Just Transition Score
Urgent action is needed to accelerate the decarbonisation of our economies while sustaining improvements in the quality of life for people around the world, particularly the most vulnerable. This is the challenge of a just transition.
The new Just Transition Score from the Social Progress Imperative shows which countries have been better at improving their social progress while reducing their carbon emissions and which are lagging.
The Global Goal on Adaptation declared in the Paris Agreement aims to "enhance adaptive capacity, strengthen resilience and reduce vulnerability to climate change, to contribute to sustainable development and ensure an adequate adaptation response in the context of the Agreement's temperature goal of limiting warming to well below 2 or 1.5 °C." (IPCC 2022). If we don't reduce our carbon emissions in time we become increasingly vulnerable, we face economic loss, deterioration of the quality of life and increased loss of life.
The Just Transition Score shows where these goals meet - reducing our carbon emissions while adapting to climate change and improving the quality of life of people. The Just Transition Score combines the comprehensive, human-centered measurement of the Social Progress Index with data on countries’ consumption-based per capita CO₂ emissions. The Just Transition Score measures countries’ ratio of carbon emissions per capita to the Social Progress Index, it tells us how carbon efficient a country is at creating positive social outcomes. The ratio is scaled from 0 (worst performance) to 100 (best performance). Countries with the highest score are those that are most effectively tackling the climate crisis while delivering social progress for their people. Covering 158 countries, the Just Transition Score tracks progress over time from 2011-2022.
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When we look at the world’s largest economies, we find that the United States ranks 127th globally on the Just Transition Score and far worse than any of the others, including China (108th), Russia (119th), India (77th) Japan (55th), Germany (49th), United Kingdom (31st) and France (13th).
The US is the worst performing country in the G7. It performs badly not because it is rich, but because it has a toxic combination of high carbon emissions and relatively low social progress. The US will only achieve a just transition by tackling both problems.
BEST-PERFORMING AND WORST-PERFORMING COUNTRIES
There are substantial differences in the way countries achieve their social progress which occur mainly due to disparities in availability of resources and heterogeneity in consumption patterns. The Just Transition Score can therefore be useful not only to provide a general picture based on the social and environmental context, but also to allow comparisons between different regions and countries, and identify those that are the most or the least sustainable.
The Just Transition Score signals to countries ahead of COP27 a new benchmark for success in the push to improve quality of life and lower emissions. It is a helpful tool for accountability and climate justice that responds to the urgency of the climate crisis to show developing economies that alternative, environmentally positive paths to development exist.
There is a huge opportunity to learn from the top Just Transition Score countries as they outperform the wealthiest nations in the world with just a fraction of their resources. Luxembourg, the world’s richest country with GDP per capita of USD 134,753 in 2021 (World Bank national accounts data), is one of the worst performers on the JTS at 44.42/100. Norway which ranks 6th in GDP per capita globally and 1st on the Social Progress Index comes in at 28th on the Just Transition Score.
Latin America is the leading region
Led globally by Costa Rica and Uruguay, Latin America is the best performing region on the Just Transition Score but it’s also the one improving at the slowest rate of the past 12 years (+1.74). While the countries with the lowest Just Transition scores are making the most rapid improvements.