Putting the Future First: A blueprint for community just transition planning in Canada

In partnership with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives  

As the planet continues to heat up, with all the destruction and hardship that entails, the imperative of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by shifting away from fossil fuels is only becoming more urgent. To address this need, the concept of a “just transition”, which refers generally to the fair sharing of the costs and benefits of shifting away from fossil fuels, has been adopted by governments in Canada and around the world. However, to date, implementation of this aspirational principle has been uneven and incomplete. Every community across Canada depends on fossil fuels today, whether or not they are directly involved in the production of oil, coal and natural gas, which means every community needs a practical plan to transition to cleaner alternatives in a socially just and sustainable way. And, crucially, those plans must reflect the unique circumstances and desires of each community, especially in those places where governments have been reluctant to act with the necessary ambition. 

This project develops a blueprint for community organizers and concerned citizens seeking to tackle the question: How do we achieve a just transition in our communities, especially in the absence of proactive government action? Drawing on examples from around the world as well as consultations with community partners, the project identifies best practices in community planning and presents a step-by-step approach for developing a grassroots just transition roadmap. The result of this work – a collaborative paper between researchers in the Centre for Climate Justice and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives — is intended to empower communities to develop their own transition plans in collaboration with key constituencies. These plans can serve as a concrete set of demands to be brought before federal, provincial and/or municipal governments for implementation, and can initiate and nurture long-term citizen engagement with the transition process beyond this initial project. 

This project is supported by internal research funding from the Centre for Climate Justice, and by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.  


Project Team

Max Cohen, PhD Candidate, UBC Department of Geography 

Avi Lewis, Associate Professor, UBC Department of Geography 

Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood, Senior Researcher, CCPA National Office 

Isabella Pojuner, MA Student, UBC Department of Geography 



Avi Lewis