While limiting fossil fuel use will likely bring a multitude of societal benefits – related to reduced climate risks, sustainable economic growth, air quality and human health – it is important to recognize that not everyone will benefit equally from a transition to a low-carbon economy. In particular, those who rely on fossil fuel production for their livelihood, or who were anticipating using fossil-fuelled energy to meet development needs, may carry a disproportionate share of the burdens of an energy transition.

The need for a “just transition” to a low-carbon economy is gaining traction in climate policy and political discourse. There has been little analysis, however, of whether current transition policies meet equity goals embedded in the concept of a just transition. Will they reinforce existing inequalities, such as the under-representation of women and other marginalized groups in fossil fuel governance and employment? Will transition programmes simply transfer biases from one industry to another, without addressing the underlying norms and practices that drive inequality? More broadly, are existing policies attending to the needs of those who are most disadvantaged by the energy transition?

The brief’s authors consider these questions as they examine the equity dimensions of just transition policies at the national and regional level. They focus specifically on two countries — the US and Thailand — to highlight key considerations and opportunities for improving justice and equity outcomes in transition policy and planning.