Launched in early 2015, Murphy’s International Program for Labor, Climate & Environment aspires to be a hub for education, research, policy development and alliance-building for US and international unions working on energy, climate change, and ecological and social sustainability. <<read more>>
By Sean Sweeney and John Treat
The concept of “Just Transition” has become increasingly in vogue in recent years in international political circles. While commonly ascribed to be “transformative” in potential, like any fashionable term it runs the risk of being emptied of content and coopted by arbiters of the status quo. So what really is Just Transition, and why is it potentially so transformative? This is the question the authors set out to answer in this eleventh working paper published under the auspices of our Trade Unions for Energy Democracy (TUED) project.
In one of its most thorough treatments to date, Sean Sweeney and John Treat, both of the Murphy Institute, not only define the concept of Just Transition but take us through its history and the various polemics that surround it. Starting with its roots in the U.S. labor movement, the authors trace the development of the concept, from being one focused almost exclusively on workers impacted by environmental policies, to becoming much broader in its call for socioecological transformation at the point of not only consumption but also production. Continue reading TRADE UNIONS AND JUST TRANSITION: TUED WORKING PAPER #11
Why a profit-based approach to renewable energy is failing to deliver the energy transition, and why we urgently need to pursue public alternatives.
By Sean Sweeney and John Treat
Why, in a world awash with “idle capital” and in desperate need for a just energy transition to a renewables-based system, are global investment levels in renewable energy so out of sync with climate targets?
In the previous TUED Working Paper #9, Energy Transition: Are We Winning?, we raised in passing the serious investment deficit in renewable energy, in the context of a broader examination of overall trends with the global energy system and greenhouse gas emissions. In this paper, we have taken on the investment question directly and in detail. Continue reading Preparing a Public Pathway to Renewable Energy: TUED Working Paper #10
Compiled by Michael O’Neil for TUED
The Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn have released their 2017 manifesto for the June 8th General Election, entitled “For the Many, Not the Few.” The manifesto outlines policies of interest those dedicated to the movements for energy democracy and a just transition away from fossil fuels.
“CREATING AN ECONOMY THAT WORKS FOR ALL”In the section Upgrading Our Economy: Labour’s Industrial Strategy, it states that a Labour Government would ensure that “60 per cent of the UK’s energy comes from zero-carbon or renewable sources by 2030.”
This statement was delivered by TUED unions to the Labour Party energy shadow minister Alan Whitehead in the days following the announcement of the general election:
With the announcement of a general election for 8th June, UK trade unions participating in Trade Unions for Energy Democracy are calling on the Labour Party to include a manifesto commitment to extend public ownership and democratic control to UK energy.
UK TUED unions welcome initial Labour Party proposals for energy transition and a vision for energy democracy based on new forms of public and community ownership, putting climate change and social justice at the heart of industrial strategy. This now needs to form part of a clear manifesto commitment to reclaim energy back to the public sphere. Labour should set out an ambition for new affordable, low carbon energy system that reduces greenhouse gas emissions and pollution, always emphasising the massive opportunities to create secure, skilled unionised jobs for communities across the UK.
Featured photo by Chatham House via flickr (CC-BY)
The New Labor Forum has launched a bi-weekly newsletter on current topics in labor, curated by the some of the most insightful scholars and activists in the labor world today. Check out some highlights from the latest edition below.
In the short time since Donald Trump was inaugurated, a lot has happened — with the threat of more to come. Among the many Executive Orders signed last week, Trump acted to reverse Obama’s halt on the Keystone and Dakota Pipelines. While EO’s won’t get the pipelines built on their own, it’s a clear signal that on climate policy, things are quickly heading south.
New Labor Forum Columnist Sean Sweeney has written a post about the evolving relationship between some of the Building Trades, the new Administration, and the fossil fuel industry.
Naomi Klein rounds out the topic by pointing out that much of the policy changes we are likely to see under Trump will be driven by the logic of disaster capitalism – that changes the 1% has long desired and planned for, will be rolled out in response to ‘disasters’. Understanding this dynamic is important, as it will apply not only to energy policy, but to national security, labor rights, and more.
Given the tensions in the labor movement around climate policy, we expect (and hope for) vigorous debate — please be sure to visit our Facebook page and/or the blog to participate.
Table of Contents
- Pandering to the Predator: Labor and Energy Under Trump / Sean Sweeney
- Get Ready for the First Shocks of Trump’s Disaster Capitalism / Naomi Klein
- President Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum – The Corporate Connections / LittleSis
Photo by Joe Brusky via flickr (CC-BY-NC)
From Trade Unions for Energy Democracy:
During 2015 and 2016, a number of significant public and political figures have made statements suggesting that the world is “moving away from fossil fuels,” and that the battle against greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) and climate change is therefore being won. Such statements are frequently accompanied by assurances that the transition to renewable energy and a low-carbon economy is both “inevitable” and already well underway, and that economic growth will soon be “decoupled” from dangerously high annual emissions levels. This optimism has also been accepted by a section of the environmental movement, and even by some unions.
Renewables and Reality
If the “green growth” optimists are correct, the political implications for trade unions and social movements are profound. For unions, it would mean focusing aggressively on the need to protect the livelihoods of the tens of millions of workers around the world who currently work in fossil fuels and rallying around the principle of “just transition” encoded in the preface to the Paris Agreement. But it would also mean that the need to wage a determined and protracted political struggle against fossil fuel expansion and “extractivism” would immediately become less urgent. In this scenario, trade union efforts would rightly focus on working to shape the next energy system as it rises from the ashes of the old. Continue reading Is the World Really Moving Away from Fossil Fuels?
via TUED Bulletin 53
By Sean Sweeney
The Paris Climate Agreement came into effect November 4th, 2016. More than 90 countries have ratified the deal, which is enough to turn it into international law.
Unions all over the world are trying to anticipate the agreement’s likely impacts and navigate its provisions to advance the interests of working people. Towards that end, a cross section of international labor will be in Marrakech from November 7th-19th calling for a “just transition strategy,” and to press for more ambitious targets and adequate climate financing for the global South. Continue reading Not Just Transition, But Transformation: the Paris Climate Agreement