Just Transition: U.S. viewpoints and 2 new Policy proposals

Just Transition: Just What Is It?”: An Analysis of Language, Strategies, and Projects   is a paper published by the  Labor Network for Sustainability, along with  Strategic Practice: Grassroots Policy Project.  It traces the history of the Just Transition concept from a U.S. point of view, starting with  the Jobs for Peace movement post-WW2, to the Super Fund for Workers initiated by Oil Chemical, and Atomic Workers leader Tony Mazzocchi, to the adoption of the idea by the environmental movement, the resistance that has developed to the “just transition” idea within much of organized labor, and finally to the adoption of the term and its reinterpretation by the environmental justice and climate justice movements.  An analysis of policy is followed by  seven “mini-case studies”  of concrete social experiments, and the paper concludes with a series of questions which aim to bring a common vision to the fight for Just Transition.  The report  is based on 17 interviews conducted between October, 2015 and March, 2016. Leaders of the following organizations reflect on their experiences and interpretations of “ Just Transition”:  Climate Justice Alliance; GreenWave; National People’s Action; New Economy Coalition; ALIGN: The Alliance for Greater New York ; Asian Pacific Environmental Network; Buffalo PUSH; Kentuckians For The Commonwealth; Movement Generation; AFL-CIO; Black Workers for Justice; BlueGreen Alliance; Labor Network for Sustainability; Oregon AFL-CIO; North Carolina League of Conservation Voters; and Sierra Club.

A related paper, jointly published by the Labor Network for Sustainability (LNS) and the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IEER), is another example of the many  policy proposals to achieve Just Transition.  The unique aspect in  Beyond a Band-Aid: A Discussion Paper on Protecting Workers and Communities in the Great Energy Transition , is the  proactive approach to  Just Transition strategy, calling for direct investments to be  made in local economies dependent on fossil fuel jobs before devastating economic disruption begins.  A Community and Worker Protection Fund (CWP Fund) is proposed to replace the taxes and fees paid by fossil fuel facilities; it would make targeted investments designed to create jobs, before or at the pace that fossil fuel jobs are declining.  Job creation would be directed at such initiatives as renewable energy, HVAC conversion, decommissioning fossil fuel facilities, and economic diversification.  The paper also discusses possible ways to pay for the CWP Fund, including: levying a “modest” carbon fee or tax, or eliminating fossil fuel subsidies and tax breaks.

Also, from the Labor Center at the University of California, Berkeley , comes Advancing Equity in California Climate Policy: A New Social Contract for Low-Carbon Transition .  (Executive Summary here  ). This paper, directed at advocacy groups, lawmakers and regulators,   proposes  a  “Climate Policy Equity Framework”  and uses it to evaluate California’s climate policies to date,  using  three principles:  Environmental Justice; Economic Equity; and Public Accountability.  It also applies the Framework  to two cases of statewide GHG reduction strategies, one in the area of energy efficiency and the other in renewable energy. Finally, the report recommends strategies to build a social contract as part of the effort to restructure to a greener economy, “to move beyond   a “lowest common denominator” approach towards a proactive equity agenda” with greater public accountability.

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