An Ethos for Our Just Energy Transition

Blog Post
Jan. 31, 2024

The most recent United Nations Climate Change Conference, known as COP28, concluded with high stakes and high drama, against a backdrop of extreme climate events and the hottest year ever recorded. Filled with contradictions and influenced by a circus of oil interests, nevertheless COP28 gave us an agreement to phase down fossil fuels—but absent clear guide posts on how to achieve it.

Our transition away from fossils is happening now, but how we get there remains uncharted. If we stumble our way there without justice and equity at the center, we risk perpetuating the same exploitation and injustice patterns of fossil fuels, increasing harms and perpetuating resource curse scenarios in resource rich communities, and giving credence to interests actively working against climate action. In this landscape, promises are many but concrete actions are few. To achieve a just energy transition that leaves no one behind, we need to bridge the crosscutting challenges of climate, energy, and justice.

Making a Just Energy Transition Achievable

We need systemic innovation and transformation. To navigate the territory of a just energy transition successfully, we must adopt innovative approaches that address the systemic inequities surrounding climate impacts, energy access and security, and resource extraction and use. At the heart of this transformative process is the recognition that personal experiences can hold a unique power in shaping how we describe and understand energy transition. We need to move beyond technical jargon and policy discussions, and draw on diverse, personal stories that resonate on a human level. By tapping into these experiences, we can create connections that can foster a shared understanding of the challenges, generate passion and commitment, and inspire collective action. 

The usual silos of expertise are no longer sufficient to address the multifaceted nature of our energy transition and climate crisis. It’s time for experts to become storytellers, weaving narratives that bridge gaps between policy details and lived experiences, that make our climate reality relatable and understandable, while highlighting community-centered solutions. It’s time for a more inclusive conversation about how we transition towards a sustainable energy future that is equitable and accessible to all. It’s time to highlight how energy access and paradigms for resource extraction and use shape people’s lives locally and globally—across the Global North and Global South. This is how we create a sense of shared responsibility and empathy, motivating individuals and policymakers alike to actively pursue lasting solutions that first help those who are most affected. 

From Local Voices to Global Policy Forums

We live in a globally interconnected society. Understanding the geopolitical landscape is essential to overcoming obstacles and propelling the world toward a sustainable and equitable net-zero future. To unpack necessary political approaches, we must first understand the power dynamics at play. While global agreements, like COP28, signal progress towards a future without fossil fuels, they often depend on strategic ambiguity that allows for differing interpretations, reflecting the diverse interests of nations. Geopolitics, often relegated to the sidelines in climate negotiations, emerges as a critical factor influencing the pace and success of our energy transition and climate responses.

Achieving a just energy transition demands political strategies that prioritize justice and equity, ensuring that those most vulnerable are not left behind. In this pursuit, fostering collaboration, co-creation, and dialogue become paramount. The exchange of ideas, experiences, and solutions on a global scale is instrumental in overcoming challenges and propelling the energy transition forward. 

A Platform for Innovation and Inclusion

The Centre for Public Impact (CPI) and New America are taking the first step towards creating a platform for innovation, learning, and inclusion as a catalyst for climate and energy solutions. Our collaborative event brings together New America’s thought leadership and CPI’s action learning dialogues and experimentation approach—taking idea generation to the next level, while nurturing relationships and strategies that can inspire and inform future actions. Our approach is rooted in the core values of decolonization, learning, and generosity. We aim to actively recognize and address the power dynamics driving our energy and climate discourse, ensuring that the voices of those most impacted are heard and influence decision-making processes. 

In the endeavor to move towards meaningful just energy solutions, we are offering space for critical reflection, genuine dialogue, and creative exchange and generation of ideas. Picture this: thought leaders, policymakers, community champions, and activists from different parts of the world, all converging in one dynamic space to break down the prevailing narratives on our global energy transition, foster synergy, and catalyze the shaping of new ideas grounded in expertise and animated by the goals of justice and inclusion. Beyond a platform for ideas, we aim to co-create solutions that can respond to and serve the unique challenges and opportunities facing communities and to help set the agenda for an ongoing series of work—moving towards a future where our energy transition is just, inclusive, and empowering.