In 2022, climate justice moved from the fringes towards the centre of global policy debates. This briefing provides a review of the varied ways in which just decarbonisation has become more central in recent climate and energy legislation in the US and the EU.
Progress on “justice”, but more to do
The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) in the US as well as the Fit for 55 legislative package in the EU acknowledge the need to protect disadvantaged and vulnerable communities and help them transition to clean energy. Moreover, both pieces of legislation back up their rhetoric with financial provisions, of similar size and scope, to support disadvantaged communities through the transition.
These initiatives are a clear step forward from previous policies. But they differ in legacy, language, and content. And they do not do enough to reduce the exposure of vulnerable groups to fossil fuels and their harm to people and the planet.
Limits to delivery – a learning opportunity
Both jurisdictions, especially the EU, are too centred on how to distribute the new funds. This can difficult the delivery when pro-climate action local governments stand against more laggard state or national ones.
The individual strengths and shared weaknesses of the two pieces of policy are actually grounds for learning and collaboration between the EU and the US. This collaboration can take us beyond the current finger-pointing towards synchronised and more equitable climate action.
A shared positive agenda for just decarbonisation
The US and the EU should work together in shaping a positive agenda for “just decarbonisation” that benefits the most vulnerable and disadvantaged populations on both sides of the Atlantic. In addition to funding and compensation, this should also include a currently missing piece: how disadvantaged groups will have more agency in the transition.
2023 will show whether the two long-standing allies can move past green protectionism to start an upward cycle that keeps equity and justice front and centre on the decarbonisation agenda.
Download this briefing paper on the opportunity for cooperation between the EU and the US that a just decarbonisation can bring.