Achieving the climate goals of the Paris Agreement and realising the EU Green Deal will require unprecedented economic and societal transformations. Particularly affected will be the automotive sector, as cars alone account for about 20 percent of Europe’s current CO2 emissions. Not only will new legal regulations, such as the revised and stricter EU fleet-wide CO2 emission targets, necessitate an even more rapid shift towards low and zero emission vehicles, but discourses on the future of mobility also revolve around a substantial reduction in individual mobility and a shift towards public transportation or shared mobility solutions. The automotive sector thus faces a nexus of different challenges that pose a serious threat to its economic significance and its employees. The need to consider both, the economic significance of the automotive sector, as well as the concerns of its employees while working towards increased climate friendliness, signifies the importance of a larger vision for a just transition. Such a vision must include a clear idea for the future of mobility. Only based on such an idea, promising instruments, to restructure existing business, while also exploring new business opportunities and, finally, to secure existing jobs as well as offer (re)training for those employees whose jobs will be lost over the course of the transformation, can be identified.
The goal of this project is the identification of pathways towards such a just transition. To do so the project consortium has been conducting extensive research, including in-depth interviews and co-creation workshops with relevant stakeholders, based on which a report for each country will be published in 2022. Beyond assessments with regard to the effects of the transformation and potential strategies for its management, the interviews already lead to several striking findings. Stakeholders emphasized the fact that the levels of agency for the different actors involved vary significantly in between different countries. While stakeholders in countries such as Germany are directly involved in decision making processes and thus able to actively shape the transition, stakeholders in other countries are often dependent on strategic decisions made in corporate headquarters abroad. Rather than comprehending actors in other countries as rivals, a truly just transition therefore requires genuine collaboration and the integration of perspectives from all relevant stakeholders in the European Union.
In October several project partners held their co-creation workshops together with trade unions, industry representatives, researchers and other stakeholders to discuss the impeding challenges facing the automotive sector and collaboratively propose potential policies to adress them. The participants were able to identify key themes and challenges related to a Just Transition. Aspects that were commonly pointed out across the different workshops were a lack of prearedness and guidance from policy makers and the importance of education and (re)skilling in succesfully managing the transformation. Discussions also revolved around questions regarding the overall future of urban mobility and in that context the role of individual mobility and the role of cars in cities all together. Finally, paricipants were able to identify key policy areas that should receive particularly attention in managing the transformation going forward, such as the promotion of links between the state and private sector in lifelong learning or the strengthening of the role of social dialogue.