Category Archives: International Program for Labor, Climate and Environment

New Labor Forum Highlights: Feb. 6, 2017

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

  1. Pandering to the Predator: Labor and Energy Under Trump / Sean Sweeney
  2. Get Ready for the First Shocks of Trump’s Disaster Capitalism / Naomi Klein
  3. President Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum – The Corporate Connections / LittleSis

Photo by Joe Brusky via flickr (CC-BY-NC)

Is the World Really Moving Away from Fossil Fuels?

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?

Not Just Transition, But Transformation: the Paris Climate Agreement

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

Standing Rock-Solid with the Frackers

This post was originally featured at New Labor Forum.

By Sean Sweeney

If anyone were looking for further evidence that the AFL-CIO remains unprepared to accept the science of climate change, and unwilling to join with the effort being made by all of the major labor federations of the world to address the crisis, the fight over the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) provides only the most recent case in point. Taking direction from the newly minted North American Building Trades Unions (NABTU) and the American Petroleum Institute (API), the federation stood against the Standing Rock Sioux and other tribal nations. Continue reading Standing Rock-Solid with the Frackers

New TUED Report: Pollution and Warming Are Fueling a Global Health Emergency

A new TUED Working Paper draws attention to the alarming implications for human health caused by pollution and by climate change, both of which are being made worse by the growing use of coal, oil, and gas.

Authored by Svati Shah and Sean Sweeney, An Illness to One is the Concern of All presents the main findings of recent landmark reports in a way that unions can use to more effectively advocate both for their members and the broader public.

Read more, and download here.

Nobody Leave Mid-Hudson Releases Just Utilities Report

A little over a year ago, this blog published an interview with members of Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson — a Poughkeepsie based nonprofit that has been organizing low-income communities in the fight for affordable utilities.  Several weeks ago, Nobody Leave Mid-Hudson published a fantastic report called “Just Utilities: Organizing for Solutions to the Housing Energy Crisis.” The report draws on the experiences of organizers in Poughkeepsie to offer a template for utility organizing and its role in addressing what remains a national energy crisis.  Check out the report here.