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Policy and just transition – key insights

Welding a new electric powered motor vehicle at Ampere vehicles (2017 Ashden Award runners-up)

The world faces unprecedented risks due to climate change, and mitigating this requires a transformation of many industries and patterns of everyday consumption. But little attention has been paid to how the transformation of these industries is impacting the communities who depend on them for employment.

Failing to understand their concerns and needs risks creating widespread opposition to climate mitigation policies and slowing the transformation that is so urgently needed. 

The idea of a just and fair transition that protects all sections of society has attracted widespread support, but framing and explaining these changes in ways that are engaging and relevant to people is essential. Covid-19 has further re-shaped the debate with a new set of ideas focused on a green recovery plan and the potential for economic stimulus packages to accelerate decarbonisation. 

There has been little work done to understand what a just transition would need to look, sound and feel like for it to be truly seen as just. This work programme addresses that gap in our understanding.

Key insights from our work 

    • We need to talk about the transition to a low-carbon economy without it sounding like a threat to the livelihoods – and sense of identity – of all those who work in energy-intensive industries and the communities they support.
    • In order to be successful, dialogue has to be grounded in a practical and feasible plan and present a response to people’s legitimate concerns. Building a successful just transition has to be about more than just a message: the jobs need to be ready and waiting for people to move into.

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Further Reading

Reports & guides

Broadening engagement with just transition

    • Previous Climate Outreach testing shows that the imagery and language of ‘justice’ has not resonated well with centre-right audiences, suggesting that ‘just transition’ may prompt the same response. The subtly different framing of ‘fairness’ may work better with people who hold centre-right values. Fairness is about doing right by everyone involved; justice, by contrast, may be taken to imply wrongdoing in the past that must be atoned for.
    • Many communities are turned off by imagery and stereotypes associated with environmentalism, and will speak more openly with trusted members of their own community. In successful communications, trust between all parties is essential.

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