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The concept of a ‘Just Transition’ has its origins in the International Labour Movement and is an integral part of many of the global commitments adopted by countries. The UN Sustainable Development Goals collectively represent the agenda of a ‘Just Transition’.

The Paris Agreement 2015, which was adopted by 195 countries, including Ireland, represented the first ever global, legally-binding, climate deal. The agreement accords the ‘Just Transition’ concept as a key, central role in how states shape their response to climate change and the transition to a low carbon economy.

The Paris Agreement requires signatory parties take action to deal with greenhouse gas emissions, while considering “the imperatives of a just transition of the workforce and the creation of decent work and quality jobs in accordance with nationally defined development priorities…”.
Climate Action + Social Inclusion = The Just Transition.

At its core, the just transition is a forward-looking, action-oriented framework that identifies opportunities for public and private investment in economic development that is both sustainable and inclusive.It helps to connect activities across international organisations, regional and national governments, businesses and investors, the development and philanthropic sectors, and, crucially, the workers and communities who will feel the effects of the transition most keenly.

Importantly, the just transition is a global agenda for industrialised as well as emerging and developing economies, one that addresses both the decarbonisation and resilience dimensions of the transition.

Guidelines for a Just Transition towards Environmentally Sustainable Economies and Societies for All
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has devised clear and comprehensive guidelines to underpin the Just Transition process in member states. The guiding principles state that “social dialogue” must play an integral part of policy formulation in respect of the transition to environmentally sustainable economies and societies.

No single actor can deliver the just transition alone. Governments have a leading role in terms of linking climate, macroeconomic, industrial, labour and regional policies. Business and trade unions play a direct role in shaping the transition within the workplace, along with civil society organisations in the wider community.

European Green Deal

The European Green Deal sets out a plan to make the EU’s economy sustainable by turning climate and environmental challenges into opportunities and making the transition just and inclusive for all.

The Just Transition Mechanism (JTM) is a key tool to ensure that the transition towards a climate-neutral economy happens in a fair way. The Mechanism consists of three pillars:

  • A Just Transition Fund,
  • A Just Transition Scheme under Invest-EU
  • A Public Sector Loan Facility.

The Mechanism is part of the €1 trillion European Green Deal investment. Support will be available to all Member States, focused on regions that are the most carbon-intensive or with the most people working in fossil fuel industries.The Just Transition Fund supports include investment in SMEs and start-ups, research and innovation, transfer of advanced technologies, affordable green energy, as well as decarbonisation of local transport.

The investment support will be based on the specific investment needs identified in the Territorial Just Transition Plans as drafted by the EU Member States and the InvestEU programme (2021 – 2027).

An overview of the EU Just Transition Fund can be found here.

Ireland and the Just Transition

Ireland is set to receive up to €77 million from the EU Just Transition Fund. A total of €44 million comes under the Next Generation EU instrument and would be aimed at projects during the 2021-24 period.

In addition to the EU policy actions, the Irish Government has also established an Irish Just Transition Fund 2020 and the Office of a Just Transition Commissioner. The Just Transition Fund 2020 is a €11 million fund for retraining programmes of the workers and for supporting employment opportunities in green enterprises in the Midlands region. The Midlands region will be particularly affected by climate mitigation policies and decarbonising of the local economy due to the significant presence of Bord na Móna.

Details of the Irish Just Transition Fund can be found here.

The CARO have secured a provisional offer to develop training and mentoring supports in the midlands under Strand 2 of the Just Transition Fund.