Empirically, we add to the growing literature on labour environmentalism, as well as transitions more generally. Analytically, our goal is to place the various approaches to a “just transition” within a heuristic framework of environmental justice that is explicit about power relations when demanding justice, two themes central to this special issue.
12. The political economy of just transition.
Peter Newell. Dustin Mulvaney. The Geographical Journal. 2013.
This paper explores the political economy of the ‘just transition’ to a low carbon economy. The idea of a ‘just transition’ increasingly features in policy and political discourse and appeals to the need to ensure that efforts to steer society towards a lower carbon future are underpinned by attention to issues of equity and justice: to those currently without access to reliable energy supplies and living in energy poverty and to those whose livelihoods are affected by and dependent on a fossil fuel economy. To complicate things further this transition has to be made compatible with the pursuit of ‘climate justice’ to current and future generations exposed to the social and ecological disruptions produced by increasing concentrations of greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere. Here we seek to identify and analyse the immensely difficult political trade-offs that will characterise collective attempts to enact and realise a just transition. We explore procedural and distributional aspects of energy politics and practice in particular as they relate to the just transition: energy access for those who do not have it; justice for those who work within and are affected by the fossil fuel economy; and attempts to manage the potential contradictions that might flow from pursuing energy and climate justice simultaneously.
13. Alternative visions of a ‘just transition’ from fossil fuel capitalism
Jacklyn Cock. Rosa Luxemburg Shtiftung South Africa. 2015.
This paper argues that confronting the deepening ecological crisis in a just transition could contain the embryo of a democratic eco-socialist future. The core of eco-socialism is to link the principles of ecological sustainability and social justice. This implies that the socialist emphasis on collective ownership and democratic control of production needs to be connected to a number of other alternative concepts such as food sovereignty. New social forms are emerging from the margins of South African society around these concepts, involving grass-root networks marked by relations of reciprocity, cooperation and solidarity. They embody fragments of a vision of an alternative postcapitalist future.
14. What is the ‘Just Transition’?
Raphael Heffron, Darren McCauley. Geoforum. January 2018.
The ‘just transition’ is a concept receiving more attention in the literature to-date. This critical review discusses this and how there are overlaps with literature on energy, environmental and climate justice. Within the separate energy, environment and climate change scholar communities, there is too much distortion of what the ‘transition’ means and what ‘justice’ means, and they all should be understood within the just transition concept. To increase public understanding and public acceptance of a just transition, these research communities need to unite rather than continue alone.
15. Transition Policy for Climate Change Mitigation: Who, What, Why and How?
Fergus Green. CCEP Working Paper. May 2018.
In the face of this increasing demand for “transition policy”, policymakers require expert guidance on how to develop coherent and desirable transition policy packages. Yet there is a dearth of policy-focused academic literature on this topic. This paper aims to provide a foundation for filling this gap. It first provides a definition of transition policy, identifying its key parameters. It then explores possible values of these parameters, resulting in an original map of the “logical space” of transition policy: the possible combinations of policy objectives, policy scope, and target actors that transition policy could encompass. To move from the possible to the desirable, the paper finally suggests three criteria for normatively evaluating transition policies: fairness; political transformation potential; and expected effectiveness. An appendix to the paper provides a literature overview of relevant works from multiple disciplines.
1. Industrial Regions and Climate Policies: Towards a Just Transition? (study)
European Trade Union Conderation (ETUC). 2016
The study by the European Trade Union Conderation (ETUC) includes a series of regional case studies: Yorkshire and the Humber (the UK), North Rhine Westphalia (Germany), Asturias (Spain), Antwerp area (Belgium), Norbotten (Sweden), Stara Zagora (Bulgaria), and Silesia (Poland). These regions have many similarities in terms of industrial heritage and current activity in their energy production and manufacturing industries. But they also each have their own characteristics due to national policy and history or geography. The study, written from the perspective of the trade union movement, attempts to anticipate future changes connected to the decarbonisation prescribed by European policy, conducting an analysis of the regional challenges and opportunities.
The study further presents information derived from a questionnaire about climate policies circulated to ETUC affiliates to get a sense of the debate on low-carbon industrial strategies, both at sub-national level and within the trade union movement, and also to identify possible best practices and experiences that may be shared.
2. Guidelines for a just transition towards environmentally sustainable economies and societies for all.
International Labour Organisation (ILO). 2015.
ILO guidelines on just transition:
At its 102nd Session (2013), the International Labour Conference adopted a resolution and a set of conclusions, hereafter referred to as the conclusions, concerning sustainable development, decent work and green jobs putting forward a policy framework for a just transition. At its 321st Session (June 2014), the Governing Body of the ILO endorsed the proposal to hold a tripartite meeting of experts in 2015 as a follow-up to the Conference conclusions.
The guidelines (included in the document) as agreed by the Experts are meant to provide non-binding practical orientation to Governments and social partners with some specific options on how to formulate, implement and monitor the policy framework, in accordance with national circumstances and priorities.
3. A Just Transition for All: can the past inform the future? (journal issue)
International Journal of Labour Research. 2015.
The Bureau of Workers’ Activities (ILO-ACTRAV) published this issue of the International Journal of Labour Research (IJLR) which addresses “A just transition for all: Can the past inform the future?”.
In 2013, the 102nd Session of the International Labour Conference (ILC) in 2013 addressed these challenges and adopted Conclusions concerning achieving decent work, green jobs and sustainable development.
This issue of the Journal is a contribution to the follow up of that Conference, which called on the ILO to provide further guidance on these matters and particularly to the need for a just transition for all.
This Journal is focused on drawing the lessons from a few transition experiences in order to analyse how successfully (or not) these processes were managed in the past and how future transitions might be handled in a just manner. The articles all address one or several of the elements highlighted by the ILC Conclusions as part of the “just transition” framework, and provide a rationale and solid justification for the use of these policies in the transition towards sustainability.
4. Just transition of the workforce, and the creation of decent work and quality jobs.
This paper presents the general concept of just transition, including the drivers and objectives of such transitions, and discusses the linkages between just transition and the impacts of the implementation of climate change mitigation policies. It also provides guidance on how to approach just transition at the national level. It provides an overview of the work undertaken under the Convention on a just transition of the workforce, and the creation of decent work and quality jobs.
5. Getting it right. A Just Transition Strategy for Alberta’s Coal Workers.
Alberta Federation of Labour.
In 2016, the Alberta Federation of Labour began a just transition campaign (http://www.coaltransition.ca/ ) on behalf of workers in the coal-fired electricity sector following an announcement that Alberta would phase out electricity generation from coal-fired generators by 2030. As part of their work they produced a report on just transition, which includes case studies and specific recommendations for Alberta from the perspective of the workers.
6. Resist, Reclaim, Restructure: Unions and the Struggle for Energy Democracy.
Trade Unions for Energy Democracy. 2013.
A trade union strategy for energy democracy can be built around three broad objectives, namely the need to resist the agenda of the fossil fuels corporations; the need to reclaim to the public sphere parts of the energy economy that have been privatized or marketized; and the need to restructure the global energy system in order to massively scale up renewable energy and other safe low–carbon options, implement energy conservation, and ensure job–creation and true sustainability.
7. Involving trade unions in climate action to build a just transition
European Trade Union Confederation. May 2018.
The 48 page document ‘Involving trade unions in climate action to build a just transition’ contains:
- Recommendations for economic diversification and industrial policy, skills, social protection and governance for a socially just transition
- Information on how trade unions can and have been engaged in shaping national climate action
- Examples of innovative projects that can inspire a more just transition
1. Restructuring Europe’s rustbelt: The Case of the German Ruhrgebiet. (paper)
Hospers, GJ. Intereconomics. 2004/39.
This article analyses the case of the German Ruhrgebiet. This region is perhaps Europe’s most well-known example of an old industrial area in which structural change has been occurring for about forty years.The article gives a rough sketch of the Ruhrgebiet and its economy, then goes on to study re-industrialisation strategies that have been pursued in the Ruhr as well as the associated problems caused by regional lock-in. This is followed by a look at the bottom-up approach of regional neo-industrialisation and an assessment of the restructuring efforts of the Ruhrgebiet and the area’s future. In the end, the authors draw a few lessons from the German case.
2. Instruments for a managed coal phaseout. German and international experiences with structural change.
Germany will need to completely phase out coal-fired power generation in order to meet its climate targets. This is generally accepted, although the precise timeframe of a coal phase-out is still a matter of contentious debate. This is a particular problem for the remaining lignite mining regions in Germany, where coal industry typically provides a high share of local employment and added value. In these regions, the coal phase-out will lead to significant negative consequences. However, Germany possesses a wealth of experience in managing structural change.
This briefing evaluates these German and some selected international experiences in the context of a German coal phase-out, and reflects upon which policy instruments have proved successful in the past. Learning from the German experience is particularly relevant now, as the country is currently facing many tough questions that other countries will soon have to deal with in phasing out coal – particularly in Southern and Eastern Europe.
3. A Review of Industrial Restructuring in the Ruhr Valley and Relevant Points for China.
Institute for Industrial Productivity. 2015.
A comprehensive yet succint overview of the Ruhr valley post-coal transition, including timelines, main measures taken by various actors, the successive strategies tried out, and an analysis of what worked.
4. Eleven key points in favour of a consensus regarding coal. (Elf Eckpunkte für einen Kohlekonses. Konzept zur schrittweisen Dekarbonisierung des deutschen Stromsektors (Kurzfassung)).
Agora Energiewende. 2015. In German.
Seminal paper in the German debate on transitioning away from coal that does detailed modelling of the impact of various instruments used to phase out coal, and ends up by proposing a compromise – ‘the golden handshake’: creating a lignite fund, that means paying companies to create energy from lignite and put it into a reserve fund.
5. Life Beyond Coal (article)
by Emma Bryce for the Stanley Foundation
A journalistic overview of transition in the Ruhr region, with a few description of projects exemplifying how the transition went, a history of the region and basic statistics.
6. A Socially Acceptable Exit from Coal Is Possible! (Sozialverträglicher Kohleausstieg ist machbar!)
German trade union Verdi argues in a study that it is possible to design the coal phaseout in a way that is socially acceptable.
7. Strategic Approaches to the Design of Structural Change in Lusatia (Strategische Ansätze für die Gestaltung des Strukturwandels in der Lausitz)
Wuppertal Institute. 2016. In German.
8. Vattenfal’s Chance. A future without coal for Lusatia. (Vattenfalls Chance Eine Zukunft für die Lausitz ohne Braunkohle)
Greenpeace Germany. 2015. In German.
9. Value-added and employment from renewables in Brandenburg in 2030 (Wertschöpfung und Beschäftigung durch Erneuerbare Energien in Brandenburg 2030)
Greenpeace Germany. 2012. In German.
Study on the financial and job benefits that an energy transition could bring to Germany’s lignite regions.
10. Value-added from energy transition in Lusatia and Rheine regions (Mehrwert einer regionalen Energiewende im Lausitzer und im Rheinischen Revier)
Greenpeace Germany. 2017. In German.
Study on the financial and job benefits that an energy transition could bring to Germany’s lignite regions.
1. Beyond Coal. Sustainable alternatives for the future of coalfield regions. Case Study: Alternative Development for Teruel Coalfield Region.
Greenpeace Spain. 2016.
The study is an overview of post-coal transition in the Spanish region of Teruel, made up of two parts, commissioned by Greenpeace Spain to two different institutions with different background and expertise: (1) The Union Institute of Work, Environment and Health (ISTAS), a self-managed trade union’s technical foundation supported by the Spanish Trade Union Confederation Comisiones Obreras (CCOO), studied the problem from a historical perspective. They reviewed the coal mining situation in Spain and Teruel, the legal framework, and the characteristics shared by coalfield regions. They also compile international examples of just and sustainable reconversions in coalfield regions, and draw conclusions from these proceses. (2) Abay Analistas specifically analyzed possible sustainable alternatives for Andorra’s mining region in Teruel. They reviewed the ongoing transition in the region, and analysed socioeconomic factors to propose possible economy diversifications.
1. Regional decline and restructuring in Ostrava Agglomeration and Katowice Conurbation. (paper)
Jan Suchacek. 2005
The paper is devoted to the comparison of restructuring in Ostrava agglomeration (Czech Republic) and Katowice conurbation (Poland). While in the case of Ostrava region this restructuring turned out to be far from perfect, in Katowice area, on the contrary, pessimistic scenario did not materialise.
2. The Transformation of the Polish Coal Sector (paper)
Aleksander Szpor, Konstancja Ziólkowska. International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), Global Subsidies Initiative, Institute for Structural Research, Climate Strategies. 2018.
This study considers the policies and strategies that were adopted to help manage the decline in employment. In particular, it focuses on two measures: the Mining Social Package and Special Privileges for Mining Communes. It assesses the success of each of these policies in mitigating the adverse social and economic impacts of the decline of the industry and considers their relevance to the challenges of coal phase out today.
1. The practice of transition management: Examples and lessons from four distinct cases. The Netherlands. (paid article)
Derk Loorbach and Jan Rotmans. 2009.
The article presents four different cases of transition management in which the authors were involved over the past 10 years in The Netherlands, and it ends with drawing lessons and formulating research questions for the future.
2. The transitions storyline in Dutch environmental policy. The Netherlands. (paid article)
Adrian Smith and Florian Kern. 2011.
In 2001 the Dutch government adopted a new policy in its Fourth National Environmental Policy Plan. Its transitions approach seeks radically more sustainable socio-technical systems, and represents an attempt to reinvigorate ecological modernisation. To explain the rise of this distinct policy storyline, a coalition of researchers and policy-makers forming the transition storyline is analysed. The interpretative flexibility of the storyline in relation to prevailing institutional priorities explains its success but also builds in limits by making subsequent institutionalisation susceptible to capture by incumbent interests, as illustrated by implementation in the energy sector.
1. The End of Coal Mining in South Wales: Lessons learned from industrial transformation
Travers Merrill and Lucy Kitson. IISD (International Institute for Sustainable Development). 2017.
The report reviews the economic and political context of coal mining in South Wales, describing the origins of coal mining, its growth through the industrial revolution and into the inter-war period, its gradual but irreversible decline after the Second World War, and its eventual disappearance in the 1990s. It then examines the pronounced social and community consequences of mining and the closure of coalmines, drawing attention to the role of unionized labour and the role it played throughout the rise and fall of mining in Wales.
The overarching lesson from the Welsh experience is the powerful influence of global economic factors and the need to establish a critical mass of local skills and resilience to respond to both the closure of collieries and subsequent economic changes.
1. Jobs and the Low-Carbon Energy Transition: Perspectives from Cumberland County
Scott Vaughan. IISD (International Institute for Sustainable Development). 2017.
Debate over Canada’s climate change policies has frequently centered on concerns over jobs and economic competitiveness. This is not surprising. Industries and governments have long worried that tougher pollution standards push up costs, flatten margins in tight markets and shed jobs. However, the debate today takes place in an environment of high anxiety over wages and job losses, and alarm over growing levels of inequality.
Against that backdrop, this commentary begins in Cumberland County, in Northwestern Nova Scotia, Canada, where new jobs are emerging in the renewable energy sector. It argues that the shifts underway in Cumberland County are representative of a larger, global transition, as job losses in the fossil fuel industry are replaced by growth in renewable energy.
2. Making de-carbonization work for workers. Policies for a just transition to a zero-carbon economy in Canada
Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood. Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives. 2018.
Communities across Canada need a national strategy to ensure the move to a zero-carbon economy leaves no one behind. For the first time, this report uses census data to identify the regions in each province with the greatest reliance on fossil fuel jobs. The new analysis comes after the federal government announced last fall it will launch a task force in 2018 on a “just transition” policy framework for certain sectors. In general, the broad goal of a just transition is to ensure an equitable, productive outcome for all workers in the decarbonized future.
3. The End of Coal: Alberta’s coal phase-out
IISD. May 2018.
In November 2015, the Canadian province of Alberta committed to a phase-out of coal power by 2030. The phase-out of coal power in Alberta will involve the retirement of over 40 per cent of Alberta’s 2016 installed capacity and the de facto phase-out of local thermal coal mines.
This paper explores the circumstances leading to the phase-out and the actions taken by affected players for those who may draw inspiration and lessons from Alberta: policy-makers, campaigners, environmental groups, the coal industry and others transitioning to a low-carbon economy in Canada and the world over.
1. At the Crossroads: Balancing the financial and social costs of coal transition in China
The boom and eventual bust of resource-dependent regions has played out across the world many times over the last 50 years. As extractive industries decline demands are made for subsidies to protect the industry while policy-makers search for new industries to replace lost jobs and maintain economic development.
This report examines the current status of the coal transition in Shanxi and proposes recommendations for how reform can be managed to ensure that economic, social and environmental factors are built into the process. These recommendations draw on international experience, in particular, the experience summarized in case studies from South Wales in the United Kingdom, Appalachian Kentucky in the United States and Asturias in Spain.
1. Prospects for steam coal exporters in the era of climate policies: a case study of Colombia
Pao-Yu Oei and Roman Mendelevitch. Climate Policy 2018.
This article summarizes current market developments in the most important coal-producing and coal-consuming countries, resulting in a critical qualitative assessment of prospects for future coal exports. Colombia, as the world’s fourth largest exporter, is strongly affected by these global trends, with more than 90% of its production being exported. Maintaining or even increasing mining volumes in Colombia should be re-evaluated, taking into account new economic realities as well as local externalities. Ignoring these risks could lead to additional stranded investments, aggravating the local resource curse and hampering sustainable economic development.