As the Just Transition Work Programme (JTWP) negotiations commenced at the UNFCCC Bonn Climate Conference today, we hear from our Programme and Networks Director, Julie-Anne Hogbin, and our Programme and Development Officer, Nicole Kempis, on Climate Strategies’ approach to proceedings.

Our aim is to draw on lessons and insights from both research and practice to support the design of the new Work Programme on Just Transitions, which is to be agreed at COP28. The IPCC’s Sixth Assessment report delivered their starkest warning yet, confirming that current national climate plans are not in-line with the Paris Agreement commitment to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees.

To overcome this gap in our collective progress, we must increase both ambition and implementation. There is growing recognition that the integration of Just Transition principles into climate plans can help create the enabling environments we need to do this. Applying Just Transition principles can maximise the co-benefits of climate action and minimise any negative effects, reduce existing inequalities, and boost sustainable development.

In the era of “poly-crisis”, we do not have the time to tackle challenges separately. Successful Just Transitions support cross-cutting, integrated, and multi-level policy solutions. However, the Just Transitions discourse has only recently started to reflect perspectives from the global majority.

For the last 3 years, Climate Strategies has been working with research partners in Colombia, Indonesia, Ghana, Argentina, Bangladesh, Kenya, Malawi, Laos, and Vietnam to develop country-specific insight into the opportunities and challenges of Just Transitions. This work has highlighted the importance of issues in Just Transitions discourse, such as informal workers, energy access, historical emission and just transitions for adaptation measures.

Discussions that we have had with stakeholders at SB58 in Bonn reinforced the importance of inclusive discourse that connects international cooperation to the lived realities of vulnerable communities. Therefore, the work programme will need to find a way to balance the urgency of the climate crisis with the time needed to build trust and strengthen capacity at a local level.

Climate Strategies’ work, amongst others, has highlighted that a just and equitable approach to climate action can raise ambition in the Global South by strengthening financial and institutional capacity which increases adaptive and mitigative capacity. Currently, it is partly the scale of unmet development needs that undermines many countries’ capacity to adapt to climate change and reduce emissions.

What is clear from all of these studies, as well as our work in Europe, is that Just Transitions must account for the nationally or locally defined development context. We did, however, find some common components needed to underpin successful Just Transitions:

  • A need for integration and coordination between and within different levels of government and across sectors – often through the creation of a Just Transition commission.
  • The need for consistent policies that support early planning for long-term objectives, but can also be adapted to any unforeseen changes.
  • Inclusive multi-stakeholder engagement in a participatory decision-making process, with particular emphasis on vulnerable and marginalised peoples.
  • Transformative policies for a thriving diversified economy, including support for social protection, decent jobs, reskilling, entrepreneurship, technology development and innovation.
  • Coordinated finance (e.g., public private partnership) for place-based demand-driven solutions.

The new Work Programme on Just Transition (JTWP) provides a critical moment to create enabling environments for an upward spiral of ambition and implementation. 

Climate Strategies recently co-hosted a side event at the UNFCCC Bonn Climate Change Conference, alongside the Republic of Colombia and DIW Berlin. Focusing on exploring lessons from the global stocktake to inform a new JTWP, you can watch a recording of the event on-demand here.