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What is "Just Transition"?

Job Losses and Political Acceptability of Climate Policies: Why the ‘Job-Killing’ Argument is So Persistent and How to Overturn It

The author examines how real or perceived job losses from climate policies impact the willingness of workers to support these policies and identifies countervailing policies for decisionmakers to consider.


This paper examines the political acceptability of climate policies and the prevalence of the argument that these policies kill jobs. The author argues that the aggregate losses from climate policies are significantly smaller than the benefits, in terms of health and labor market outcomes. Using case studies and empirical evidence, the author maintains that the “job-killing” argument is exacerbated by a collective action problem. Individuals who are modestly “winning” have little motivation to organize to support climate policies, while those most negatively impacted are more likely to rally against these policies. Concerns for jobs tend to outweigh climate change concerns, especially in the face of extreme negative economic shocks.

The author identifies several factors that amplify the prominence of the “job-killing” argument in affected communities. In addition to the financial crisis and the increase of international competition from China, the geographic concentration of affected workers in the same area is also a key factor. The author also highlights political factors, such as the weakening of unions, which has led to job quantity being prioritized over job quality.

The author suggests that decisionmakers should consider implementing countervailing policies that minimize the collective action problem resulting from negative economic shocks. The author uses examples to suggest some possible policies. These include using lump-sum transfers to affected workers and their communities as a means to increase the political acceptability of climate policies and revenues from a carbon tax being either used to finance workers’ retraining programs or recycled to reduce labor taxation.

Using climate finance to advance climate justice: the politics and practice of channeling resources to the local level

The report makes a case for the targeting of adaptation finance at the local levels of government through direct access modalities to address equity concerns and describes the main obstacles local governments and local civil society groups face in accessing adaptation finance.


The authors argue that some of the social, political, and economic processes that create and sustain inequalities within a country are typically the same as those that allocate climate finance. Adaptation finance may, therefore, advance climate justice between countries, while doing little to enhance climate justice within countries. The latter is viewed, in part, as a means of increasing justice through the redistribution of resources.

Using an urban lens for its analysis of low- and middle-income countries, the report outlines the ways that local governments and local civil society groups can increase the adaptive capacities of urban residents. The subsequent section identifies the barriers to disbursing adaptation finance to local organizations by illustrating how power relations favoring national and formal agencies create various economic, technical, and institutional obstacles for local organizations. This analysis informs the assessment of financial intermediaries and planning systems as entities that could be deployed to enable local organizations to access adaptation finance. The authors use some examples to illustrate how municipal authorities and organized groups of urban residents have been successful in using small amounts of resources to shift political dynamics. They suggest that there is scope for adaptation finance to have a transformational impact on procedural and distributive climate justice.

The authors acknowledge the risks involved, as channeling finance to the local level could end up: supporting patronage networks and clientelism; overburdening local actors with responsibilities beyond their existing capabilities and lead to the formalization of their processes that result in new exclusions; and/or making such organizations dependent on donors, rather than strengthening local accountabilities. However, the authors suggest that there are emerging capabilities, particularly within some local civil society agencies, that can enable the reversal of exclusionary practices and demonstrate how this may work with respect to adaptation finance.

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.