This year, the Welsh Government is aiming to develop a framework for a Just Transition.  We welcome the opportunity to contribute their Call for Evidence.

At Regen, we are placing a Just Transition at the forefront of our thinking. See Regen’s response to Call for Evidence on this below.

Houses in Welsh valleys

The Welsh Government is leading the way on social and environmental policymaking. The Wellbeing of Future Generations Act (2015) set out an ambitious vision for a healthier, resilient, more equal Wales. It legally requires public bodies to work to these long-term goals via collaboration, citizen involvement and integrated holistic thinking.

The recent Call for Evidence on what a Just Transition means for Wales is a great opportunity to build from these principles, with an energy focus. We are already working with Wales on the development of their Heat Strategy, which has a Just Transition at its core, as well as supporting the Scottish Government on key Just Transition policies. We look forward to seeing how this consultation progresses, to create a fairer and more sustainable future for all.

Below are some of the key highlights from Regen’s input into the recent Call for Evidence.

What is a Just Transition?: A just transition was historically associated with protecting the rights of workers in high-carbon industries as we shift to low-carbon technologies and solutions. However, the term today has broadened to include workers, citizens, and communities – an energy system transition which is fair for all. The Welsh government is adhering to this school of thought.
As we navigate the transition, we must ensure that societal inequalities are not exacerbated in the process. Without careful planning and consideration, there is a very real risk that the shift to a decarbonised economy could deepen existing inequalities, leaving some groups even more marginalised. This is why developing our understanding of a just transition and building it into policy processes is so important.
At its core, a Just Transition is about ensuring that the shift to cleaner energy sources doesn’t leave anyone behind. It also presents an opportunity to undo the systemic injustices that have been enforced by the current fossil fuel paradigm. If we get this right, everyone can prosper in a clean energy system.
“[Internationally,] there is no universally accepted definition of a ‘just transition’… However, there are consistent themes emerging from the policy approaches that countries and regions have taken towards a just transition. These include the creation of a coordinating framework, long-term planning, capacity building and funds.” Just Transition to Net Zero Wales: Call for Evidence

1. Principles for a Just Transition should be co-designed with citizens and communities.

Delivering a Just Transition means clearly defining the foundational principles and outcomes that are being worked towards as early as possible. What does ‘fairness’ mean in the Welsh context? What do different citizens, groups and communities need to be able to benefit and participate in the energy transition?

Citzens’ juries and assemblies are well-placed to help develop foundational principles for a Just Transition that help to shape all subsequent decisions. Such deliberative processes are becoming increasingly prominent in energy and wider policy decision-making, and can lead to decisions directly informed by citizens, making for fairer and more sustainable solutions.

Beyond designing these foundational principles, it is also imperative to understand how decisions impact different groups through well thought out engagement, especially where there is a need for people to change their behaviours or use new services. Meaningful engagement should be embedded in a citizen-first approach to policy making. Evidence shows this is effective compared to polices designed at a distance.[1]

The Welsh Government states in the call for evidence that they would “embed engagement with the public, businesses and communities” in the Just Transition framework. It is critical that this is not a tick-box exercise, but a deliberate co-design process, eliminating barriers to involvement for often-excluded people and places.

See Section 1: Governance of our response for more.

2. Understanding opportunities and impacts

Those who are already disadvantaged in society are at the highest risk of being left behind in the shift to a cleaner energy system. Different people and places also face their own unique challenges. For example, the cost of living crisis is affecting people in rural Wales differently, with many areas of rural Wales having limited access to energy and transport infrastructure. They are often reliant on expensive oil or petroleum heating, while also living in less fabric efficient housing.

Without proper consideration, meaningful engagement and analysis of distributional implications of policy and targets, some groups may not reap the benefits of the changes that a net zero transition brings to their homes, communities, and lives.

This means building those foundational Just Transition principles across sectors into renewable energy target setting, policy planning and development processes to ensure that the transition delivers as much social and economic value to people and places as possible in a fair and just way.

“Delivering a just transition will mean, that as we move to a cleaner, stronger, fairer Wales, we leave no-one behind. We will develop a clear understanding of the impacts of change, positive and negative, and how to make sure these are fairly distributed in society.”  Just Transition to Net Zero Wales: Call for Evidence

3. Supporting local actors and organisations

Reaching and representing people in typically excluded groups or communities can prove challenging, particularly for central or devolved governments fom a distance. As such, leveraging local actors and organisations can help to ensure those groups are better involved. Local energy approaches more broadly, such as those encourage by the Welsh Government to reach their ambition of 1GW locally-owned energy by 2030, can also provide new opportunities to tailor energy solutions and initiatives to local need.

Trusted intermediaries

Trusted intermediary organisations like community energy groups and fuel poverty charities are vital components of a decarbonised energy system. In addition to developing projects, they facilitate a just transition by better identifying and involving excluded and/or vulnerable groups, supporting them through new measures or initiatives, and advocating for their needs in policy processes. They can also be a route to channeling community benefit into e.g. local energy efficiency programmes, skills development or crisis support.

However, community energy organisations have so far operated largely voluntarily, and have struggled to develop new business models since the Feed-in Tariff wound down. Other local intermediary organisations also struggle in a competitive, short-term funding environment.

Social infrastructure, like healthcare providers, are well placed to play the trusted intermediary role too. Brynwhilach 4MW solar farm is owned by the health board and connected by private wire to a Swansea hospital, critically saving cash on electricity bills. Welsh charity Care & Repair Cymru, works with multiple hospitals to identify specifically older patients with housing problems (not limited to warmth) offering ‘free healthy homes checks’ and referring them to available support.

Reflecting on the role these organisations could play for just outcomes, there is a need to consider more secure, longer-term resources and support for trusted local intermediaries. To support more locally-owned energy ambitions, there is also a need to advocate for more lucrative local and community energy business models in discussions with UK Government.

Local authorities

The Climate Change Committee’s Sixth Carbon Budget highlights that local authorities are pivotal in the net zero transition[2]. Local authorities are also well-placed to overcome justice issues in the net zero transition, in that they have access to a vast range of building stock such as social housing, access to a range of finance options, connections with local people and organisations, and a democratic mandate for action.

For this role, local authorities are not equally equipped to deliver their own local energy plans or systems, with resourcing constraints and a need for more consistent upskilling. Some local areas are far better placed than others, creating a potential regional inequality.

As such, there is a need to provide local authorities with sufficient funding and guidance to ensure that they have the resource and knowledge to develop and deliver a local energy plan that suits their own energy needs, in collaboration with local people, stakeholders, supply chains and industry.

There’s more detail in these topics in our response. See page 7 for more on trusted intermediaries, page 15 on local ownership and its challenges, and page 26 on the role of social infrastructure.

These are just some of the key points from our consultation response.

Overall, what is clear is that while we strive for a much needed speedy transition, it is essential that we better understand the intersection of energy and justice, to ensure that people are brought along on this journey and can participate and benefit in a fair way. We look forward to the Welsh Government’s framework to pull this together, backed by the long-term planning, capacity building and funding it ultimately needs.

[1] The role of energy democracy and energy citizenship for participatory energy transitions: A comprehensive review – ScienceDirect

[2] UK Climate Change Committee, 2020:





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