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Global efforts to mitigate climate change are ramping up, with a rising numbers of countries, companies and financiers taking action to tackle climate change. At the same time, climate changes, such as temperature and weather changes, are increasing, with dramatic impacts on populations. These are having material impacts on the economy and society. In the short term, dealing with this transition has materialised primarily in a focus on the decarbonisation of the energy systems. In the medium to long term, this will extend to virtually all sectors and segments of society.

In this context, the just transition agenda has taken centre stage. It aims to lower the risks faced by the most affected and vulnerable stakeholders, such as working people, small businesses and low-income communities, while providing an opportunity to maximise the development of new opportunities and redress historical injustices.

Establishing a credible fact base is paramount for designing and implementing an evidence-based just transition. To allow easy access to a growing body of work on just transition, TIPS has curated relevant content into an open knowledge portal. This provides short summaries as well as key findings and recommendations from a diversity of reports, strategies, videos and podcasts. The knowledge portal focuses on South Africa but will be extended to other areas in the future.

The portal is a living initiative. Should you know of additional resources which could be added or spot any errors, please contact Lerato Monaisa at lerato@tips.org.za

Featured material

Just transitions and the green economy - navigating the fault lines

SUMMARY: The paper frames the Just Transition from a moral and business perspective. It assesses how much responsibility companies and organisations should have for the impact their clients have on

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National employment vulnerability assessment: analysis of potential climate change-related impacts and vulnerable groups

SUMMARY: The report provides a detailed analysis of the capacity of vulnerable communities, workers and businesses to adjust to climate change-related impacts in the coal, metals, transport-based petroleum, agricultural value

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Down to zero: The politics of Just Transition

SUMMARY: This book looks at the anticipated impact of climate change and the experiences of millions of people who are facing a climate disaster, focusing on Southern and South Africa.

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Unlocking a just energy transition for SA

SUMMARY: Professor Mark Swilling discusses the global renewable energy revolution, the public sector’s role in investment in renewables and how renewable energy has the potential to change social politics and

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Towards a theory of just transition: A neo-Gramscian understanding of how to shift development pathways to zero poverty and zero carbon

  • Institution / Author: Harald Winkler
  • Year: 2020
  • Sectoral focus: Economy-wide
  • Thematic focus: Advocacy, Consensus building
  • Type of analysis: Desktop research
  • Type of document: Journal article

SUMMARY: The article focuses on the need to better understand how a just transition can shift development paths to achieve net zero emissions and eliminate poverty. The article begins by introducing and reviewing different theoretical approaches to theorising just transition. It builds a neo-Gramscian theory of just transition around concepts of ideology, hegemony, change agents and fundamental conditions. The coalition needs to gain broader support, establish a new cultural hegemony in support of just transitions and be able to transform the fundamental conditions of the 21st century. The article briefly considers how this better understanding can be applied to the practice of shifting development pathways. The article also presents some limitations to the study and discusses implication and further research directions.

KEY FINDINGS: The article proposes a theory of just transitions, in order to tackle the challenges of development and climate. The just transition theory is needed to shift from past development paths which brought high carbon, poverty, inequality. Building on neo-Gramscian theory, just transition is poised as an ideological element which acts as a unifying vision, around which an alliance of change agents coalesces. The article suggests that just transitions require coalitions of change agents coalescing around an ideological element - the just transition. A just transition requires organising broad front politics and finding ways to cooperate with others. This establishes a new world-view, or in neo-Gramscian terms, cultural hegemony. A just transition can provide the basis for a new social contract, ensuring human flourishing and a healthy planet. 

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