FacebookTwitterLinkedInCopy LinkEmailPrint
What is "Just Transition"?

Equity, Climate Justice and Fossil Fuel Extraction: Principles for a Managed Phase Out

This paper offers general principles and policy insights to help the international community equitably manage the social dimensions of a rapid transition away from fossil-fuel extraction.


This paper explores how to equitably manage the social dimensions of a rapid transition away from fossil-fuel extraction within international climate politics. It analyzes equity issues related to fossil-fuel extraction and efforts to curb it in accordance with climate targets. The authors examine three common equity approaches from the literature, from which they derive guiding principles and policy recommendations for managing this global challenge.

The authors review the distributional issues arising from the phaseout of fossil-fuel extraction and argue that meeting international climate targets will require a more strategic approach to accelerating transitions in both Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and non-OECD countries. They then examine the implications of fossil-fuel extraction for employment, public revenues, and energy provision, examining how extraction activities can be both a “blessing” and a “curse.”

The authors then discuss three equity frameworks that appear in the broader climate-policy literature: allocating carbon budgets based on economic efficiency, development needs, and “fair shares” of global transitional efforts. Drawing from this analysis, they propose five principles for managing concerns related to equity and climate change, touching on questions surrounding the cost and pace of transitions, as well as the distributional impacts at various levels of government. They conclude with policy suggestions for how to apply these principles in practice.

Guiding Principles & Lessons Learnt for a Just Energy Transition in the Global South

This report suggests eight principles for measuring justice dimensions of energy transition processes in developing countries and applies this rubric to twelve countries in the Global South.


This report discusses the various stakeholder narratives of “just energy transitions” and their claims to justice. The authors promote transformative alliances among these stakeholders to align their sustainable development strategies. They offer a set of eight principles to encourage and assess justice dimensions of energy transition processes in developing countries.

Using the proposed principles and their respective indicators, the authors evaluate twelve countries: China, India, Nepal, the Philippines, Vietnam, Fiji, Morocco, South Africa, Tanzania, Costa Rica, Jamaica, and Mexico. These countries were identified based on justice terminology within their nationally determined contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement. Performance among these countries was generally strongest in terms of their ambitious targets regarding climate and the alignment of their NDCs with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. These countries generally scored lower with respect to the socioeconomic dimension—such as ensuring or fostering “decent work and resilience,” “social equity,” and “gender equality”—and even lower in regard to the political dimension.

The paper concludes that countries claiming to be pioneers of just energy transitions do not necessarily perform better in terms of the social and political dimension, nor do those who claim to be pioneers regarding justice necessarily lead when it comes to climate ambition. The authors offer recommendations specific to each of the twelve countries and conclude with broadly applicable policy recommendations to better apply justice to energy transitions.