IEA (2021), Recommendations of the Global Commission on People-Centred Clean Energy Transitions, IEA, Paris https://www.iea.org/reports/recommendations-of-the-global-commission-on-people-centred-clean-energy-transitions, License: CC BY 4.0
Many innovative approaches to people-centred energy transitions policies offer valuable insights to others. Some countries will face greater challenges pursuing clean energy transitions, pointing to the value of best practice exchange, collaboration and co-operation. The IEA is supporting the aims of the Global Commission in developing a data bank of global best practices in the design and implementation of people-centred clean energy policies.
- A new initiative of the CEM, “Empowering People: Advancing Skills and Inclusivity for Clean Energy Transitions”, seeks to highlight critical socio-economic elements of the energy transition, in particular as it relates to empowering people and promoting just and equitable transitions, by advancing skills, inclusivity and workforce development.
- A number of IEA Technology Collaboration Programmes foster cooperation on social dimensions of clean energy, including the Users TCP, which insights on the design, social acceptance and usability of clean energy technologies, and the Wind TCP, which examines social acceptance of renewables infrastructure.
- The UK COP26 Energy Transition Council aims to support people and communities around the world heavily reliant on the coal economy to make a secure and just transition, including building engagement through a new Just Transition Declaration.
- The EU has set up an initiative for coal regions in transition in the Western Balkans and Ukraine as well as an exchange programme with EU coal regions to ensure that lessons learned from the EU experience are shared across Europe.
As governments around the world enact policies to support energy transitions, they should ensure even distribution of benefits to countries and people around the world. The concentration of clean technology innovation, production and supply chains in a few regions will exacerbate income inequality and divide economic opportunities and job creation, eroding support for the energy transition. A collaborative approach among countries can help mitigate these impacts.
Increased and new types of co-operation between international organisations with traditional competencies in energy data analysis, such as the IEA, and organisations that focus on social and economic development issues, such as the ILO, will also help disseminate better outcomes and greater transparency on people-centred clean energy transitions globally. It is also crucial to measure progress of the transition using standard indicators that capture social, environmental and economic dimensions.
The sharing of experiences and best practices extends beyond international organisations and national governments to sub-national governments, businesses, communities and individuals. For example, several international city networks bring together urban practitioners to share their experiences and lessons learned in combining clean energy transition and social goals, such as the Global Covenant for Mayors on Climate and Energy, the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group and the Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance.
The question of financing people-centred clean energy transitions requires particular consideration. Not all countries will have the same financial means and technical capacity to deliver people-centred energy system transformations at the same scales and timeframes. As such, there will be an important role for international financing mechanisms, including through international development banks, to help developing countries carry out their transitions. For example, the EBRD launched a just transition initiative to ensure widespread benefits from the clean energy transition are shared by vulnerable countries and regions.
The Global Commission urges the IEA to expand its work on the people-centred issues of clean energy transitions, including close collaboration with other key bodies such as the ILO, and through the development of new ways to facilitate collaboration and analysis to support governments as they undertake transitions tailored to their own circumstances.
Clean Energy Ministerial Empowering People initiative
A new initiative of the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM), “Empowering People: Advancing Skills and Inclusivity for Clean Energy Transitions”, seeks to highlight critical socio-economic elements of the energy transition that relate to empowering people and promoting just and equitable transitions: skills, inclusivity and workforce development. This initiative aims to convene a dialogue that expands the conversation taking place within existing technology-oriented CEM initiatives, and to develop solutions relevant to those initiatives’ goals. It will bring together relevant people and partners to share best practices between CEM members, companies and partner organisations. This includes providing a platform for underrepresented and marginalised voices – to bring forward novel approaches and diverse perspectives needed to move the needle on achieving a just and equitable transition for a clean energy future. Among its goal, the initiative will highlight different policy mixes to support workers and communities and advocate for inclusiveness and diversity in HR policies.
IEA Technology Collaboration Programmes (TCPs)
The IEA TCPs support the work of independent, international groups of experts and industries to lead programmes and projects on a variety of energy technologies and related issues. A number of IEA TCPs foster cooperation on social dimensions of clean energy, including the Users TCP, providing insights on the design, social acceptance and usability of clean energy technologies, and the Wind TCP, examining social acceptance of renewables infrastructure. The Users TCP focusses on the vital role of people in energy technology systems and sees user-centred energy systems as critical for delivering socially and politically acceptable energy transitions. For example, the Users TCP has launched a Behavioural Insights Platform, which brings together government policy makers and other experts to share knowledge and experiences applying behavioural insights to energy policy.
UK COP26 Energy Transition Council
In the lead-up to COP26 in Glasgow in November 2021, the UK government, in its role as COP26 Presidency, announced that it would launch the COP26 Energy Transition Council, which will support developing countries as they transition away from coal to cleaner sources of electricity. The Council will use its platform to increase co-operation among governments and institutions to find solutions to address the technical, economic and social dimensions of clean energy transitions. Priority areas identified by the Council include: promoting clean power as the preferred choice for new generation capacity, developing policy frameworks to attract private investment into clean energy, supporting coal-dependent communities secure a just transition, and ensuring universal access to sustainable, affordable energy. The Council is chaired by COP26 President, Alok Sharma, and the UN Secretary General’s Special Representative for Sustainable Energy, Damilola Ogunbiyi. The first meeting of the Council took place in December 2020, attended by ministers and senior officials from 21 countries and international organisations.
G20 complementary concept of energy security and cooperation in clean energy transitions under Italian presidency
The Italian G20 presidency of 2021 placed a complementary concept of energy security and cooperation at the core of clean energy transitions, which included a people-centred dimension for the first time. This initiative resulted in a G20 joint communiqué, which expanded the definition of energy security in the context of clean energy transitions, to consider “the needs for just and inclusive transitions that put individuals and society at the center.”
EU initiative for coal regions in transition in the Western Balkans and Ukraine
The EU in December 2020 launched an initiative to help coal regions in six neighbouring EU countries undertake a just transition from coal towards a carbon-neutral economy. At least 17 regions in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Ukraine with significant coal mining activities and coal-based energy production are eligible to participate on a voluntary basis. The initiative offers an open platform for region-wide multi-stakeholder dialogue to share experiences, knowledge and best practices on the transition, and region-to-region exchanges with EU counterparts. The selected pilot regions will be able to access dedicated trainings through a Coal Academy, technical assistance in the development of transition roadmaps, and receive support to access financing opportunities. Since 2021, the initiative’s secretariat in Brussels has facilitated its implementation and ensures stakeholder collaboration. It is managed by the European Commission and six collaborating international partners, building on the existing EU initiative for coal regions in transition, to reinforce and complement implementation of the European Green Deal and the achievement of a just transition out of coal in Europe.
EBRD just transition initiative
The EBRD’s just transition initiative will help its countries of operation achieve clean and inclusive transitions. Since 2006, the EBRD has undertaken EUR 34 billion in green financing for more than 1 900 projects as well as EUR 7 billion for inclusion projects. The just transition initiative will focus on three priority areas: 1) a green economy transition; 2) supporting workers; and 3) regional economic development. The work will build off the bank’s expertise in promoting economic inclusion by harnessing private sector investments and undertaking policy engagement to promote structural changes. Moreover, the EBRD is also piloting targeted strategic support initiatives for select national and regional authorities based on transition challenges and opportunities. Such efforts will greatly support countries that require additional economic assistance to undertaken inclusive transitions. For example, the EBRD invested PLN 240 million (EUR 55 million) in a bond issued by one of Poland’s largest energy companies to pursue a decarbonisation strategy that must include a programme to address the regional social impacts of coal plant closures.