Week of 8 November 2021
What a just transition means in practice is becoming a lot more concrete
Our key takeaway: The notion that the transition that is needed cannot take place if it is not just and brings people along with it is taking hold in Glasgow. Just transition is starting to become a lot more specific, including new multi-stakeholder initiatives, data analytics tools, laws and governmental governance structures
Here are three particularly interesting just transition developments from COP26:
- Enabling just transition in practice in the shipping industry: the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) (representing shipowners), the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) (representing seafarers and port workers) and the United Nations Global Compact have just created a Just Transition Maritime Task Force. The Task Force will support both (1) maritime decarbonisation and (2) seafarers and their communities through the energy transition. Specific activities include the development of new green skills and ‘green, high-quality jobs’; identifying and amplifying best practice across the value chain; as well as policy recommendations for equitable decarbonisation in shipping. In particular, a focus is on developing countries: a number of seafarers come from developing nations, they are witnessing first-hand the effects of climate change, and these countries need access to technologies and infrastructure to be a part of the transition within shipping. This is an example of how one industry is seeking to take a people-centred approach as companies within the sector work to halve emissions by 2030. The Task Force will start in December 2021.
- Empowering workers to develop the skills needed for a zero-carbon and resilient economy: SkillLab, an impact business from Amsterdam working to empower people to turn their skills into careers, is now the technical partner of the Just Skills Hub – with support from the UN High Level Champions for Global Climate Action, the EU’s Joint Research Centre, and others. This hub will leverage data analytics to help workers develop the specific skills needed for a zero-carbon and resilient economy. This user-generated data will in turn inform policymakers, as well as companies, on pathways for the development of skills for the zero-carbon, resilient economy.
- Changing political systems so that they consider the interests of future generations: Wales is the only country (so far) in the world to have a Future Generations Commissioner, aka the World’s first minister of the Unborn in the words of the Guardian. A new Welsh law of 2015, the Well-being of Future Generations Act, “requires public bodies in Wales to think about the long-term impact of their decisions, to work better with people, communities and each other, and to prevent persistent problems such as poverty, health inequalities and climate change.” The law builds on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and sets out a new definition of prosperity, which moves away from GDP to measuring a productive, innovative, low-carbon society – which uses resources sufficiently and proportionately – including acting on climate change. The law sets out 46 national indicators that seek to ensure that social, economic, environmental, and cultural wellbeing of Wales are all considered – on equal footing – when decisions are made in Wales. The law creates a Future Generations Commissioner of Wales, Sophie Howe, who has a mandate to hold government to account when it is not acting in the interests of future generations. Speaking in Glasgow five years in to the role, Sophie provides an overview of this innovative political system in practice, including describing how it has led to halting funds for road extensions, and using them instead for public transport improvement. The UN has now announced its support for the establishment of a UN Special Envoy for Future Generations, a Futures Summit in 2023 and a UN Declaration for Future Generations. (We see these structures as the future, since they are at present the only way we know of tackling the short-termism that is baked into our current political systems).