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?
Murphy Institute Professor Sean Sweeney just returned from Athens, where he delivered a presentation entitled Third Memorandum or Grexit: What are the implications for the Future of Greece’s Energy System? at the Democracy Rising conference. In his talk, Sweeney explained:
…[E]nergy will be at the heart of the struggles in Greece in the years ahead, Memorandum or Grexit. Energy poverty has grown with austerity and recession, and Syriza has taken measures to protect the poorest and most vulnerable from, for example, electricity disconnections.
But it is clear that the structure of Greece’s energy system also needs to change. The “Institutions”, through the Memorandum, have a clear sense of what restructuring energy means for them—full-on privatization. However, a left restructuring would seek to address two major challenges: firstly, Greece’s dependence on fossil fuel imports and, secondly, how to take advantage of its potential to generate large amounts of renewable energy.
Sweeney presents a thorough analysis of Greece’s choices given the country’s uncertain future and the real, pressing need for “a new economy and a new society.”
Access the full presentation at Trade Unions for Energy Democracy.
Photo by Martin Abegglen via flickr (CC-BY-SA).
by Sean Sweeney
During its first days in office, Syriza has taken actions that suggest it is willing to confront the EU’s neoliberal approach to energy and to embark on a new course. New Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has also stated his government will restore collective bargaining agreements and stop 300,000 planned layoffs.
The Syriza government has said it will stop the proposed sell off of the Public Power Corporation (PPC) which is 51% publicly owned but had been targeted for full-on privatization in 2016. “We will halt immediately any privatization of PPC,” Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis told Greek television a few hours before officially taking over his portfolio. “There will be a new PPC which will help considerably the restoration of the country’s productive activities,” he said.
Lafanzis also announced that that the mostly state-run gas company, DEPA, will also not be privatized. Both the PPC and DEPA were due to be privatized under the conditions imposed by the Troika. Continue reading Syriza can show ‘another energy is possible’