This report highlights the main elements of the coal transition in the United Kingdom and discusses the government’s policies in response to the unintended consequences of the coal transition.
Economic diversification/restructuring > Economic development plans, Infrastructure investment
Employment > Job creation and/or equality, Skills, Social protections
Environment and/or pollution > Nature
Government intervention > Carbon pricing, Public finance, Regulation
Investment > Competitiveness
Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI), Climate Strategies
Academic/research institution or journal
This case study examines the United Kingdom’s coal transition, which began in the early 1980s amid unfavorable market conditions and the privatization of coal mines and power plants. A 2013 carbon tax, as well as the 2015 government decision to close unabated coal-fired power plants, accelerated the transition process, leading to a near complete phase-out of coal use.
The report analyses the socioeconomic impacts of the transition, focusing on unemployment, high electricity bills for the poor, and low wages for alternative jobs. The author also discusses the policy measures implemented to ease the transition and describes various financial streams, such as the European Union Structural funds, that helped finance the revitalization of coal regions.
The report evaluates those policy measures against their intended outcomes. The measures were considered economically successful (as they provided 180,000 alternative jobs) but failed to meet other social needs. Although they were never designed to be aligned with climate change policies, they have evolved through time in response to political pressures. Some of the measures, such as the welfare benefits for redundant workers, are well embedded in the United Kingdom’s economic model. The report, however, calls for enhanced planning and early warnings of closures in future transitions.
This report explores the strategic role that banks could play to support a just transition in the United Kingdom as it pursues a net-zero economy by 2050.
Government intervention > Public finance, Regulation
Investment > Private finance
principles for responsible banking
small and mid-size enterprises (SMEs)
Nick Robins, Vonda Brunsting, David Wood
Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, University of Leeds
Academic/research institution or journal
As the largest part of the United Kingdom’s financial system, the banking sector must help mobilize the quantity and quality of finance needed for the country to achieve its goal of a net-zero economy by 2050. This paper examines how can banks can best respond to the social opportunities and risks from the transition to a resilient net-zero economy, calling for banks to see the challenge as an opportunity to renew their social license to operate.
The authors argue that the main way banks can help achieve a just transition is by supporting their customers and clients. This means understanding the requirements of different customer segments (particularly under-served segments), the barriers they face, and the financial solutions that could enable them to succeed in the transition. The authors examine the specific needs and challenges of banks’ customer groups, specifically individuals/households and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). They also emphasize the need for place-based action and suggest that locally rooted banks and financial institutions can help “anchor” transition efforts.
They conclude by emphasizing the need for a policy framework that provides policy and market incentives for financing just transitions and for fostering broader systems innovations. Among other things, these innovations should help establish the necessary capital mix for a zero-carbon economy and address the traditionally risk-averse attitude of financial institutions.
Academic paper/Guidelines, Strategies and Recommendations
This academic paper seeks to understand citizens’ perceptions of the energy transition in communities in France, Ireland, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom and how to integrate these perspectives into the decision-making process.
France, Ireland, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom
Economic diversification/restructuring > Economic development plans
This academic paper investigates citizens’ perceptions of the energy transition and the kinds of roles they see themselves playing in its implementation. Through a series of cross-sectional community engagements and other research tools, the authors seek to describe how local communities can become empowered to drive project development and engage meaningfully in the low-carbon energy transition.
The authors examined six communities in five European countries. Participants felt that, as citizens, they had limited agency to participate in energy system reforms and that, as energy consumers, they were locked into a restricted set of false choices that do not grant them meaningful power.
The authors call for energy governance structures and organizational formats that are participatory, inclusive, and mindful of the lived experiences of local people. They offer a “characterization tool” to help communities assess the potential for energy democracy and citizen participation within six different types of participatory business models. They also offer recommendations for how these models can incorporate citizens’ perspectives into planning and implementation, using examples to illustrate how considering a broader range of stakeholder perspectives can promote more equitable energy configurations.
This report discusses the need for a just economic transition to a greener economy in the United Kingdom and makes policy recommendations to ensure workers are protected during the transition.
Employment > Job creation and/or equality, Skills
Inequality and/or poverty > Gender inequality
Trades Union Congress (TUC)
“This paper by the British Trades Union Congress (TUC) discusses the need for a just transition in the United Kingdom and proposes ambitious policies that could help protect workers, such as including workers in policy processes and giving them access to funding for skills development. The TUC calls for the UK government to ensure sufficient funding to enable a fair transition.
The TUC argues that workers’ voices must be heard at all levels of decision-making processes, advocating unionization in all workplaces to ensure better worker representation. The organization calls for companies seeking to adopt a lower carbon model to provide transition agreements that include worker-friendly policies that provide guarantees of job security, outline working time, facilitate access to training and skills, and ensure equal opportunities.
The paper concludes by emphasizing the role the UK government should play as “a funder and procurer of new energy and broader infrastructure” to ensure that new jobs benefit local communities. The TUC warns against awarding contracts to companies without first agreeing on standards for corporate behavior.”