Just. Adjective: fair to all concerned. That’s how my Oxford Dictionary defines the word ‘just’. So in turn, that means a ‘just transition’ must be fair to all concerned in that transition.
It really is as simple as that – and as complicated. Because in terms of the energy transition, to be fair to ‘all concerned’ is to be fair to every citizen in Europe.
Energy is a people industry. It’s easy to forget that amid international deals between multi-national companies. But it’s an industry that fundamentally affects the lives of people at the most basic, emotional level.
At the end of every piece of multi-million power generation equipment and grid technology is someone reaching for a light switch. And whether those lights come on – and whether that person believes they can afford to pay for those lights to come on – affects their everyday life, their hopes, and their dreams.
Society already has its ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ in terms of energy, and the gap between the two must not be allowed to widen. Don’t think energy poverty is a developing-world- problem. It’s alive and well and thriving on our doorsteps in Europe, and if we get the energy transition wrong, it will get worse.
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A just energy transition vs rising inequality
Which means the stakes could not be higher for the European Union and every stakeholder involved in the energy transition. And it will take all of them, working together, to deliver a just transition. Leadership – or at least the best kind of leadership – is a collective endeavour. It’s a team effort. And we at Enlit Europe want to be on that team.
We call ourselves ‘the inclusive guide to the energy transition’. The most important – and problematic – word there is ‘inclusive’. Because it’s hard to be inclusive. To be holistic. To give a voice to everyone.
Meanwhile, it’s easy to be exclusive and elitist. We choose not to be. A just transition isn’t an aspiration or a target. It’s a responsibility. It’s a duty of care. And we care enough about that duty to put inclusivity, authenticity and fairness at the heart of everything that we do.
This energy transition may turn out to be a just-in-time transition in terms of combating climate change. We must ensure that it is also a morally and financially fair one too.