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What is "Just Transition"?

Just Transition: A Social Route To Sustainability

This report introduces the concept of just transitions, outlines their role in providing a social route to sustainability, and provides new guiding principles for policymakers.


This report consists of 16 short essays explaining the concept and application of just transitions through discussion of various just transition policies such as the European Green Deal. These contributions from European and international government officials and trade union leaders advocate collective action and engagement with affected communities to draw on their knowledge and perspectives.

The concept of just transitions has gained popularity in the last few decades but remains poorly understood. The report describes just transitions as a bridge between the current world—in which the gap between the rich and the poor enables outsourcing of environmental damage of all kinds—and a world in which “human well-being is improved,” not just growth. It calls for designing fair socioecological policies that not only aim to reduce pollution but also address inequality and social injustice.

In addition, the report emphasizes the need to mobilize resources such as the European Union’s Just Transition Fund and develop the right tools for an inclusive approach to climate change and social issues. It describes sustainability as a core principle for just transitions, urging the European Green Deal to “integrate all dimensions of sustainability,” including social, environmental, and economic aspects. The authors criticize a lack of media coverage of the issues and maintain that stronger public support is needed to combat climate change and improve environmental justice.

Renewable Energy Policies and the Energy Transition in Japan

This case study examines Japan’s renewable energy policy and the state of the energy transition, to assess whether the country is enacting a socially just energy transition.


This report by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) summarizes Japan’s renewable energy policies and the state of its energy transition. It outlines Japan’s current energy mix and the policies in place to support an expansion of renewable energy in the electrical power system, particularly since the Fukushima nuclear accident in 2011. This incident prompted Japan to restructure its electricity sector and expand its coal and natural gas imports to displace nuclear power. Most of the paper is technical in nature and focuses on the country’s power sector and the ongoing deregulation process.

The report also outlines Japan’s long-term vision for promoting the transition to renewable energy, arguing that its plans for renewable power are underdeveloped. The report highlights the opportunities for renewable energy development, including various prefectures’ potential for wind, solar, and geothermal energy production. It also provides recommendations to achieve a socially just energy transition, including the potential for community-based renewable energy projects, as well as credit systems to support their development.

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.

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.”

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.