Officials in the United States and around the world are launching new “just transition” initiatives at an unprecedented pace, creating policies and programs to help workers impacted by the clean energy transition. Several U.S. state leaders are included among those that have recently undertaken just transition initiatives, including Colorado and New Mexico.
The rapid adoption of just transition initiatives can be explained by three factors. First, a government-mandated energy transition creates moral responsibilities to help workers find new jobs. Second, the geographical concentration of fossil fuel reserves ？ and in some cases their distance from larger markets ？ means that local economies will struggle to reallocate workers to new jobs in the absence of public intervention. Third, a just transition is politically expedient. Many of these workers live in swing states (like Pennsylvania) or in states with influential lawmakers (like West Virginia). As such, just transition programs can reduce political frictions.