Making the Transitions Affordable for all
Decarbonising the global economy is the primary means of tackling global warming. However, it also implies a disruptive change process which can be costly for social groups already at risk. The social impact of adaptation and mitigation policies has become clear and there is a growing need to reconcile social justice and environmental sustainability goals. Cities have a clear role to play in achieving these goals.
There is a pressing need to identify practical ‒ and just ‒ policy solutions able to inspire locally driven low-carbon transitions in EU cities. Recognising the urgency, the UIA has led a two-year policy review (2021-2023) to explore a sample of projects run by cities to support just transitions so that no one is left behind.
The review identifies city-level good practices. It teases out useful policy insights to help urban policy practitioners and managing authorities with the challenges of making Just Transitions a reality in their territories. In this regards, the study focuses on three main key topics: It
- Skills for a Green urban future.
- Accessible and Affordable Green City for All.
- Democratic and Green Transitions.
The review looked at some 86 UIA projects working under 14 topics; it involved an in-depth review of 10 UIA projects and of 1 URBACT city, a literature review, and interviews with key witnesses.
The present report presents the findings of the in-depth case studies for the Accessible and Affordable Green City for All topic. It provides background information and concrete solutions to the challenge of inventing the green city in a way that is both accessible and affordable to all. This report:
- Presents the main issues and the role of cities in the EU policy context, together with the major barriers they face (Table 6 presents the barriers considered).
- Details the Promising Practices implemented by 11 cities.
- Translates the lessons into a set of recommendations for cities keen to implement Just Transitions inspired policies.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stressed once more in its latest report the tremendous scale of the impact of human activity on climate change and the need to implement immediate solutions (IPCC, 2022). It is now known that conventional approaches to increasing energy-efficiency and limit climate impact are not sufficient (European Environment Agency, 2019). Green transitions are not an option anymore and need to be on their way.
The process of transitioning from a carbon-based economy to a non-polluting economy implies systemic change which includes all citizens, therefore focusing on those who have been excluded to ensure equitable opportunities for all. In recent years, the growing use of the Just Transitions concept has resulted in more expansive definitions from environmental, human rights and labor organisations so that it includes wider concerns such as poverty, racism, sexism, indigenous rights, food and energy justice, and overall global inequality. We refer to “just transition” in a holistic manner, which encompasses the need to end the extractive economy and create pathways for green, healthy, thriving, and connected local economies.
UIA has funded 86 urban innovation projects in this programming period. These have been spread across the 14 identified call topics, closely aligned with the priorities of the Urban Agenda for the EU.
Just Transitions was not one of the UIA’s call themes. Consequently, this has not been the focus on the ten case studies presented here. Rather, they have utilised their resources under the banner of Energy Transitions, Climate Change Adaptation, Circular Economy or other topics.