Just transition literature summary

  • Institution / Author: Society, Work & Politics Institute, University of the Witwatersrand [Cock, J.]
  • Summary: The paper questions whether resistance to the expansion of coal can drive a just transition in South Africa. Transformative resistance requires creating ‘counter-power’ which challenges coal on every level, builds new alliances which generate solidarity, and is potentially infused by imaginative visions of a ‘just transition’. This could embed the anti-coal struggle in a social movement for an alternative development path. The paper examines oppositional agency in three social spaces: mining affected communities, the environmental justice movement and the labour movement.
  • Key findings/ Recommendations: Priorities differ for each social space: job losses for labour, dispossession of land and livelihoods for rural communities, and extractivism for the environmental justice movement. Anti-coal initiatives have the potential to build a ‘counter-power’ which challenges inequality, and is potentially infused by visions of another world beyond coal. This could cohere into a vision of a ‘just transition’ that is transformative.
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  • Institution / Author: National Planning Commission
  • Summary: Consensus between stakeholders resulted in a common vision to 2050 that places the Just Transition and the transition to a low carbon future as central. Disagreements arose around ownership of infrastructure and the whether a zero carbon or carbon neutral goal was appropriate.
  • Key findings/ Recommendations: Three key recommendations are put forward. The first calls for the investigation of vulnerable jobs across sectors and formulate plans to absorb job losses. The second involves negotiating labour and social plans for the decommissioning of coal-fired power stations. The final recommendation is to implement two just transition pilots in Mpumalanga (energy) and Free State (agriculture).
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  • Institution / Author: Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) [Strambo,C., Burton, J., Atteridge, A.]
  • Summary: This report explores the main challenges associated with the likelihood that South Africa’s coal production might decline significantly over the next five to ten years. The report highlights some of the key issues that need to be thought through and discussed as part of ensuring a “just transition” to this future.
  • Key findings/ Recommendations: Coal mining communities face a broad variety of impacts. Risks to livelihoods may become a political barrier, which is exacerbated by institutional dynamics and union resistance. Nationally focused stakeholders do not focus as much as local stakeholders on the local impacts indicating a difference in priorities. The current environmental and mining governance landscape is inadequate for addressing the social and environmental impacts of mining activities.
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