Achieving a just transition in Wales

With ten years left to avoid a climate system breakdown as cautioned by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the need for decarbonising our economies has never been more urgent. Decarbonisation is a major policy challenge with the Welsh Government stating its ambition for a target of a 95% reduction in emissions by 2050. However, decarbonisation is neither a straightforward nor necessarily an equitable process and will impact different people in different ways. Our project looked at a ‘just transition’, which seeks to ensure that decarbonisation is carried out in a way that avoids creating or exacerbating inequalities, and to use the possibility of a transition to reduce or remove these inequalities. Adopting it would allow governments and other stakeholders to address existing challenges while meeting ambitious climate targets, and offers a way to mainstream decarbonisation across government.

The WCPP’s work in this area is intended to provide an initial reflection on what a just transition might involve, and how one might be implemented in Wales. We have attempted to harness views among organisations and individual experts working on this area through roundtables and other forms of engagement, as well as through carrying out desk-based research.  These are presented in a report and thinkpiece, as well as a recording of a presentation made by Professor Tahseen Jafry at a workshop hosted by the WCPP in June 2020, ‘Risks and Opportunities for a Just Transition in Wales’.

Our report, ‘Towards a Just Transition in Wales’, attempts to unpack what a just transition means, and how decarbonisation can be used to promote a more inclusive and fairer economy. We discuss the relationship between a just transition and the existing Welsh policy framework, and opportunities to integrate the two, as well as the challenges posed by the limits of the devolution settlement and the difficulties of addressing both decarbonisation and social justice. We also consider the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic and the lessons it might hold for a just transition. Recognising that this is an evolving policy area, we conclude with some initial suggestions on how a just transition might be conceived of in the Welsh context.

The thinkpiece, ‘Climate Just Transition in Wales: Developing a Framework for Action’, authored by Professor Jafry, presents a draft set of recommended steps for putting together a framework for developing policies that lead to a just transition, based on outcomes from WCPP’s June workshop. This framework can be used to develop and assess proposed policies and ensure that progress is made.


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