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(Video) A Climate Jobs Plan for Rhode Island

By various - ILR Worker Institute - March 4, 2022

On Friday, March 4, researchers from Cornell University joined with leaders of the Climate Jobs RI coalition, a group of labor, climate, and community groups in Rhode Island, and discussed a new report unveiled last month that outlined a comprehensive action plan to put RI on the path to becoming the first fully decarbonized state and building an equitable, pro-worker, clean energy economy.

Watch the panel here:

Building a Just Transition for a Resilient Future: A Climate Jobs Program for Rhode Island

By Lara Skinner, J. Mijin Cha, Avalon Hoek Spaans, Hunter Moskowitz, and Anita Raman - The Worker Institute and The ILR School, January 2022

A new report released today by climate and labor experts at Cornell University in collaboration with the Climate Jobs Rhode Island Coalition outlines a comprehensive climate jobs action plan to put Rhode Island on the path to building an equitable and resilient clean-energy economy.

The report lays out a series of wide-ranging policy recommendations to transition the Ocean State’s building, school, energy, transportation, and adaptation sectors to renewable energy with the strongest labor and equity standards. Core provisions of the plan include decarbonizing the state’s K-12 public school buildings, installing 900 MW of solar energy statewide, 1,300 MW of offshore wind energy, and modernizing the state’s electrical grid by 2030. 

“Rhode Island is in a unique position as a state, in 2019 it had the lowest energy consumption per capita across all the United States. Rhode Island can use climate change as an opportunity to eliminate carbon emissions, increase equity, and create high-quality jobs that support working families and frontline communities,” says Avalon Hoek Spaans, Research and Policy Development Extension Associate for the Labor Leading on Climate Initiative at the Worker Institute, Cornell ILR School and one of the authors of the report.

The Worker Institute’s Labor Leading on Climate Initiative in partnership with the Climate Jobs National Resource Center, and Climate Jobs Rhode Island, began a comprehensive research, educational, and policy process in early 2021 to develop an implementation framework to drastically reduce emissions in the state while creating high-quality union family sustaining jobs.

Over the past year, the Labor Leading on Climate team has conducted outreach to numerous leaders of the labor and environmental movements as well as policymakers and experts in the climate, energy, and labor fields to better understand the challenges and opportunities that climate change and climate mitigation and adaptation presents to Rhode Island workers and unions.

“With Rhode Island on the frontlines of the climate crisis, it will take bold, ambitious action to combat climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and pollution to the levels that science demands. Fortunately, tackling climate change is also an opportunity to address the other crises Rhode Island is facing: inequality and pandemic recovery,” says Lara Skinner, Director, Labor Leading on Climate Initiative, at the Worker Institute, Cornell ILR School and one of the authors of the report.

“As a small state with one of the lowest emissions in the country, Rhode Island can be innovative and efficient, employing cutting-edge approaches to reverse climate change and inequality. Rhode Island has the potential to be the first state in the country to fully decarbonize and build out a net zero economy with high-quality union jobs. This would make Rhode Island's economy stronger, fairer, and more inclusive,” says Lara Skinner, Director, Labor Leading on Climate Initiative, at the Worker Institute, Cornell ILR School and one of the authors of the report.

Read the text (PDF).

Shuler: Good Union Jobs Are Key to a Clean Energy Future

By Liz Shuler - AFL-CIO, September 17, 2021

AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler delivered the following remarks virtually at the Long Island Offshore Wind Supply Chain Conference:

Thank you so much for that wonderful introduction, Congressman [Tom] Suozzi. Thank you for your strong voice for working families in your district but for all working families, and for chairing the House labor caucus.

Good morning to all of you! Even though I’m Zooming in, I’m so happy to be joining you today—sounds like you have a great crowd in person and online. Hello to my labor friends—John Durso, Roger Clayman. I heard Chris Erickson is there and everyone from all walks of life who care about our climate.

I got fired up hearing your intro Congressman. I’m inspired because I see the future: that win-win-win is right there for us to grab it, and a modern, resilient and inclusive labor movement is what will help us meet the challenges of the climate crisis.

New York, I don’t need to tell you that working people are seeing and feeling the impacts of climate change. Ida recently flooded the New York transit systems and parts of Long Island saw record rainfall. 

It’s happening all across the country. Wildfires. Heat waves. Climate change is already here, happening in every community and every ZIP code. From your local news reports to the recent IPCC report, you’re hearing the alarm: we have to transition to a clean energy future. The question is how? 

The answer: with good, union jobs. It’s why we are building a labor movement that will meet the moment.

Just look at how our movement, government, industry leaders and environmental groups have worked together to bring offshore wind to the Atlantic Coast. Our progress working together shows that the way to respond and adapt to the climate crisis is through a high-road strategy with good, union jobs. 

That’s the only way we can meet the urgency in front of us. 

Labor is Leading: Building the Climate Jobs Movement Now!

2018 Massachusetts Offshore Wind Workforce Assessment

By Paul Vigeant, et. al. - Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, January 2019

The 2018 Massachusetts Offshore Wind Workforce Assessment provides a comprehensive analysis of the workforce needs and economic development impacts associated with the deployment of 1600 megawatts of offshore wind in Massachusetts. The report describes the jobs associated with planning, constructing and servicing offshore wind projects and provides information on the education, skills and health and safety credentials required for each job. Importantly, the report highlights the opportunities for Massachusetts residents to work in this emerging industry, and identifies recommendations and key strategies to better position the Commonwealth, offshore wind industry, educational institutions, non-profits, and labor to develop and serve a burgeoning offshore wind workforce.

Read the Report (PDF).

Strategies For Climate Justice And A Just Transition

By Environmental Justice League of RI - RI Future, January 15, 2016

The Environmental Justice League of Rhode Island (EJLRI) has created a brilliant position paper, “National Grid’s Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Liquefaction Facility: Toxic Hazards in the Port Providence: Proposals for a Just Transition” that eviscerates National Grid‘s plans to build a new liquefaction facility for fracked LNG at Fields Point in South Providence. Over the next few days RI Future will be presenting the EJLRI’s position paper in its entirety.

Solutions and Alternatives

The information presented in the previous posts show that in addition to not being necessary, National Grid’s proposed LNG Liquefaction Facility would be dangerous and would contribute to existing environmental racism. LNG Liquefaction is not needed in Rhode Island in general, and it certainly should not be placed in the most toxic and most impoverished part of the state.

The immediate solution is to stop this facility from being built. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) needs to deny National Grid LNG LLC’s application, and the RI Department of Environmental Management (RI DEM) and RI Coastal Resources Management Council (RI CRMC) need to deny the state level permits.

That being said, ­ the proposed liquefaction facility is not the only problem outlined in this position paper. Even without the added significant risks of the liquefaction facility, the existing LNG storage tank, the Motiva oil terminal, the Univar chemical plant, the Enterprise LPG terminal, and other facilities in the area all pose significant environmental health hazards, and create the overall context of environmental racism. Toxic and hazardous facilities are dangerous for communities and dangerous for workers. Yet families are dependent on them for jobs, municipalities are dependent on them for tax income, and the way our socio­economic system is set up we are all collectively dependent on the products they produce. Regardless of our dependency, the reality of climate science is that the fossil fuel / petrochemical industry is rapidly pushing our planet past its limits, producing present and future catastrophic impacts, and making people sick, ­especially front-line communities of color and indigenous communities. Our dependency on these industries is literally killing us.

As an organization, the EJ League is interested in big­ picture, long­ term, real solutions to interlocking crises that impact communities of color, marginalized communities, and planetary ecosystems. We are members of three national coalitions of grassroots, membership ­based organizations: Right to the City, Grassroots Global Justice, and Climate Justice Alliance. Together, and lead by our members and our communities, we are developing and sharing solutions that address these intersecting crises from the grassroots. These community­ based solutions are in opposition to the corporate top­ down false solutions that pretend to address a single symptom while reinforcing the underlying root causes of the problems.

True solutions are rooted in the work of grassroots internationalism, and using the framework of a “Just Transition”. We are collectively building a different context and a different system, an economy for people and the planet. The Just Transition framework emerged from partnerships between environmental justice and labor organizations. In the words of the Just Transition Alliance, “together with front-line workers, and community members who live along the fence ­line of polluting industries, we create healthy workplaces and communities. We focus on contaminated sites that should be cleaned up, and on the transition to clean production and sustainable economies.”

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