What is a ‘Just Transition’
A ‘Just Transition’ is an idea that has been around for a long time now. The origin has been credited to several different struggles but the core principles remain the same. As we change our economies to environmentally sustainable production models based on renewable energy we must make sure that no part of society is left behind. More than that, I believe that a just transition can be an opportunity to transform everything for the better.
I’ll give an example of why we need to embrace the idea of a just transition. Last year Bord na Mona announced a plant closure which resulted in almost 500 jobs being lost. People were surprised and unprepared, it left an entire community very vulnerable and many of those laid off will probably end up taking whatever job they can get. Of course decarbonisation of our economy is going to result in the loss of certain industries but we need to make sure that workers do not bear the brunt of this change.
This could have been done a different way. An industry like Bord na Mona could have begun preparing for closure years in advance by offering back to college allowances, facilitating community discussions about the future of the place, encouraging a diversification of industry and enterprise, and a gradual lay off of workers. It will require action from the top down and the bottom up. We all need to get involved or it will be decided for us, without us.
Making sure we have a just transition will need everybody on board. It is an idea, a set of social interventions, and a process all at once. It will give us the opportunity to address inequalities that have been carried over for generations. It will give us the chance to rearrange our societies and supply chains which are currently riddled with human rights violations, environmental destruction, and inequality galore. Everybody I have ever spoken to wants better, this is our chance.