Just Transition

Just Transition is a framework developed by the trade union movement[1] to encompass a range of social interventions needed to secure workers' rights and livelihoods when economies are shifting to sustainable production, primarily combating climate change and protecting biodiversity.

Protestor in Melbourne calling for a just transition


Just Transition addresses this concern by promoting sustainable actions that help workers. Uniting social and climate justice by means of a Just Transition means to comply with demands for coal workers in coal-dependent developing regions who lack employment opportunities beyond coal;[2] fairness for workers in emerging economies that demand their share of the “industrialisation dividend”; fairness for those having to leave their homes as sea levels rise and engulf coastal regions and islands as a consequence of climate change; fairness for populations affected by the air pollution and broader environmental impacts of coal use.[3]


In the past years, a number of organizations have deployed the concept of a Just Transition with respect to environmental and/or climate justice.[4]

The term "just" has also been applied to concerns about ending war and building a peacetime economy.

The concept of Just Transition in moving towards a low‐carbon and climate‐resilient economy has later, in particular by trade unions, been used also in relation to digitalization.[5][6][7]

A just transition from coal is supported by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.[8]


At the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, France, or COP 21, unions and just transition advocates convinced the Parties to include language regarding just transition and the creation of decent work in the Paris Agreement’s preamble.[9][10][11][12]

At the 2018 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Katowice, Poland, or COP 24, the Heads of State and Government adopted the Solidarity and Just Transition Silesia Declaration, highlighting the importance of just transition as mentioned in the Paris Agreement, the ILO's Guidelines, and the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.[13] The Declaration encourages all relevant United Nations agencies to implement proceed with its implementation and consider the issue of just transition when drafting and implementing parties' Nationally Determined Contributions, or NDCs.[14][15][16]

The European Union has adopted Just Transition as a major part of their European Green Deal to help fossil fuel-dependent regions within the European Union to transition to a greener economy.[17]

The Green New Deal proposes just transition mechanisms for the United States.[3]


  1. ^ "Climate Frontlines Briefing - No Jobs on a Dead Planet" (PDF). International Trade Union Confederation. March 2015. Retrieved 27 March 2020.
  2. ^ "Just Transition Platform". European Commission - European Commission. Retrieved 19 August 2020.
  3. ^ a b Brecher, Jeremy (2019). "Making the Green New Deal Work for Workers". In These Times. Retrieved 2 May 2019.
  4. ^ "Mapping Just Transition(s) to a Low Carbon World" (PDF). UNRISD. December 2018.
  5. ^ "Eurocadres raises just transition in the pillar in summit". Eurocadres. 19 November 2017. Retrieved 23 February 2018.
  6. ^ "ETUC proposes east-west 'wage convergence alliance' and 'just transition' to EU leaders". 18 October 2017. Retrieved 23 February 2018.
  7. ^ "Towards a just transition for inclusive digitalisation". Institute of Development Studies (IDS). 9 March 2017. Retrieved 23 February 2018.
  8. ^ "The EBRD's just transition initiative". European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
  9. ^ "Paris Agreement" (PDF). United Nations 2015. 2015.
  10. ^ Smith, Samantha (May 2017). "Just Transition" (PDF). International Trade Union Confederation. Retrieved 17 March 2020.
  11. ^ "What is the Paris Agreement?". UNFCCC. Retrieved 24 April 2020.
  12. ^ "Find out more about COP21". COP 21 Paris. Retrieved 24 April 2020.
  13. ^ "Solidarity and Just Transition Silesia Declaration" (PDF). COP 21 - Katowice 2018.
  14. ^ "Unions support Solidarity and Just Transition Silesia Declaration". ITUC. Retrieved 24 April 2020.
  15. ^ "Katowice Climate Conference". United Nations. Retrieved 24 April 2020.
  16. ^ "Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs)". UNFCCC. Retrieved 24 April 2020.
  17. ^ "Financing the green transition: The European Green Deal Investment Plan and Just Transition Mechanism". ec.europa.eu. Retrieved 14 November 2020.

External linksEdit


  • Bell, Karen (2020), Working-Class Environmentalism: An Agenda for a Just and Fair Transition to Sustainability, London: Palgrave
  • Hampton, Paul (2015), Workers and Trade Unions for Climate Solidarity, London and New York: Routledge
  • Morena, Edouard, Dunja Krause and Dimitris Stevis (2020), Just Transitions: Social Justice in the Shift Towards a Low-Carbon World, London: Pluto
  • Räthzel, Nora and David Uzzell (2013), Trade Unions in the Green Economy: Working for the Environment, London and New York: Earthscan/Routledge