Managing a Sustainable Transition to a low-GHG Economy 

 

Policies that target mitigation of emissions can inevitably have both expected and unexpected, desirable and undesirable, socio-economic impacts. To raise ambition and support for mitigation policies, negative impacts should be effectively identified and addressed. 

Climate change, as a great challenge facing humanity, needs to be addressed urgently, with great efficacy as well as efficiency, and in a sustainable way. The achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement negotiated in 2015, increasingly higher efforts and faster transitions to low-carbon societies and economies are required by all Parties.

Policies that target mitigation of emissions can inevitably have both expected and unexpected, desirable and undesirable, socio-economic impacts. The positive impacts are known as co-benefits, and should be welcomed as additional arguments for the raison d’être of the mitigation policies. Other impacts can be negative, and should be identified and addressed effectively in order to mitigate their negative socio-economic consequences.

Some will see the negative impacts through the lens of competitiveness, while others will see it as an issue of economic diversification, distributional effects, changing production processes, changing employment structures or a combination of these factors.  

The fundamental issue is how to ensure that a countries’ low-carbon transition is managed in such a way that it keeps the harmony between all three pillars of sustainability – integrity of environmental protection, economic growth that leads to better life standards, as well as social solidarity and cohesion.

For countries committed to fighting climate change, it is important that holistic plans and flanking measures will be put in place that are aimed to mitigate these negative socio-economic impacts and provide support for companies and its employers in order to help them transition in a sustainable way. Doing this successfully will increase support for mitigation policies, and will ultimately be crucial to allow for the increase in ambition necessary to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement. 

The members of the ERCST team have a number of years of experience, on sectoral, national and UNFCCC level, in dealing with the issues of a sustainable transition and the negative socio-economic impacts associated with mitigation policies. They will continue to work with great interest on the topic and provide research and neutral places for policy-makers and stakeholders to meet and discuss how to succesfully manage the transition towards a sustainable future.