Unions Have The Potential And Responsibility To Advance A ‘Just Transition’

The idea of a “just transition” has emerged as an absolute requirement for any progress toward a clean energy future. An energy transformation will impact workers in the fossil fuel industry but will also affect regions and communities differently. A just transition must be designed to ensure that the benefits of greening the economy are shared widely and that no worker is left behind.

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The Green New Deal From Below

The Green New Deal is a visionary program to protect the earth’s climate while creating good jobs, reducing injustice, and eliminating poverty. Its core principle is to use the necessity for climate protection as a basis for realizing full employment and social justice.

The Green New Deal first emerged as a proposal for national legislation, and the struggle to embody it in national legislation is ongoing. But there has also emerged a little-noticed wave of initiatives from community groups, unions, city and state governments, tribes, and other non-federal institutions designed to contribute to the climate protection and social justice goals of the Green New Deal. We will call these the Green New Deal from Below (GNDfB).

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Environmental And Labor Groups Urge Canada To Support Just Transition

Canada has not provided a transition pathway for its fossil fuel workers to move into other industries, and as global demand for oil and gas wanes, tens of thousands of workers could lose their jobs, say the authors of a new report.

Roughly 167,000 people are directly employed in Canada’s oil and gas industry, but increased automation combined with the energy transition and climate policy mean that half of those jobs are slated to disappear by the end of the decade, according to a report published on October 13 by the Climate Action Network Canada and Blue Green Canada, which is a coalition of labor and environmental groups.

The report said there is potential to transition many of these workers into cleaner industries, but action is needed by the federal and provincial governments to ease the pathway.

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Leaving No One Behind In The City

There is a general consensus that cities and public transport will play a central role in the recovery from Covid-19. Some have called this the “urban opportunity”. From investments in sustainable mobility, to enhancing the role of public transport and the electrification of transport, these discussions have often centered on the potential for the transport sector to provide green jobs, lower emissions, to create access and reshape society along more equitable lines in the post-Covid world. The International Labour Organization (ILO) recently published a report highlighting the massive potential for jobs and for lowering emissions if we focus on investments which double down on public transport and electrification.

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Brooklyn’s Waterfront: A Just Transition?

When Aroldo Garcia learned that the operations base for a major offshore wind project was coming to his Brooklyn neighborhood, he thought about the jobs it could provide for his family members and friends who worked as handymen and contractors, and for others who didn’t have work at all. 

The project promised to bring more than a thousand new jobs to a waterfront site in Sunset Park, a largely immigrant, working-class community where many residents have struggled to keep up with the rising cost of living. It was, he thought, exactly the type of development people had been waiting for.

“These are not service type jobs that pay low wages,” Garcia said. “These are going to be technical jobs that pay good wages. And I think the community needs that.”

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Trade Unionists And Ecologists Demand A Just Transition Towards Less Air Traffic

London/Vienna – Today, the UK trade union PCS and the global network Stay Grounded published together a paper entitled “A Rapid and Just Transition of Aviation – Shifting towards Climate-Just Mobility”. Tahir Latif, PCS Aviation Group President, says: “This paper clearly shows: the aviation workforce needs to accommodate the urgent requirement for a reduction in flying. This is imperative to avoid climate catastrophe. We need to retain job security through retraining and redeployment into jobs, some within aviation and some in other sectors, that help to restore the planet, not destroy it.”

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