Climate Change | Discussion Takeaways

Setting an International Policy Agenda for Just Transitions

November 2017


Following the transformational pathways to limit global warming to 1.5° C requires economywide transitions with the potential to disrupt the livelihoods of workers, communities centered around high carbon economies, and historically marginalized people. As international climate policy moves toward a zero-emissions economy, it has an obligation to ensure the well-being of communities disproportionately affected by these changes, working with governmental and nongovernmental stakeholders to provide safety nets for workers, create decent green jobs (Sustainable Development Goal 8), and include marginalized communities in conversations on transition plans. The origins of just transition policies in grassroots social and labor movements further provide the spark for taking broader action to achieve a fair, just, and safe climate future.

This policy memo lays out the elements of just transition, barriers for implementation, and the need for building connections across social movements. It provides recommendations from experts for developing an international policy agenda on just transition. It is intended to help institutions of all kinds—civil society, the private sector, cities and states, governments, and intergovernmental organizations—address major social challenges associated with transformations to limit global warming to 1.5° C. It also presents opportunities for climate action to achieve social policy goals and vice versa. Not all of these recommendations are applicable in every circumstance. Notably, certain recommendations are more pertinent to the social and economic situation in the Global North, compared to the Global South.