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  • David Jordhus-Lier, Judith Marguerite Henriksson, Camilla Houeland, Genver Quirino & Ingrid Andrea Holland

Anchoring a just transition: The ambivalent roles of Norwegian trade unions

  • Energy Research & Social Science  | 
  • 2024

We examine how trade union actors at various scales of organisation and influence have engaged in the just transition agenda in Norway.

The Norwegian model of industrial relations represents a democratic and highly institutionalised system of social dialogue, and allows us to assess the extent to which a just transition agenda is anchored at different levels, from tripartite decision-making to representation in the workplace. By introducing two analytical devices, anchorage and climate target compliance, we encourage just transition scholars to critically examine how trade union strategies, institutional contexts and normative outcomes are related in complex and non-linear ways.

As a petroleum-dependent economy with ambitious political targets to reduce greenhouse gas emission, the Norwegian case is illustrative of the potential for trade union actors to proactively engage in climate target compliance through its role in just transition initiatives.

Based on qualitative data from complementary research projects, our analysis suggests that the ambitions of key actors remain disconnected from the experienced reality of those who represent unions in bargaining or at a local level. The concept of a just transition still lacks internal anchorage between and across levels and segments of these organisations, as members and their elected representatives generally struggle to detect a clear mandate related to environmental concerns or emission reductions.

Despite promising reformulations of policies and agreements at a central level, there is still little indication that Norwegian trade unions play a decisive role in making Norway meet their climate targets.

Jordhus-Lier, D., Henriksson, J. M., Houeland, C., Quirino, G., & Holland, I. A. (2024). Anchoring a just transition: The ambivalent roles of Norwegian trade unions. Energy Research & Social Science, 114, 103619.