Just Transitions: Mapping the Political Economy of Pathways to Net-Zero

Organizer: Frans Berkhout
Format: Online, Evening

Radical change in energy systems to achieve net-zero GHG emissions will impose differential costs and benefits across groups, regions, societies and countries. The politics of these unequal impacts has become contentious in many parts of the world. On the one hand, 2019 has seen children’s climate strikes and other mass mobilisations for action on climate change in many countries. On the other, cases like the gilet jaune protests in France in 2018/19 have shown that climate policies can also provoke strong counter mobilisations. These developments illustrate the powerful social and economic tensions that are likely to emerge as trade-offs are made in private and public climate action. They present an emerging series of political and policy challenges with a range of expressions at local, regional and national scales. The idea of ‘just transitions’ has been discussed in the policy literature and was a feature of the final declaration of the IPCC COP24 in Katowice in 2018. While the focus has been on the economic and employment impacts of transitions away from fossil fuel production, there is a broader agenda connected to the economic and social impacts of transitions away from fossil fuel consumption. Understanding these potential impacts and how they affect social groups, businesses and regions is a major analytical task. And addressing these distributional impacts will be a challenge to public policy. Analysing Just Transitions The sessions will be in a discussion format and address the related issues of analysing and acting on the differential social impacts of public policy and private climate action. Who are the likely winners and who are the losers? And what are the public policy challenges that arise? The aim will be to discuss perspectives on these questions from four different contexts internationally.

Themes: Knowledge-to-Action, Sustainability for Who?