How Iberdrola is embedding the just transition across its businessWe Mean Business Coalition
Image: Training activities conducted under the UNICEF-Iberdrola alliance.
Headquartered in Spain, Iberdrola is a global leader in renewable energy committed to advancing a just transition away from fossil fuels towards a sustainable, clean and competitive business model. With a total renewable installed capacity of over 40,000 MW, the company serves 36.4 million consumers worldwide and directly employs more than 40,000 people.
To support the launch of the Just Transition Resource Platform created by BSR, The B Team and the We Mean Business Coalition, Iberdrola shares its ambition for building a fairer and more inclusive energy system and how it is implementing this vision through its investments, programs and initiatives. All companies can plan, implement and advocate for a just transition to a low carbon economy by using the Just Transition Resource Platform and following The 4 A’s of Climate Leadership.
A just and inclusive transition implies that phasing out fossil fuels and investing in renewable energies and green solutions brings benefits to society as a whole, the wider economy, and nature. Iberdrola is fully committed to the acceleration of a just transition that creates value and opportunities for all stakeholders – and builds buy in for the transition – as the only way to limit global warming to below 1.5°C. Today, Iberdrola’s engagement with the just transition is centered on the deployment of renewables and innovative energy and climate solutions for decarbonizing and re-industrializing the economy.
In its planning, the company recognizes the importance of co-creating solutions with affected workers and communities. In Spain, Iberdrola worked closely with the government in the implementation of its national Just Transition Strategy. Social dialogue and close collaboration among government, trade unions, and companies was key in developing comprehensive action plans to address both the opportunities and challenges of the transition for different regions.
Iberdrola has pledged to invest €47 billion in the energy transition from 2023-2025 and €65-75 billion between 2026 and 2030, and to achieve net zero emissions across Scopes 1,2 and 3 before 2040.
Iberdrola’s just transition engagement is inspired by the international frameworks established by the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, and the ILO Just Transition Guidelines.
As it has closed all its coal plants and deployed new renewables and clean energy solutions, Iberdrola has been delivering on its just transition commitment through a large portfolio of initiatives and collaborations. Through these projects, the company is focused on creating green jobs and building skills for groups more vulnerable to adverse transition impacts, generating value at the local level, building resilient supply chains, and ensuring all can benefit from opportunities brought by the energy transition.
In Scotland, for example, Iberdrola collaborated with the Partnership Action for Continuing Employment (PACE), a government initiative that helps mitigate adverse transition impacts on people and business. Through PACE, workers of a closing coal power plant received assistance, including job search advice, education and training support, and guidance for claiming state benefits.
In Spain, the closure of Iberdrola’s last two coal plants was coupled with significant investments in renewable energy projects to revitalize industrial activity in affected regions. Under the Exiom-Iberdrola Alliance, the first photovoltaic module manufacturing plant in Spain and one of the first ones on an industrial scale in Europe will be operational in 2023, creating more than 100 directs jobs, enhancing security of supply for the renewable energy value chain, and acting as a driver for local industrial development.
Iberdrola has also launched the Citizens’ Innovation Platform, supported by the Centre for Innovation in Technologies for Human Development of the Polytechnic University of Madrid (itdUPM) and the Agirre Lehendakaria Center (ALC). Through the platform, citizens, public institutions and industry work together on solving the socio-economic challenges presented by the transition to renewable power.
The company is involved in several initiatives to develop green skills for groups more vulnerable to economic and social impacts, such as the School of Electricians for Women in Brazil, the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) scholarships for youth in Mexico. It works through the Alliance with UNICEF to promote education and green employment for vulnerable young people in Spain, Brazil and Somalia.
Additionally, the CONVIVE Programme, launched in Spain, leverages Iberdrola’s historical commitment to deploy renewables, in a manner that is aligned with the needs of nature and local communities, developing initiatives and alliances that multiply positive impacts, contributing to climate action, generating economic activity and improving biodiversity.
There is a clear gap between the objective of limiting warming to 1.5°C and current policies. Every fraction of a degree of warming over this limit will increase the adverse impacts on communities. Supporting a just transition can help to close this gap by demonstrating that investments in renewables and new green industries create decent jobs and value at local level. Businesses can use its voice to support enabling policies and show policymakers that business is already acting on the just transition.
This is why Iberdrola is an advocate for a just transition. It has made its voice heard by signing the United Nations Secretary General Summit Pledge Letter: Business commitment to a just transition and green, decent jobs in 2019 and the Just Transition and Decent Jobs Pledge coordinated by The B Team in 2021. The company actively participates in international initiatives and coalitions such as the UN Global Compact’s Think Lab on Just Transition of which Iberdrola is patron, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change PCCB (Paris Committee on Capacity-Building) network, and the Energy for a Just Transition collaboration facilitated by BSR in partnership with The B Team. It is an active participant in just transition discussions and events at the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties and at the Bonn Climate Change Conference.
Iberdrola’s just transition activities are carried out collaboratively across various internal functions including ESG, Communications, Climate Change and Alliances, Innovation and Sustainability, and Human Resources. Activities are reported annually in the company’s Statement of Non-Financial Information – Sustainability Report.
In March 2023, Iberdrola responded to the UN Secretary General’s call, becoming the first company globally to share with the UN its Climate Transition Plan for achieving net zero emissions before 2040, which includes a special focus on just transition.