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How to create a just energy transition

A literature review by the Environmental Defense Fund, an NGO, reveals five recommendations to deliver a just transition that is fair to workers and communities.

Ensuring fairness for workers and communities as the world transitions to a clean energy society is a complex task, and not one helped by the economic fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic. A report published in March 2021 by the Environmental Defense Fund sets out what policymakers need to do to ensure a just transition.

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Unemployed coal miners in Cumberland, Kentucky. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The NGO has compiled findings from a series of studies that unpack existing US and European policies related to the just transition. It distills them into five recommendations:

  1. There is no silver bullet for a just transition. Lawmakers will have to consider and implement a variety of policies.
  2. Lawmakers will need to ensure policies are coordinated across all levels of government.
  3. Early-stage interventions, including reforms to bankruptcy laws, programmes to shore up local governments experiencing a decline in their tax base, and efforts to get displaced workers into new, high-quality jobs are vital.
  4. Special attention needs to be given to low-income and minority communities, and  affected workers and communities should be engaged in the design of just transition programmes.
  5. Challenges the energy transition poses for public revenue streams must be addressed.

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