A just transition is about realising that change needs to occur, but ensuring that the change is managed to protect those who are most affected.
In terms of climate change, it means understanding that we have a very limited amount of time left to phase out coal if we want to maintain a safe climate, but also recognising that phasing out coal will have a big impact on people who live in coal mining areas and work in the industry, so a transition away from coal needs to involve these communities and address their concerns.
The government needs to act fast to implement a transition plan for those working in the coal industry.There needs to be a guarantee of quality jobs for all in alternative industries including renewable energy. Investment in the coal industry is very likely to fall in response to climate change. Unless there is already a plan in place to deal with this it will be left to workers and communities to shoulder the burden. We need to start thinking about the future now.
A just transition is also about recognising the negative impacts of coal mining on health, water and other industries in local communities. Coal-affected communities need a just-transition too.
If you want to know more, here are a few relevant reports on making a just transition:
A report on the issues facing coal communities put together by the office of Greens member of NSW State Parliament Lee Rhiannon.
The University of Newcastle’s Centre of Full Employment and Equity compiled this report that is specifically focused on how the Hunter region can adapt to a green economy and phase out coal whilst creating jobs.
A report by the Candian Labour Congress on what a just transition should entail.
A report from the listening tour of coal affected communities in Queensland