The global need to combat climate change and limit the rise in average global temperatures to 1.5°C has never been more urgent. Recognizing that the decisions made today will profoundly shape the destiny of future generations, countries around the world are working towards a sustainable and climate-neutral future. However, the journey towards this ambitious goal needs thoughtful consideration of the challenges involved.
A significant milestone was marked at the recent COP28 (United Nations Climate Change Conference) in Dubai, by signaling the "beginning of the end" of the fossil fuel era. According to the UN, this decision should lay the ground for a swift, just, and equitable transition, underpinned by deep emission cuts and scaled-up finance. It is crucial that countries acknowledge the need for transformative policies that not only address the urgency of climate action but also prioritize the well-being of those directly impacted by transitions.
Bosnia and Herzegovina, recognizing the need for a greener future, is actively taking steps towards a more sustainable and fair path. Advancing the green agenda for the Western Balkans, the country is focusing on shifting from coal to cleaner and renewable energy sources. The BiH SuTra programme plays a crucial role in supporting local municipalities and towns in preparing their transition plans.
In this pursuit, the principles of a "just transition" are essential, emphasizing the imperative to safeguard the well-being of communities and workers affected by the shifts required to reach climate goals.
Laura Del Duca, the Gender Equality, Social Equity, Poverty expert for the BiH Sutra project from Stockholm Environment Institute, also highlighted the role of seeking justice when working in the context of transitions. “In our work, we see clear evidence both of gendered impacts of energy poverty and transitions, as well as of the role gender plays for proposed solutions. Where transitions are not well-managed, they not only risk becoming unjust, but also to cause serious harm to some social groups. My hope is that more people start understanding climate and environmental changes as social and political struggles, in addition to the environmental and economic problem that dominates the current discourse, and that this is followed by political will.”
The concept of a "just transition" delves into fundamental questions about fairness in the global shift to a low-carbon economy, especially for regions reliant on carbon-intensive industries. One of the core ideas behind this is that a transition that is perceived as fair is more likely to also be perceived as meaningful and valuable for the wide range of actors whose participation is essential to make the change. Stockholm Environment Institute's policy report by Aaron Atteridge and Claudia Strambo emphasizes seven principles that define a just transition. These principles provide a framework for integrating fairness into policy and practice, ensuring that the transition is not only swift but also just. Implementing programmes and measures supporting those affected while encouraging decarbonization is crucial. The report is based on analyses of related literature and historic cases of similar economic disruptions.
To achieve equity aims, all principles should be pursued in parallel, not selectively. At the same time, nothing justifies postponing the first principle: the decarbonization imperative. Postponing this crucial step, which results in certain regions being left behind as global decarbonization speeds up, is inherently unjust – as are the consequences of unchecked climate change itself. Effectively implemented initiatives and investments hold the potential to significantly impact regions undergoing decarbonization. They can serve as a source of inspiration for others and play a role in fostering transitions that are not only fair but also more probable.
Read the full brief "Seven principles to realize a just transition to a low-carbon economy" here. Authors: Aaron Atteridge, Claudia Strambo, Stockholm Environment Institute.
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A new study, looking at five countries in the Western Balkans, shows that development finance in the energy sector has not been aligned with the long-term goals of decarbonization and the Paris agreement. Going forward, greater attention is needed to ensure that future international finance flows are directed to renewables and sustainable and just energy investments.