Correction: The research paper listed below, Who is included in a Just Transition? Considering social equity in Canada’s shift to a zero-carbon economy. by Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood and Zaee Deshpande , was co-published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and the Adapting Canadian Work and Workplaces to Climate Change Project (ACW) in August 2019. It is one of several co-publications by these two organizations on the theme of Just Transition.
The Smart Prosperity Institute published a Working Paper in April as the latest in its Clean Economy Series. A systematic review of the key elements of a just transition for fossil fuel workers is written by three academics from the University of British Columbia, and sets out to answer the question: “What elements of a just transition for fossil fuel workers and their communities do scholars in different academic fields identify?” The research is intended to “provide policymakers, environmental and trade union organizations who are already invested in creating just transition strategies insight on the kinds of issues they can target in their efforts.”
The paper is the result of a systematic literature review of academic articles, along with “government commissions and international organizations”, published between 2000 and 2019, and focused on a just transition for fossil fuel workers and their communities. The authors found a total of 520 documents and selected 33 for analysis, representing varied locations— most from the United States, some international, six from Australia , and the remainder from other countries. From Canada, only the federal Task force on Just Transition in 2018 was included in the analysis. The authors note that most articles concern OECD countries and coal workers; they were unable to find articles focused solely on Saudi Arabia, Brazil, India, or oil and gas workers. They conclude: “Collectively, the articles we reviewed identify 17 key elements (or strategies) of just transition ranging from requirements of long-term planning to importance of retraining. Moreover, these 17 elements vary in terms of the type of justice they further (distributional, procedural, recognition & restorative justices), spatial scales, and timeframe.”
A systematic review of the key elements of a just transition for fossil fuel workers is a solid academic treatment of a huge and ever-growing literature. However, it does not recognize the considerable contributions of advocacy organizations, think tanks, nor labour unions – all of which have been active globally and in Canada.
Below are a few of those documents which add important viewpoints to the Just Transition policy debate in Canada: (in reverse chronological order)
- Winding Down BC’s Fossil Fuel Industries Planning for climate justice in a zero-carbon economy (March 2020) by Marc Lee and Seth Klein, published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives;
- “What’s in a just transition? A roundtable on the meaning of the movement” published as a special issue of Briarpatch Magazine in May/June 2019;
- Alberta’s Coal Phase-out: A Just Transition? published by the Parkland Institute in November 2019;
- Who is included in a Just Transition? Considering social equity in Canada’s shift to a zero-carbon economy. by Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood and Zaee Deshpande , co-published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and the Adapting Canadian Work and Workplaces to Climate Change Project (ACW), August 2019;
- Communicating Climate Change and Energy in Alberta – Alberta Narratives Project published by U.K. based Climate Outreach (2018) focused on oil sands workers ;
- Just Transition and Beyond Just Transition: Canada in Action. Roundtable Summary Report (2018) by the Adapting Canadian Work and Workplaces to Climate Change project ;
- Making Decarbonization Work for Workers: Policies for a just transition to a zero-carbon economy (2018) and Evaluating government plans and actions to reduce GHG emissions in Canada: Just Transition policies by Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood published jointly by ACW and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives in 2017;
- Planning for the Transition in a Carbon Constrained World: Lessons from the Literature for Saskatchewan (2017) published by the Saskatchewan Environment Society;
- Getting it Right: A Just Transition Strategy for Alberta’s Coal workers by the Alberta Federation of Labour (2017);
- Just Transition: Creating a Green Social Contract for BC’s Resource Workers published by the CCPA B.C. in 2015, and examining forestry, mining, and fossil fuel workers and communities.
- And as far as 2000, the Canadian Labour Congress position paper, Just Transition For Workers During Environmental Change .