Social Goals for the European Green Deal – How can we ensure a Just Transition?

In light of global warming, the occurrence of extreme weather events, the radically growing energy prices and the EU’s dependence on oil and gas, now more than ever, we must strengthen all efforts to make the transition to a carbon-free and sustainable economy and society a reality in Europe and beyond. However, the transition to a carbon-free Europe can only be successful if it also tackles the systemic socio-economic injustices at the root of the climate and environmental crises, such as inequalities based on income and wealth. Inequalities that are exacerbated by the disproportionate impact of climate change and environmental degradation on marginalised groups and people in vulnerable situations.

All actions aimed at advancing the green transition in Europe must, therefore, address environmental and socio-economic issues simultaneously and help achieve both true sustainability and social justice. Moreover, we must ensure that the transition as a process is fair, inclusive and democratic in nature, and that it is driven by the following values and principles:

  • Solidarity among all social groups, countries and regions.
  • Well-being and global justice for all, not just the few, within the planetary boundaries.
  • Intersectionality, to address all the dimensions of socio-economic inequalities.
  • Meaningful democratic participation to guarantee the voice of all in policy-making at all levels.

Since its launch in December 2019, the European Green Deal (EGD), the EU’s strategy to reach climate neutrality by 2050, has led to a legislative firestorm and to the concretisation of several initiatives aimed at making the transition just and inclusive. The EGD is supposed to have a strong social dimension closely aligned with the European Pillar of Social Rights, the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals. But is the EGD social enough? Do policies and other actions under the EGD sufficiently consider their social impact? Do they tackle the root causes of climate change and environmental degradation? Are transition strategies and measures at national or local level fair and just?

It is against this backdrop and with these questions in mind that the tool “Social Goals for the European Green Deal – How can we ensure a Just Transition?” was developed in the framework of the European Alliance for a Just Transition, an informal coalition of like-minded European stakeholders. This document provides a value-based framework for the EGD and all other strategies on climate and environment in Europe. It highlights a number of social goals that should underpin all decisions around the green transition to ensure that it is just and inclusive. In addition, it provides a list of questions that allows the reader to verify whether a certain policy or other kind of measure meets the criteria outlined, this way facilitating analysis and participation at all levels.