A Trade Union Guide to Just Transition


Photo: FOE Europe

The term ‘just transition’ is increasingly becoming part of trade union vocabulary. At its heart is a strategy to give trade unions and their members a voice in plans to tackle the climate crisis. This module will explore the meaning of the term and why it should be central to climate change policy. The declarations of a ‘climate emergency’ and calls for ‘a green new deal’ give an added urgency to union representatives and members engaging with the concept of ‘just transition’. The course will help you to examine:

  • The meaning and history of the term just transition
  • Why it should be a priority issue
  • UK union policies
  • International policies that support a just transition
  • UK Case Studies on just transition
  • Next steps and developing a union plan

This module is freely available and there is no need to register. It can be used in the following ways:

  • as a stand-alone resource or as part of related training
  • for both personal and/or group study
  • opportunities to explore the issues further are provided by optional activities and action plan sheets.
  • there is a chance to check your learning with a short quiz at the end of the module

How long does it take to complete?

The module can be read comfortably in less than 30 minutes. More time may be needed to complete the activities, view the videos or to follow the links to further reading. The multiple-choice quiz gives immediate feedback on the answers.

Who is the module aimed at?

Anyone with an interest in the trade union response to the impact of global warming. No assumptions of prior knowledge of the subject have been made. These resources should be useful for union members who are new to the subject, through to more experienced union officials.

What approach to the issue does the module take? 

There are policy differences within the trade union movement on the practical implementation of just transition measures. This is partly a reflection of the industries different unions represent. Every sector of the economy will be impacted by the ‘green revolution’ but some will experience more significant change than others. The module acknowledges these differences and is intended to support the debate that needs to take place across all sections of the trade union movement. One thing is certain, as the climate emergency worsens – ‘business as usual’ is not an option – and the trade union movement must prioritise action on climate change to cut greenhouse gas emissions and build a fairer, greener society with jobs and rising living standards for all.

What further reading is available

Each section has numerous links to original sources. These are also collated at the end of the module under ‘References and further reading’.


The GJA would like to express our thanks to UNITE London + Eastern Branch 524 (not for profits) for financial support to complete this module.