Just Transitions: a comparative perspective

Report prepared for the Just Transition Commission providing a comparison of just transitions in other countries.


1 In the preamble to the Paris agreement, the following wording appears: "Taking into account the imperatives of a just transition of the workforce and the creation of decent work and quality jobs in accordance with nationally defined development priorities." (http://unfccc.int/files/essential_background/convention/application/pdf/english_paris_agreement.pdf)

2 The question of how broadly the term 'just transitions' should be applied has been raised by scholars working in the field of environmental law in the US. For example, Ann Eisenberg argues that the term 'just transition' should be applied solely in the first sense (given in main text above). This view seems to have arisen specifically out of concerns over the long injustices experienced by those working in the US coal industry. This may be less applicable specifically in the Scottish case, since the North Sea oil industry has been less associated with a long history of abuse - notwithstanding the Piper Alpha disaster and concerns over the safety of offshore work.

3 https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/aug/19/greeces-bailout-is-finally-at-an-end-but-has-been-a-failure

4 https://nypost.com/2018/12/19/coal-mining-is-causing-this-small-village-to-sink-into-the-ground/

5 https://cop24.gov.pl/fileadmin/user_upload/files/List_of_Leaders_and_Parties_endorsing_the_Solidarity_and_Just_Transition_Silesia_Declaration_updated.pdf

6 In the US, tobacco companies were involved in funding the TTPP program and the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (1988) - the WARN Act. The WARN Act was enacted in 1988 in response to the rash of plant closings and layoffs that had occurred in the preceding years. It sought to ensure that workers, their families, and local community leaders had sufficient time to prepare for mass layoffs or plant closures. It obliges employers to provide at least 60-days' notice to employees of a covered plant closure or mass layoff. The Act covers employers who plan to lay off fifty or more employees during any thirty-day period, excluding part-time employees. The Act has been heavily criticised, but the idea could be helpful - perhaps a modernised WARN Act of just transitions law and policy would require 6-12 months' notice and options for assisting workers to retrain and relocate (Eisenberg 2019).

7 http://www.lse.ac.uk/GranthamInstitute/news/the-just-transition-comes-of-age/

8 Abraham 2019

9 Procedural justice entails an inclusive and equitable decision-making process guiding the transition, and collective ownership and management of the new, decarbonised energy system by the different stakeholders—rather than a single interest (see for example McCauley et al. 2013).

10 Healy and Barry 2017

11 Healy and Barry 2017

12 Sweeney and Treat 2018:2

13 Sweeney and Treat 2018

14 Hopwood et al. 2005; Healy and Barry 2017

15 UNRISD 2016. See also Stevis and Felli 2015; Healy and Barry 2017; McCauley and Heffron 2018; Heffron and McCauley 2018

16 https://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---ed_emp/---emp_ent/documents/publication/wcms_432859.pdf

17 https://unfccc.int/sites/default/files/english_paris_agreement.pdf

18 https://cop24.gov.pl/fileadmin/user_upload/files/List_of_Leaders_and_Parties_endorsing_the_Solidarity_and_Just_Transition_Silesia_Declaration_updated.pdf

19 https://cop24.gov.pl/fileadmin/user_upload/Solidarity_and_Just_Transition_Silesia_Declaration_2_.pdf

20 http://www.industriall-union.org/just-transition-an-idea-whose-time-has-come

21 https://www.ilo.org/global/topics/green-jobs/publications/WCMS_432859/lang--en/index.htm

22 https://www.ilo.org/africa/about-us/offices/abuja/WCMS_617876/lang--en/index.htm

23 https://www.ilo.org/manila/public/newsitems/WCMS_559814/lang--en/index.htm

24 https://www.ilo.org/global/topics/green-jobs/projects/latin-america/WCMS_559552/lang--en/index.htm

25 https://minae.go.cr/images/pdf/Plan-de-Descarbonizacion-1.pdf

26 http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Articles/2014/06/02/Pros-and-Cons-Obama-s-New-Carbon-Rule

27 https://www.climaterealityproject.org/blog/why-clean-energy-incentive-program-matters

28 https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/09/climate/clean-power-plan.html

29 https://unfccc.int/files/focus/long-term_strategies/application/pdf/us_mid_century_strategy.pdf

30 https://unfccc.int/files/focus/long-term_strategies/application/pdf/us_mid_century_strategy.pdf

31 https://www.arc.gov/funding/POWER.asp

32 https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2015/03/27/fact-sheet-partnerships-opportunity-and-workforce-and-economic-revitaliz

33 https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2015/03/27/fact-sheet-partnerships-opportunity-and-workforce-and-economic-revitaliz

34 The ECWTP aims to increase "the number of disadvantaged and underrepresented minority workers in areas such as environmental restoration, construction, hazardous materials/waste handling, and emergency response". The ECWTP specialises in recruiting young, low-skilled members of the labour force. In general, the ECWTP provides training in basic construction skills; hazardous waste, asbestos, and lead abatement; and safety and health training. The ECWTP also provides preemployment job training, including literacy and life skills to its trainees. Since 1995, the ECWTP has provided instruction and job skills for roughly 9,600 individuals Sciences (National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences 2015).

35 This perspective resonates with dynamics seen in other regions with a legacy of coal production, including in Britain. The effects of deindustrialisation and the decline of mining on British working-class communities have been well-rehearsed. Large numbers of white, working class men lost their livelihoods as traditional industries fell away, and since their skills and experience were not compatible with the demands of the emergent service sector, many of them had limited prospects within the new economic environment. As they were progressively locked out of the labour force, the 1980s saw a sharp increase in long-term unemployment in the areas most affected, particularly in Wales and the midlands, and "in certain locations, generations have passed through the economically active years of the life cycle without any realistic chance of secure employment" (Jackson 1998). Ethnographic research with mining communities has pointed to members' self-reported belief that "prolonged unemployment, and the inevitable interaction with the welfare state bureaucracy, had produced a feeling of powerlessness and apathy" amongst them (Diedrich 2000). In the 1990s and 2000s, New Labour had attempted one kind of transition intervention, by spreading wealth towards those areas that had undergone industrial decline through fiscal policy - in particular, by strategically relocating public sector back-office jobs to South Wales and the North East, and introducing tax credits in order to make low productivity service work more socially viable. However, "this effectively created a shadow welfare state that was never publicly spoken of, and co-existed with a political culture which heaped scorn on dependency… New Labour offered 'redistribution' but no 'recognition'…Not only was the 'spatial fix' a relatively short-term one, seeing as it depended on rising tax receipts from the South East and a centre left government willing to spread money quite lavishly (albeit, discreetly), it also failed to deliver what many…crave[d] the most: the dignity of being self-sufficient, not necessarily in a neoliberal sense, but certainly in a communal, familial and fraternal sense" (https://www.perc.org.uk/project_posts/thoughts-on-the-sociology-of-brexit/)

36 https://money.cnn.com/2017/11/08/news/economy/hazard-kentucky-coal-jobs/index.html

37 https://money.cnn.com/2017/11/08/news/economy/hazard-kentucky-coal-jobs/index.html

38 http://kftc.org/about-us/our-approach

39 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Broad_form_deed

40 http://kftc.org/about-us/our-approach

41 http://kftc.org/about-us/our-approach

42 http://www.justtransitionfund.org/history

43 https://www.nrcan.gc.ca/science-data/data-analysis/energy-data-analysis/energy-facts/electricity-facts/20068

44 For example, the worker-focused organisation Iron + Earth has published a Workers' Climate Plan (Iron + Earth 2016) that proposes the following: the building of Canada's renewable energy workforce; the manufacturing of renewable energy products; the positioning of existing sector unions, contractors and developers within the energy sector; and renewable energy technologies and industrial-scale efficiency projects (Zinecker et al. 2018).

45 https://www.euki.de/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/E3G_2019_Briefing_German_Coal_Commission.pdf

46 https://www.euki.de/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/E3G_2019_Briefing_German_Coal_Commission.pdf

47 Small and medium enterprises

48 Zollverein is an old mining operation which was closed at the end of the twentieth century and subsequently declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is now a large park combining industrial archaeology, green landscape, leisure installations, and cultural facilities (https://www.publicspace.org/works/-/project/k127-zollverein-park).

49 Emscher Landscape Park is an industrial heritage site that has seen a disused steelworks converted into an open-air recreation and leisure park (https://climate-adapt.eea.europa.eu/metadata/case-studies/a-flood-and-heat-proof-green-emscher-valley-germany/11305605.pdf).

50 https://www.wri.org/blog/2017/11/conserving-forests-could-cut-carbon-emissions-much-getting-rid-every-car-earth

51 https://www.letraslibres.com/mexico/ciencia-y-tecnologia/una-transicion-justa-america-latina

52 https://www.wri.org/blog/2016/09/insider-why-good-forest-governance-crucial-successful-redd-programs

53 https://redd-monitor.org/redd-an-introduction/

54 Decision 1/CP16, 'The Cancun Agreements: Outcome of the Work of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long- Cooperative Action Under the Convention' FCCC/CP/2010/7/Add.1 (15 March 2011), para 70

55 https://www.wri.org/blog/2016/09/insider-why-good-forest-governance-crucial-successful-redd-programs

56 https://redd-monitor.org/redd-an-introduction/

57 https://redd-monitor.org/redd-an-introduction/

58 https://redd-monitor.org/redd-an-introduction/

59 Additionality refers to the REDD+ requirement that the changes incurred through projects would not have happened in their absence (see https://redd-monitor.org/redd-an-introduction/)

60 Leakage refers to the fact that while deforestation might be avoided in one place, it may instead take place in another area of forest or in a different country (see https://redd-monitor.org/redd-an-introduction/)

61 https://www.cepal.org/en/comunicados/pesca-ganaderia-altoandina-y-agricultura-serian-los-sectores-mas-afectados-por-el-cambio

62 Peru's NDC makes some reference to the first point: it indicates - albeit in a footnote - that "it is necessary to consider among the enabling conditions all actions leading to territorial and land use regulation and guaranteeing indigenous peoples' territorial security" (Ibid.).

63 Peru ratified Convention No. 169 concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) through Legislative Resolution No. 26253 of 1993. It also signed and voted for the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (Ramos 2010). Peru's environmental legislation of Peru tangentially recognises the rights of indigenous peoples, an example of which is the prioritisation of the logics of use and extraction of natural resources over indigenous peoples' rights

to lands and territories (Ramos 2010). After extended conflict between indigenous peoples and the then government, the new government passed the Law of Free Prior and Informed Consent with Indigenous Peoples and concluded its regulation in 2012 (Che Piu and Menton 2014).

64 A type of natural area protected under indigenous administration.

65 https://www.wri.org/blog/2016/09/insider-why-good-forest-governance-crucial-successful-redd-programs

66 The Dedicated Grant Mechanism for Indigenous Peoples and local communities (DGM) is part of the Forest Investment Program (FIP), which forms part of Climate Investment Funds that provide funding to countries to address the direct and underlying drivers of deforestation and forest degradation (https://www.worldbank.org/content/dam/Worldbank/document/Climate/DGM-FAQ-033015.pdf).

67 https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jun/15/norway-pledges-to-become-climate-neutral-by-2030

68 https://cicero.oslo.no/no/posts/nyheter/climate-neutrality-the-norwegian-way-carbon-trading

69 https://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/22/world/europe/22norway.html?_r=1&pagewanted=print

70 https://www.oecd.org/dac/evaluation/Norad-Factsheet-interactive-final.pdf

71 https://cicero.oslo.no/no/posts/nyheter/climate-neutrality-the-norwegian-way-carbon-trading

72 https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/nov/12/norway-flaunts-green-credentials-drilling-more-oils-wells

73 https://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/22/world/europe/22norway.html?_r=1&pagewanted=print

74 https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=25038&LangID=E

75 He also noted that the cumulative development of mines, wind farms, hydroelectric power plants, roads, and powerlines have resulted in loss and fragmentation of pasture lands and constitute serious threats to the sustainability of reindeer husbandry.

76 https://www.norskpetroleum.no/en/economy/governments-revenues/

77 https://www.ft.com/content/9400bf9e-3157-11e7-9555-23ef563ecf9a

78 https://newclimateeconomy.net/sites/default/files/nce_facts_sheet_just_transition.pdf

79 https://www.regjeringen.no/contentassets/02d09ccf18654070bc52e3773b9edbe1/green_competitiveness_executive_summary_nobember_2016.pdf

80 https://www.regjeringen.no/contentassets/4a98ed15ec264d0e938863448ebf7ba8/t-1562e.pdf

81 A recent Guardian article (https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/nov/12/norway-flaunts-green-credentials-drilling-more-oils-wells) notes that "In a high-profile lawsuit filed in 2016, Greenpeace Nordic and Norway's Nature and Youth organisation argued that the government is violating the rights of present and future generations to a safe and healthy environment by continuing to issue licences to petroleum companies, enabling them to explore for new oil reserves. In the first week of the appeal hearing, we heard that the Norwegian government challenges elements of established climate science and maintains its argument that Norway is justified in continuing its search for new oil in the vulnerable Arctic region. In 2018, the district court confirmed that the right to a healthy environment is an enforceable human right protected by article 112 of Norway's constitution. The government has a legal obligation to respect, protect and fulfil this fundamental human right. However, the judge accepted the government's claim that Norway has no responsibility for carbon emissions resulting from burning Norwegian oil and gas outside of Norway". This decision is being appealed.

82 https://newclimateeconomy.net/sites/default/files/nce_facts_sheet_just_transition.pdf


Email: justtransitioncommission@gov.scot

Back to top