FacebookTwitterLinkedInCopy LinkEmailPrint
What is "Just Transition"?

Invest in Climate, Invest in Growth – Chapter 6: Towards an Inclusive Transition

This chapter examines the social and economic factors that affect governments’ climate policy decisions and advocates considering political economy dimensions when preparing long-term climate strategies.


This chapter examines the socioeconomic factors that influence governments’ abilities to envision and implement an effective climate response. Drawing on lessons from former industrial transitions, the authors emphasize the significance of local political economy dimensions. They advocate being proactive about engaging stakeholders and formulating exit strategies and offer recommendations on how to incorporate these dimensions into the development of robust, long-term, low-emission strategies.

In addition, the authors examine the potential impact of carbon pricing on households and offer lessons from past experiences with fossil-fuel subsidy reforms. They then examine the impact of climate mitigation on workers, highlighting specific aspects of former transitions from around the world.

Implementing Coal Transitions: Insights from Case Studies of Major Coal-consuming Economies

This report summarizes insights from the various workstreams of IDDRI’s Coal Transitions project, which seeks to develop feasible trajectories and policy guidance for deep transitions in major coal-producing countries.


This report summarizes key findings from the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations’ (IDDRI) Coal Transitions project, which seeks to support fact-based dialogue on the future of coal through analysis of past coal and industrial transitions. It reviews transition scenarios for six major coal-consuming economies (China, India, South Africa, Poland, Germany, and Australia) to analyze the global coal trade.

The author argues that coal transitions are already underway due to both climate and non-climate policy factors, that coal transitions are technically feasible and affordable, that past successes indicate just transitions for coal workers and communities are possible, and that coal transitions could strengthen global climate action and deliver other social and economic objectives.
The report concludes with recommendations for further research in order to better understand options related to local contexts and how an industry can limit its use of thermal and metallurgical coal. It emphasizes the importance of social dialogue as a condition for appropriately supporting workers and communities to manage the transition in a way that does not exacerbate existing fragilities.

Towards a Conceptualization of Power in Energy Transitions

This paper explores different theories of power to determine if, how, and where local power relations are disrupted or stabilized when renewable energy systems and their related institutional arrangements are introduced in rural communities.


The author develops a conceptualization of power to examine if, how, and where power relations—specifically those related to gender and class—are disrupted or stabilized when renewable energy systems and their new institutional arrangements are introduced in rural communities. The author then seeks to determine the overall impact of these disruptions or stabilizations on social equality.

Based on the empirical study of a small-scale hydropower project implemented by an international development organization in Mawengi, Tanzania, the author theorizes how electrification processes and power relations are mutually constituted. This paper illustrates seven steps in the process of rural electrification and their effects on local society, revealing a range of interfaces, interactions, and feedbacks that have material and social effects. Using extensive interview data, the author examines the steps of the Mawengi hydropower project, with the goal of understanding: (1) the relationship between actors involved and how they exercised power in the process, (2) the role of non-human agents, and (3) sources of stabilization and destabilization of social hierarchies.

The author found that the introduction of electricity services resulted in growing social inequality in parallel with enhanced social mobility at an individual level. The author discusses how purposeful acts to limit the influence of local elites in the electrification process destabilized the community further even as electricity consumers and utility members became more important social actors. The author suggests these new actors can use their position to promote or prevent local socioeconomic inclusion in future utility projects.

Gender in the Transition to Sustainable Energy for All: From Evidence to Inclusive Policies

This report summarizes a five-year research program investigating the links between gender, energy, and poverty and offers energy policy recommendations based on its findings.


This report synthesizes a five-year research program investigating the links between gender, energy, and poverty. The objective was to analyze the benefits of a gender-aware approach in energy access interventions. Nine research teams from 29 research institutions, including 21 in the Global South, conducted research in 12 countries. Using a mixed-methods approach, the researchers examined gender, energy, and poverty linkages in six thematic areas. They sought to explore the potential for adopting a gender-aware approach to energy access that could enhance equity between women and men and empower women through improved access to modern energy services.

Modern energy services and appliances, in the household and in micro- and small-scale enterprises, can change gender roles and dynamics of power. The research examined how these norms can change over time, what causes them to change, and how they vary across different contexts. It identified three levels at which factors influence decision-making and power relations between women and men: the micro level of households; the meso level of local government agencies and women’s organizations; and the macro level of national policymaking.

The authors provide recommendations for energy policy and practice based on a gender-aware approach, understanding that the ways in which gender norms influence needs, access, and control over energy services differ between communities.

Towards a Just Transition in the Philippine Electricity Sector: Challenges and Opportunities

This paper explains why transformational change in the Philippines’ energy sector is needed to meet the country’s climate commitment in a fair way.


This paper assesses the political and social feasibility of a just transition in the Philippines. It examines the energy sector’s political and socioeconomic dimensions and presents four different roadmaps to deliver a socially just energy transition while assuring the country reaches its climate goals.

As one of the world’s fastest-growing economies with the highest population growth in Southeast Asia, the Philippines faces an increase in energy demand but remains heavily reliant on fossil fuels despite its vulnerability to climate change. The authors call for an energy transition in the Philippines not only to mitigate climate change but also for economic reasons, since renewable energy has gained cost competitiveness relative to fossil fuels. However, the authors believe such a transition must also ensure universal access to electricity and reduce social inequality.

The paper recommends four “road maps to a socially just energy transition.” These include integrating energy system planning, such as grid expansion and energy access plans for rural areas; implementing renewable energy development programs that would feature rooftop solar and renewable energy support schemes; promoting energy efficiency and conservation; and maintaining some conventional electricity generation technologies to minimize the risks of stranded assets.

Indonesia’s Energy Transition and Its Contradictions: Emerging Geographies of Energy and Finance

This case study examines several problems associated with the recent surge in international solar power investment in Indonesia, including the concentration of projects in areas that already have affordable and reliable energy access.


This case study examines the implications of a surge in international investment in solar power in Indonesia since 2015. The spike in international investment partly reflects a broader shift from investment in the Global North’s established renewable energy markets to investment in emerging markets. Regulatory changes by Indonesia’s Ministry of Mineral and Energy Resources, which aimed to add 3.6 gigawatts of installed solar capacity between 2017 and 2019, also helped attract investment.

The surge in investment, however, does not fully align with Indonesia’s stated electrification goals. While foreign developers’ proposed projects will increase the country’s overall installed solar capacity, the investment landscape does not promote the small-scale, off-grid projects that would provide affordable and reliable electricity to the 25 million Indonesians currently without access. Additionally, the new pattern of investment has triggered a shift toward large-scale, centralized projects and more complex and opaque ownership structures as private financial institutions enter the market.

While investment has helped raise Indonesia’s installed solar capacity, it has done little to address the needs of the millions of Indonesians still without access to power. The current transition path has limited ability to achieve social and political transformations, suggesting a need for more thorough planning.

Towards a Just and Equitable Low-carbon Energy Transition

This paper presents a high-level review of existing literature on energy and non-energy transitions, exploring the distributive consequences of energy transitions and identifying common features of successful transitions.


This paper explores which regions, sectors, and groups could be adversely affected by a rapid low-carbon energy transition and offers lessons from previous transitions that could minimize the adverse impacts of current and future transitions. The authors discuss the broader distributional impacts of low-carbon transitions. These include the effect of higher energy costs on poor and middle-income households due to carbon pricing or the removal of fossil fuel subsidies, the implications of lost fossil fuel-related revenues for specific countries and regions, the impact on regions and workers heavily dependent on carbon-intensive industries, and the potentially adverse consequences of rapidly deploying low-carbon technologies.

The paper presents a high-level review of existing literature on energy and non-energy transitions. While the authors focus on the distributive consequences of energy transitions, they also explore how equitable transitions are achieved. They provide examples and brief summaries of policy mechanisms incorporated in previous transitions. Based on their review, the authors identify common features of successful transitions: foresight and timing, social dialogue and coordination among stakeholders, short-term protections coupled with active government involvement in reindustrialization, and assistance to those potentially impacted by higher energy prices

A Socially Equitable Energy Transition in Indonesia: Challenges and Opportunities

This report explores the challenges and opportunities for a socially just energy transition in Indonesia and offers recommendations for the Indonesian government.


“This study seeks to determine whether a just energy transition in the context of climate change is socially and politically feasible in Indonesia. It identifies potential partners for overcoming strong government support for continued fossil fuel extraction and accelerating a transformation toward renewable energy.

As a significant producer of oil and gas, Indonesia struggles to balance its energy sources despite the decline in its fossil fuel reserves. To better understand the barriers to an energy transition in Indonesia, this paper examines its social aspects, including public perceptions. Potential barriers include a lack of funding, bureaucratic inefficiencies, and a culture of corruption among central and subnational governments.

To overcome these obstacles, the authors recommend increasing public and private sector investment in renewables, including fiscal support and better coordination across ministries. They advocate establishing new performance indicators and frameworks to monitor and evaluate these objectives. They also suggest using larger public campaigns to promote renewable energy, increased energy efficiency, and conservation efforts.”

Towards a Socially Just Energy Transition in Vietnam: Challenges and Opportunities

This study examines whether it is possible to achieve social and political support for a shift to greater energy efficiency and renewable energy in Vietnam.


“This study analyzes the social aspects and political feasibility of an energy transition in Vietnam, identifies four main barriers to the country’s progress toward a socially just energy transition, and provides recommendations for how to achieve this.

The authors note Vietnam’s vulnerability to climate change and the opportunities and challenges involved in reaching its climate goals through a just energy transition. Vietnam’s progress toward energy efficiency has seen numerous institutional challenges, including insufficient and ineffective policies, complex procedures for investing in renewable energy, economic and financial barriers, and poor human capacity in the energy sector. Each of these obstacles harms public perceptions of renewable energy.

To address these challenges, the authors suggest various energy sector reforms: draft a new long-term energy vision, shift investment focus, improve state-owned enterprises’ transparency and regulations, and adopt new fiscal policies that promote renewable energy. To improve public perceptions, they also suggest conducting more capacity building, community outreach, and policy dialogues.”