Just Zero – a Virtual Conference on Financing the Just Transition

25 October, 12:00 pm - 27 October 2021, 6:00 pm
Female engineer standing with digital tablet against wind turbine on sunny day, looking at wind turbine

A key factor in accelerating the shift to a resilient net zero economy is making sure that the transition is fair and inclusive, one that delivers decent work, cuts inequality and eradicates poverty. This is the agenda of the just transition, an imperative included in the Paris Agreement, and one which is gaining increasing attention by governments, business and trade unions and civil society, as vital to achieving climate success. The financial sector is also recognising the key role it can play to support the just transition, whether as banks, investors or development finance institutions. 

The aim of the Just Zero conference was to bring together some of the key activities that are underway to mobilise the financial sector in support of a just transition and build a momentum for change heading into the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow. 

The Conference was organised by the Grantham Research Institute at the London School of Economics with the Initiative for Responsible Investment, Center for Public Leadership, at the Harvard Kennedy School; the Principles for Responsible Investment; and the International Trade Union Confederation. Other collaborators include CDC, the Institute for Human Rights and Business, the Powering Past Coal Coalition and the Place-based Climate Action Network. The Conference is supported by the Friends Provident Foundation.

Session 1. The Just Transition Leadership Agenda for Finance

The opening session of the Just Zero Conference set out the strategic agenda, identifying what is needed to achieve system-wide change for the just transition at COP26 and beyond, focusing on the specific role of finance. The session included leaders from the world of policy, finance and labour.

Session 2. Engaging for Change: Shareholders, Business & the Just Transition

Shareholder engagement is a powerful tool for responding to climate risks and promoting corporate alignment with net zero. Investors are starting to incorporate just transition expectations into their engagement activities. This session focused on what is needed to scale up investor efforts to improve business practice, with leading practitioners.

Session 3. Financing the Just Transition in Emerging Markets

The real test of the just transition will be in emerging and developing economies, where investment needs for climate action are greatest and where the imperatives of ending poverty, cutting inequality and delivering sustainable livelihoods are most pressing. This session focused on the priorities of two countries, India and South Africa, as well as the strategies of development financial institutions.

Session 4. Voice & Place: Worker & Community Perspectives on Financing the Just Transition

An essential component of the just transition is the active participation of workers and communities in climate strategies. This session focused on how investor action on the just transition can be guided by dialogue with workers and communities, with leading union and community representatives as well as investors and international policymakers.

Session 5. Financing a Just Transition Alliance UK: Report Launch

The just transition is increasingly recognised by financial institutions as a critical factor for climate success in the UK. This session launched the report from the Financing the Just Transition Alliance, a coalition of 40 organisations, which will show what banks and investors need to do and what policy changes are required.

Session 6. Finance, the Just Transition & COP26: Key Messages 

COP26 needs to achieve major breakthroughs on net zero, resilience and climate finance. The just transition is set to gain increased policy, business and civil society profile as a tool for accelerating action. This closing session reflected on the key messages from the Just Zero conference for COP26.