Criterias for an energy transition promoting social justice

Recognizing the mutually-reinforcing ecological, energy, social, and economic crises, and considering the exponential aggravation of the situation, FCTÉ (common front for an energy transition) considers that any delay will inevitably result in further difficulties. It is therefore essential to start making the necessary changes as of today. We cannot afford to wait.

FCTÉ members agree that the energy transition, an essential component of a vast movement for the necessary ecological transition, must promote social justice. We must not only aim for a reduction in GHG emissions but also a reduction of all forms of social inequality. The redefinition of our relationships must foster care for the common good, i.e. the elements constituting the necessary conditions for life as we know it, including water, air, and earth.

We do not want a neoliberal energy transition contributing to all-out commodification and privatization, increased exploitation of humans and living things, and widespread dispossession for the benefit of the ultra wealthy. We recognize that this is the current trend.

We consider that the energy transition is not only technological. An energy transition promoting social justice supposes that we undertake an in-depth review of a number of components of human activity, particularly the prevailing economic model and modes of production and consumption. It involves significant changes in values, social norms, and lifestyle through, among other things, education campaigns on an unprecedented scale.

Recognizing that climate disruptions have already been triggered, it is clear that adaptation measures must also be implemented while respecting the same parameters outlined below from a social justice perspective. The urgency is real, let us act together and to the best of our abilities, starting now.

NB: The order in which these different criteria are presented does not in the least reflect a hierarchy. On the contrary, FCTÉ prefers to put forward their interdependence, each element being connected to the others.


Reduce GHG emissions

All necessary efforts must be made to keep the rise in the average temperature of the planet below 2°C compared to pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to limit the increase to 1.5°C to avoid the worst consequences of climate change.

Therefore, our principles include the following:

  • We oppose hydrocarbon exploration and development projects and any new hydrocarbon transportation projects.
  • All infrastructure and economic development projects must pass a rigorous climate test based on sound, credible, and recognized science for the entire life cycle related to manufacture and use, and according to the function of the production envisaged.<
  • From a climate responsibility perspective, the energy transition must not only aim to reduce GHG emissions produced in Quebec and the rest of Canada but also indirect emissions due to consumption, i.e. taking into account what is produced and accounted for elsewhere but consumed here, as well as what is produced here and consumed elsewhere.

Aspire to ambitious change

Major transformations, with their share of unpredictability, must be implemented in order to make the transition to a low-carbon society. These transformations require in particular :

  • A redesign of the role of the state and public intervention for the common good.
    An energy transition policy that promotes global and integrated social justice with different sectoral and regional action plans.
  • Major transformations in the current economic model and prevailing lifestyles, particularly with regard to consumption and ways of meeting basic needs.

Remain critical of emerging technologies

Corollaries and collateral effects, both environmental and social, as well as « externalities » must be integrated into the analysis of technological options, projects, or products. Above all, efforts to reduce at source must be prioritized, and we must not accept any wait-and-see attitude, particularly based on a technological mirage. Vigilance is required in the face of new technologies, particularly as concerns :

  • risks to the environment and to respect for human rights.
  • the development of their potential in a timely manner.
  • the precautionary principle that must be applied to climate technologies, despite the clear urgency.

Integrate systemic analyses

From a social justice perspective, systemic and intersectionality analyses must be applied to the different spheres of FCTÉ activity. Particular attention must be paid to ensuring that energy transition measures are emancipatory, in particular by including communities in the processes in a transversal way:

  • Energy transition measures must help improve the living conditions of currently disadvantaged individuals and communities.
  • From an anti-colonial perspective, the struggles of Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in alliance against various hydrocarbon and other development projects that threaten their environment and sovereignty must be supported in the most concrete way possible.
  • FCTÉ is committed to facilitating collaborative processes for developing positions that integrate these analyses with the communities concerned.

Respect human rights

All human rights must be respected in accordance with the principle of interdependence of rights (rights are mutually reinforcing), and the potential impact of transitional measures on all rights, particularly as concerns vulnerable groups and victims of exclusion and discrimination, must be assessed. The following texts must be respected in their entirety:

  • International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
  • International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
  • United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People

Carry out a just transition for communities and workers

The energy transition is an opportunity for major transformations in the world of work, including self-employment and unpaid work, well beyond the energy sector. It is important to ensure that the transition does not worsen the precariousness of work and instead brings dignity to workers and their communities.

  • Governments must implement industrial, social, and employment policies that respect ecological and social needs.
  • Unpaid work should be considered as part of the world of work.
  • A search for equity in access to the resources necessary for dignity should be cultivated outside an exclusive recognition by employment.
  • We must accelerate the replacement of jobs in sectors with high GHG emissions intensity by quality jobs in sectors contributing to the decarbonization and greening of the economy or in other sectors that contribute to a transition promoting social justice.
  • Workers must not only be informed of the necessary changes but must also take an active part in decisions concerning their workplace and the evolution of the world of work.
  • These quality jobs must at least meet the criteria for decent work as established by the International Labour Office.
  • Workers in GHG-intensive sectors and the communities concerned should not bear the burden of such a shift alone. In addition, training programs must be offered to promote the development of skills and support the security of professional careers.

Democratize the transition

Meaningful democratic processes must be at the heart of the vision, development, and implementation of an energy transition promoting social justice.

  • Communities and organizations must take part as stakeholders at the various levels of decision-making.
  • Sufficient resources must be allocated to promote equity and the participation of all organizations and individuals concerned.
  • Independent information enabling free and informed positions to be taken by the various actors concerned must be readily available.
  • Diversified educational measures must be taken to encourage citizens to take ownership of the issues.
  • Specific processes must be anchored in the different regions.

Respect biodiversity

Biodiversity, which is already severely beleaguered, must be seriously considered in all decisions relating to an energy transition promoting social justice, including the reduction of GHG emissions.

  • Ecological impact and life cycle analyses and compliance with the precautionary principle are minimum requirements.
  • Energy transition measures should include an improvement in the conditions for biodiversity.
  • Recognizing the intrinsic interdependence of ecosystem components, energy transition measures should be integrated at the land use planning level.
  • Our relationships with the ecosystems we inhabit should be thoroughly reviewed.

Seek ongoing financial integrity

The priority given to an energy transition promoting social justice must be reflected in financial choices. This includes public money and pension funds, and other financial institutions as well.

  • An economic policy that clearly establishes the essential importance of the common good, the resilience of communities, the stabilization of the economy in order to reduce the probability of devastating shocks for populations, and protective measures for the most vulnerable must be implemented.
  • Taxation that favours sectors that bring about the desired changes must be put in place. This involves :
    • the withdrawal of all types of government, tax, and other support to the fossil fuel sector.
    • a massive reinvestment directed towards a transition that is truly appropriate to the situation.
    • an equitable redistribution of financial resources.

Recognize common but differentiated responsibilities

People and states are and will be disproportionately affected by the consequences of climate change. The main perpetrators and beneficiaries of colonial liabilities must make a greater contribution to both emission reduction and energy transition efforts.

  • Recognition of this fact must be translated into concrete support for the efforts of affected peoples and states to make energy transitions and adapt to climate change in ways that are disproportionate to their contribution to it.
  • Issues and conditions of human movement, including migration rights, must take into account the general climatic and environmental contexts.