| Willy Brandt School of Public Policy

Brandt School discussion on “Just Transitions: How can socio-economic inequalities of climate change be addressed?”

How can a ‘Just Transition’ in decarbonization be achieved? This question stood at the center of a conversation organized by the Brandt School, which gathered students, faculty and the local public. The event combined the inaugural lectures of Professors Achim Kemmerling and Andreas Goldthau as well as the appointment of the latter as the school’s new director.

The event ‘Just transitions: How can socio-economic inequalities of climate change be addressed?’ took place in Haus Dacheröden in the heart of Erfurt on May 23, 2022, and was co-hosted by the Faculty of Law, Economics, and Social Sciences, represented by its Dean, Prof. Till Talaulicar. In her keynote address, MP Katrin Göring-Eckardt, Vice President of the German Bundestag made an impassioned plea not only to confront the climate crisis, but also to confront existing inequalities. ‘The climate crisis makes poor people poorer, not only in Germany but also in the Global South. That is why we are fighting against existing inequalities with a socially just climate politics,’ she said.

Following her remarks, Prof. Dr. Andreas Goldthau highlighted the rapid rise of renewable energy but pointed to lingering issues with spreading clean technologies to other parts of the world. He argued that knowledge sharing is crucial for enabling developing nations to grow into a low carbon future. Indeed, the Global North has played an outsized role in the climate crisis, while the burdens of the crisis are being shouldered by the most vulnerable, specifically in the Global South. The energy transition, he concluded, may risk creating a lopsided distribution of opportunities and risks of going green.

Prof. Dr. Achim Kemmerling’s remarks focused on the need of a just transition to meet the social and economic needs of people suffering. He outlined various policies that have been proposed and implemented, from social tax credits to a ‘basic climate income’, and whether and how they raise people’s acceptance for taxing CO2 emissions. He pointed out that governments will need to do much more than the recently introduced 9-Euro ticket to compensate vulnerable people and those with little economic means for rising energy prices.

While simultaneously tackling both the climate crisis and the Russian invasion of Ukraine may amount to an overwhelming task for policymaking, the subsequent discussion also revealed a great deal of optimism regarding the likelihood of successfully managing the energy transition. Moderated by the university’s vice president Prof. Dr. Beate Hampe, the subsequent discussion took questions from the audience, who came from the region of Thuringia, but also from many places in the Global South - literally practicing the sort of discussions that will be necessary for the world to truly realize a just transition on a global scale.

A video recording of the event will be available, soon.