Towards a just transition: Identifying EU regions at a socioeconomic risk of the low-carbon transition

April 2024


Europe has committed to turning climate neutral by 2050 while wider stakeholders acknowledge the need for a just low carbon transition that will alleviate any negative socio-economic impacts and leave no one behind. A key first step to this direction is to identify the regions at risk. We develop a dedicated socio-economic risk indicator which makes it possible to identify the EU regions likely to be affected the most from the transition. The indicator rests on the latest definition of the IPCC, which treats risk as the combination of Hazard, Exposure and Vulnerability. In our risk index, Hazard is described as the drop in production of fossil fuel-related sectors due to the transition risk, Exposure is the respective employment share, while Vulnerability is a composite index
of socioeconomic sub-indicators that further describe Sensitivity and Adaptive Capacity of the regions. We find a wide divergence across the risk profiles of EU regions. 6% of all EU regions are found to be at high risk, while 74% of the regions face no risk. The 15 high-risk regions are also found to experience socioeconomic challenges prior to the low-carbon transition process, thus indicating the need for dedicated supporting policy mechanisms.