Real People, Real Change: Strategies for just energy transitions

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December 2018
International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)

Energy transitions are about people—workers, consumers, businesses, communities, taxpayers and voters—who make decisions that lead to transitions and are ultimately affected by them. 

Early action on a just transition can minimize the negative impacts and maximize positive opportunities. The Paris Agreement on climate change includes a just transition as an important principle. A just transition is not a fixed set of rules, but a vision and a process based on dialogue and a tripartite agenda shared by workers, industry and governments that needs to be negotiated and implemented in its geographical, political, cultural and social context. It is implemented with a set of guiding principles, such as the ILO's Guidelines for a Just Transition.

This report aims to support governments of both developed and developing countries in their endeavour to make energy transitions just. It brings together political and communications strategies for a just transition, building on research and case studies of energy transitions that have happened or that are happening in Canada, Egypt, Indonesia, India, Poland and Ukraine

It identifies the following key steps for just energy transitions: 

  • Understanding the context - a political economy analysis will reveal who can be potential champions and allies, and who might be opposed to a process.
  • Identifying champions who can advocate for a just energy transition.
  • Making the case - a transition, or moving away from something, is often perceived as threatening. Communicating in a credible way about the reasons for and benefits of transitions, and being forthright about the challenges, is key to building support and finding well-adapted solutions
  • Implementing just transition measures, including through active labour market policies, skills development and retraining, public sector policies for job creation, industrial policies for economic diversification and support for community renewal.