EMPOWERING THE GLOBAL CITIZEN
Prof Darren McCauley highlights how a just transition involves a wholesale re-imagination of where burdens and benefits will be shared
For me , the just transition is a unique opportunity to engage governments , businesses , third sector organisations and consumers in the most significant reformulation of modern-day society .
Climate change targets can be a unifying aim for driving an urgent response away from fossil fuels towards a post-carbon society .
Moving from a carbon-intensive world to a more decentralised , technologically-enabled future needs to take place fairly . Just transition is a new social contract between global citizens and the instruments of state , private interest and public good .
We can only realise the transformative potential of engaging in a just transition through a critical reflection of what rights need to be preserved : how can such a transition empower the global citizen with new rights while demanding new radical , just , social and ecological outcomes ?
NEW CITIZEN RIGHTS MUST EMERGE Climate change discourse remains limited to the first dimension of these , known as prohibitive justice . Just transition is more than simply maintaining the rights of fossil fuel-polluting countries to compensate their affected communities .
In this way , new rights must emerge for citizens in the Global South and low carbon intensive regions . Above all , we must combine these affirmative justice principles with a transformative outlook that seeks to reconfigure our world placing global justice and ecological wellness at the fore .
I take the example of Malawi . It epitomises the existing problem with our current approach to the transition . As one minister told to me : “ Malawi doesn ’ t produce fossil fuels . It can ’ t sell fossil fuels to our neighbours . Malawi can ’ t afford fossil fuels . Meaning , we don ’ t matter .”
Supplying cheap electricity through renewable means is only part of what we should aim for . Innovative forms of multilevel decision-making processes must lead to a deeper redistribution of benefits and burdens .
INTERNATIONAL ACTION BEYOND STRATEGIES So what is the world doing about this ? The good news is that international organisations are responding in their own way to this idea of a just transition . They explicitly state a commitment to it in the Paris Agreement in 2015 .
It also reappeared at G7 annual meetings of national leaders and in the COP UNFCCC process , most notably leading to the Silesia declaration in 2018 . Other international organisations have different versions of just transition strategies including the International Monetary Fund , United Nations Development Programme and the World Trade Organization .
This action goes beyond strategies . It increasingly means financing . The example of the EU is the most prominent to date . The EU Green deal established a multidimensional framework for financing the transition , with its own named Just Transition Platform and associated financial mechanisms .