Simon Maxwell

Keep in touch!

Fairness and opportunity: A people-powered plan for the green transition

Fairness and opportunity: A people-powered plan for the green transition

The final report of the IPPRInstitute for Public Policy Research (London) Environmental Justice Commission



The reports of IPPRInstitute for Public Policy Research (London) Commissions are always interesting. The last one I reviewed was the Report of the Commission on Economic Justice, in 2018. The latest one, with some of the same cast of characters, but chaired this time by Hilary Benn, Caroline Lucas and Laura Sandys, is the report of the Environmental Justice Commission, ‘Fairness and opportunity: A people-powered plan for the green transition’.

There is a growing pile of contributions on this topic, and I would say the IPPRInstitute for Public Policy Research (London) Report fits within the progressive mainstream, focused on speedy, equitable and democratic transformation. Call this a just transition or a green new deal – and see contributions by, among others, citizens’ juries in the UK and France, political initiatives in the UK and the US (reviewed here), and recent books by Ann Pettifor, Naomi Klein, Ed Miliband and Gordon Brown, among many others. There are nuances and variations in the different proposals, but put them together and it is possible to see a consensus. The IPPRInstitute for Public Policy Research (London) Commission summarises six big shifts, as in Figure 1, proposes a new social contract, as in Figure 2, and offer a package of solutions, ranging from new oversight bodies and legal frameworks to new spending on climate, nature, and support to households and individuals. There are useful graphics on each area of policy, reproduced for ease of reference at the end of this note.

Figure 1

The case for change: Six big shifts

Figure 2

A new social contract

The IPPRInstitute for Public Policy Research (London) Report is wide-ranging and ambitious, made good use of citizen panels, and is both pointed and practical in its recommendations (‘A People’s Dividend’, ‘A Fairness Lock’, ‘A Climate and Nature Assembly’, ‘A Well-being of Future Generations Act’, ‘A Right to Retrain’). As usual with these kinds of reports, it would have been good to have a bit more on priorities and sequencing. It will be interesting to see how many of these ideas surface in the UK Government’s forthcoming strategy for Net Zero.

Of special value is the chapter on ‘Our Place in the World’. This is one of the stronger offerings in the field, in the summary for policy-makers, but also in Chapter 7 of the main report. Quite often, the international dimension of green deal plans is restricted to a bit more money and a bit of technology transfer. Here we have both of those, but also: a strong focus on consumption emissions, not just territorial emissions, with a call for a consumption emissions target, written into law; a new due diligence law, modelled on the French ‘Duty of Vigilance Act’, requiring multinationals to audit their supply chains and ensure high environmental standards; border carbon adjustments sensitive to developing country needs; and strategic use of trade policy, including environmental conditionality in trade agreements, as well as advocacy for new rules at the WTO.

Whether this goes far enough is a key question for the development community. Personally, a recurrent refrain, I do not think I does. What is really needed is a bottom-up approach, building on the climate compatible development plans of developing countries, making sure these are reflected in conditional and unconditional NDCs submitted to the UNFCCC, and then providing guarantees that the implementation of these will be supported. Many of the transition issues identified for the UK in the IPPRInstitute for Public Policy Research (London) report apply equally to developing countries – and would benefit from international support. For example: a big initiative to green supply chains, with regulation on measurement, reporting and certification of Scopes 1, 2 and 3 emissions (on this see our work at ODIOverseas Development Institute (London) on Counting Carbon); a big investment in building technological capability, not just to use technology but to invent and develop it (with implications for the funding of secondary education and of universities and research centres); a strong social package, with social protection and retraining; and action to facilitate migration, especially from areas affected by extreme weather events. We explored some of these issues in a climate dialogue between the UK and Bangladesh, emphasising mutual learning. Among other things, Saleemul Huq and I recommended a new impetus to carbon pricing and a review of the climate finance architecture. There was an important discussion also about how to move from experimental ‘point’ innovation to system wide-change.

There is work to do, I think, on the design of a genuinely global green new deal, genuinely developed in partnership between state and non-state actors. How do we make that happen?

 *   *   *

Graphics from the IPPRInstitute for Public Policy Research (London) Report

Sharing power

Transforming our economy

Our natural world

How we live

Our place in the world

Add comment

Security code
Security code:


latest pollVote now: 

Is the concept of 'fragile               states'                   over-                   burdened?


Follow me on Twitter