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What is "Just Transition"?

Just Transition for All: Analytical Evidence

This brief includes nine short essays on a range of issues related to just transitions, including summaries of various tools and strategies and brief regional case studies.


This brief consists of short papers prepared for a breakout session of the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24) in March 2018. The papers examine various just transitions efforts around the world, including different approaches to green transitions, a case study of distributional impacts in Germany, and a summary of green coalitions and movements in the United States.

Several of the authors emphasize implementing social protections and promoting inclusion to ensure a just transition to a low-carbon economy. The document calls on countries to take urgent action to train workers in the skills needed for a greener economy and to provide them with social protections to facilitate the transition to new jobs. One author argues that a truly just transition cannot focus solely on unionized coal miners but must consider informal workers or service providers as well. Another essay classifies just transitions approaches in terms of their inclusiveness and ambition, offering a useful taxonomy for assessing them. Another author argues in favor of a “systems approach” to just transitions that would use not only sectoral data but also microeconomic, demographic, and social survey data to create a more holistic view of societies in transition.

Mapping Just Transition(s) to a Low-carbon World

This paper defines just transitions and emphasizes the term’s roots in social and environmental justice, especially for those in the climate sphere who are less familiar with these underpinnings.


This paper helps define just transitions, emphasizing the origins of the concept in the labor movement and in social and environmental justice. The paper includes a schematic of the approaches of various groups to just transitions, mapping the views of various stakeholders and broadly grouping them under four approaches: status quo maintenance, managerial reform, structural reform, and transformative reform.

The authors review the origins of the concept of just transitions in the U.S. labor movement in the 1970s and discuss how it spread in the 2000s, largely under the rubric of climate policy and with more support from UN agencies and the International Labor Organization (ILO). The authors also explore the evolution of the just transition concept through case studies of six countries: Brazil, Canada, Germany, Kenya, South Africa, and the United States.