Tuesday, 26 Oct 2021  |  Reading time:  12 mins  | Read online

Local authorities on the journey to COP26:
Shaping a just and fair

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In recent years, you’ve probably heard the term ‘just transition’ used in the context of reaching net zero, but what does it really mean? Fundamentally, a just transition focuses on making sure that our efforts to tackle climate change don’t end up disempowering people vulnerable to losing out, such as already marginalised groups or workers in a certain industry. Instead, a just transition ensures that the benefits of a green economy transition are shared fairly, pairing environmental sustainability concerns with goals of decent work, social inclusion and poverty eradication. To end up with a just outcome, it's also important to have a just process, making engagement and inclusivity in decision-making crucial.  

As the impacts of climate change become increasingly evident with every passing year, it’s important to recognise that communities are faced with transitioning on three fronts:

  • to the direct environmental impacts as well as the indirect political, economic and social impacts of the climate crisis
  • to the impacts that will arise from the economic transition in response to the climate crisis
  • to the changes required in neighbourhoods and to lifestyles to meet these challenges.

With COP26 just around the corner, this is an important opportunity to demonstrate to the world the importance of local places in catalysing a green recovery from Covid-19 and a just transition to net zero – and that for communities to adapt and thrive in a climate-changing world, the next phase of decarbonisation needs to put questions of resilience, justice and agency at its heart.

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This week's featured content

Just transition:
Putting communities at the heart of the transition to net zero

Video and words by Alice Creasy, LGIU

Watch: Our 3-minute video clearly sets out what a just transition means, why it is such a crucial topic right now and how local governments can play their part.

Read: With the impacts of climate change worsening with every passing year, this briefing draws on two recent reports which explore the challenges facing communities, as well as the opportunities from building a local climate commons in the transition to net zero.

LGIU Global Local Highlights


Bundle: Shaping a just and fair transition

What does a just transition mean for local government? This bundle brings together international perspectives on a fair environmental and economic transition, plus case studies from Shetland to Copenhagen.
Read our content.

Shaping a just and fair transition: International perspectives think local

When central government hesitates and shows a lack of ambition and willingness to act, subnational climate action becomes even more imperative. This briefing highlights the vital role of local government in driving forward climate action, both in a leadership and delivery capacity. 
Read our briefing.

Online Training: Effective local climate governance after COP26

We’re running a free online workshop on 8 November about delivering local climate action. This workshop will use case studies from across the UK to explore frameworks for effective local climate governance. 
Click here to find out more and register for this event.

Innovation & Inspiration

Curated case studies and news from around the globe

England: Just transition priorities for London identified through listening campaign

More than 700 Londoners shared their thoughts on what climate and Covid-19 recovery actions should be prioritised to make London a just transition city during a four-month listening campaign last year. Two priority goals for the current mayoral term were identified: generating 60,000 good green jobs and apprenticeships and improving energy efficiency in 100,000 fuel poor homes. Other recommendations include forming a just transition taskforce, partnering with local authorities to retrofit properties and making sure green jobs are accessible to people from diverse and low-income backgrounds.
Institute for Public Policy Research & London Citizens

Related: European municipalities share just transition projects from green energy cooperatives to awareness partnerships with trusted institutions mPOWER / Josephine Valeske

Australia: Proactive long-term planning essential for a just fossil fuel labour transition, report finds

The Australian labour market could transition away from fossil fuel jobs without severe disruption, as long as governments immediately focus on a proactive and fair transition, a report by the Centre for Future Work argues. A just transition requires a clear long-term timeline, generous retraining and diversification policies, and measures facilitating inter-industry mobility, the report finds. The report highlights previous Australian economic transitions, along with lessons from successful energy transitions in Germany, Canada, Spain, and the USA.
Centre for Future Work / Jim Stanford

Related: Just Transition Fund offers coal transition blueprint and USA case studies to aid municipal leaders Just Transition Fund / Emily Rhodes

USA: Major urban solar farm planned to bring jobs and justice to former landfill site

An urban solar farm capable of powering 5,000 to 10,000 homes will be built at a former City of Houston landfill and waste incinerator site next year. Located in a historically Black neighbourhood, the landfill and incinerator emitted pollutants that have been linked with severe health issues faced by residents. The new solar farm will include a community-owned solar array offering discounted power, an aquaponics hub and agricultural training centre to improve access to fresh food, and a solar education facility. At least 10 percent of solar installation jobs will go to residents, supported by training.
NRDC.org / Maudlyne Ihejirika

Related: Pilot tool forecasts local climate changes, examines health impacts and recommends adaptation actions European Centre for Environment and Human Health

Germany: Community gardens in former industrial centre create new ways to connect

The City of Dortmund has trialled urban agriculture projects over the last decade to bring people together in the Hörde district: a former steel centre with high unemployment. The council installed raised beds with free herbs and vegetables on city streets, ran home gardening workshops and created new allotments. Some initiatives proved unsuccessful due to heavy industry’s impact on local soil. However, local residents continue to tend planting beds and grow crops to donate to vulnerable people. The council intends to expand the project to the rest of Dortmund.
Eurocities / Alex Godson

Related: Sustainable growing workshops help Ugandan community impacted by flooding and pandemic to adapt their livelihoods ICLEI Africa

Events & Case Studies

We've brought together a selection of just transition events taking place before and after COP26, along with case studies to help you to take action.


The London School of Economics and Political Science is running a virtual conference from 25 to 27 October that focuses on financing the just transition. The conference aims to bring together some of the key activities underway to mobilise the financial sector in support of a just transition, ahead of COP26 in Glasgow.

More than 20 Scottish organisations have joined forces for this free, one-day conference that will not only examine the speed and scale at which Scotland must move to tackle climate change, but also ensure that no-one is left behind in the process.

LGIU is holding a climate emergency workshop on 2 December to provide an introduction for elected members and officers involved in developing responses and an opportunity to share ideas and best practice.

Inspirational case studies 

Greenpeace highlights a successful case study from Scotland. The Scottish Government invested £12 billion in a Transition Training Fund that supports unemployed people and provides opportunities to upskill and retain workers. 85% of the people who accessed the fund found new jobs.

The International Institute for Sustainable Development highlights four case studies from Poland to Egypt where countries have looked to adopt the just transition approach.

The Agora Energiewende think tank held an online workshop earlier this year that presented up-to-date plans and learning from key just transition case studies in countries across the world.

Interested in other LGIU Global content?

Post-COP26 briefing: 19 November

Join us as we consider the key outcomes from the COP26 conference, with a specific focus on what they mean for local authorities and how they can be practically achieved and delivered. This virtual event is run in partnership with the Heseltine Institute for Public Policy, Practice and Place at the University of Liverpool.
Find out more and sign up here.

Urban flooding – a view from Scotland

Urban flooding is a pressing challenge for local authorities across the world. Kirsty MacRae from the Scottish Flood Forum writes about the situation in Scottish cities and explores what can be done to address this issue going forward. 
Read this new blog here.

Thanks for reading!

Our final monthly COP26 newsletter will examine the key messages from the conference for local government. Make sure you’re signed up to our 'Climate action and sustainable development' topic or the 'Global Local Recap' in your preferences to get the next edition at the end of November.

Next week's edition of the Global Local Recap will look at how local governments can best support people involved in the justice system, highlighting innovative approaches and international examples.

Want more content? Visit our website to access our Global Local briefings, blogs, podcast and more.

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