This Policy Brief examines implications of the EU’s targets for reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for labour markets. The brief argues that, given the enormous challenges, an equitable transition to a zero-carbon economy should be given higher priority and a clear allotment of EU financial resources.

In order to fulfil the COP21 targets the EU needs to aim for 100% emission cuts by 2050 and present a credible roadmap of how to reach this. The clock is ticking: from 2020 to 2050, three times more cuts in GHG emissions are needed than was achieved in the 30 years to 2020. With a significantly greater climate policy ambition to fulfil the Paris targets, the social and employment effects of decarbonisation will be more intense in the future, affecting jobs, livelihoods, working conditions, skills and job prospects on a large scale. These labour market challenges need to be addressed by a targeted yet comprehensive policy framework, but the colossal task of decarbonising the entire economy within the next 32 years is only achievable if it happens in a balanced and fair way, leaving nobody behind.

The briefing emphasises that any just transition should be an integral part of any low-carbon strategy and suggests that the EU should set out its own just transition framework and roadmap, based on the ILO guidelines but adapted to the specific challenges that exist in the European context.

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