Enabling the green and just transition

Principles for effective governance

To combat climate change and its effects, the EU and the rest of the world need to transition towards a net-zero economy. This agenda has been already endorsed by the EU, as set out in the European Green Deal. However, the transition needs to be based on fairness to ensure continued public support and benefit both people and planet.

The process of transition entails navigating tensions and trade-offs. For example, the decline of industries reliant on fossil fuels can have a negative impact on employment, and rising energy prices can disproportionately affect low-income households.  In addition, the complex nature of this issue may give rise to connected governance challenges, such as aligning short- and long-term goals and needs. If not well managed, these can jeopardise the success of the transition.

Most research tends to focus on what policies can support the transition, there is less about the ‘how’ – the governance dimension of the green and just transition. This report seeks to fill this gap by asking how the EU institutions can be equipped to develop policies through effective policymaking for managing tensions and trade-offs.

Through research and interviews with topic experts, ZOE Institute developed a framework for effective governance of the green and just transition. These principles can be divided into ‘foundations’ and ‘enablers’.  The first are the conditions for good policies, and the second are the practices that can be applied to create them.

This report also highlights some of the tools and structures that exist in EU policymaking to support the application of the enablers. While the EU Commission has many such tools, a multidimensional perspective is essential to consider these enablers together when deciding on which ones to use throughout the policy design cycle.  

This framework can act as a guide for policymaking and identify gaps in specific processes by recognising enablers that are missing or insufficiently used.  With better, more integrated policy processes, tensions, and trade-offs can be better managed, leading to a just transition: a win-win for people and planet. 

Associated topics
Rethinking Policy Design

ZOE Authors