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A Just Transition Primer from Global Climate Justice Leaders

By Molly Rosbach - Sunflower Alliance, October 1, 2022

A new report from leaders of the global climate justice movement argues that “a broad vision of Just Transition with social justice at its core is critical, especially as fossil fuel companies and defenders of ‘business as usual’ are adopting the language of climate action and just transition to thwart real solutions.”

The report, From Crisis to Transformation: A Just Transition Primer, released by Grassroots Global Justice and the Transnational Institute, “explores the root causes of the climate crisis . . . and argues that we need transformative and anti-capitalist visions to bring us “from crisis to transformation.” The report lays out the big picture of those causes, starting from colonialism, capitalism, and the industrial revolution, and traces the development of the current crisis. It outlines key elements of a true just transition:

  • Decolonization and restoration of indigenous sovereignty
  • Reparations and restitution
  • Ancestral and science-based solutions
  • Agroecology, food sovereignty, and agrarian reform
  • Recognition of rights to land, food, ecosystems, and territories
  • Cooperatives, social, and public production
  • Just distribution of reproductive labor
  • Going beyond endless economic growth

And provides case studies of communities putting visions of Just Transition into practice today:
* The Green New Deal
* Cooperation Jackson and the Jackson Just Transition Plan
* Just Transition in North Africa
* Movement of People Affected by Dams

Authors of the report include Jaron Brown of Grassroots Global Justice, Katie Sandwell and Lyda Fernanda Forero of the Transnational Institute, and Kali Akuno of Cooperation Jackson.

The report was released in Arabic, Spanish, and English, with plans to add translations in Bahasa, French, and Portuguese.

Grassroots Global Justice (GGJ) “is an alliance of over 60 US-based grassroots organizing (GRO) groups of working and poor people and communities of color,” including the Asian Pacific Environmental Network, Communities for a Better Environment, the Indigenous Environmental Network, Jobs with Justice, Cooperation Jackson and many more.

The Transnational Institute “is an international research and advocacy institute committed to building a just, democratic, and sustainable planet.”

They “offer this primer as a contribution to the broader ecosystem of Just Transition frameworks and articulations. In particular, we honor the work of the Just Transition Alliance, the Indigenous Environmental Network, the Climate Justice Alliance, Movement Generation, the Labor Network for Sustainability, and Trade Unions for Energy Democracy, among many others.”

OSU study finds higher rates of traumatic injuries for outdoor workers during hotter weather

By Molly Rosbach - Oregon State University, September 29, 2022

Rates of traumatic injury among workers in the Oregon agricultural and construction sectors are significantly higher during periods of high heat compared with periods of more moderate weather, a recent Oregon State University study found.

The results underscore the importance of providing robust safety protections for outdoor workers, especially as extreme heat events become more common with climate change, researchers said.

“The big take-home message I want people to get from this is that, if the temperature is high and you have workers out there, they’re more likely to be injured, whether it’s due to dehydration, reduction in mental capacity or exhaustion,” said Richie Evoy, lead author on the paper and a recent doctoral graduate from OSU’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences.

The study, published earlier this month, examined Oregon workers’ compensation data from 2009-2018. Researchers looked at nearly 92,000 injury claims in which workers suffered temporary disability, permanent disability or death. They focused on injuries that occurred in the months of April through October because the average heat index was above 55 degrees for that period.

In addition to heat, researchers also investigated the impact of wildfire smoke on worker injury rates.

They matched injury records with meteorological data to estimate heat exposure based on the heat index, which combines the effects of temperature and humidity in the air, along with environmental satellite data to estimate exposure to wildfire smoke.

They found that workers in agricultural and construction jobs were significantly more likely to suffer a traumatic injury on days when the heat index was above 75 degrees, compared with a baseline of 65 degrees or less.

The effect worsened when the heat index climbed to over 90 degrees, with an increased risk of 19-29% over baseline as the index ranged from 90-119 degrees.

“These results support the need for occupational safety practitioners to include protections for workers during extreme heat,” said Laurel Kincl, co-author on the study and an associate professor in OSU’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences. “While our study in based in Oregon, this is true in other states and regions since these conditions will likely become more frequent with climate change."

The impact of wildfire smoke was less clear. When researchers looked at smoke by itself, it was strongly associated with an increased risk of injury, but when they also incorporated heat index data into the analysis, the effect of wildfire smoke was no longer significant.

There are several potential reasons for this, researchers said. It could be that because wildfires happen more frequently in hot conditions, the smoke is coincidental to the heat; but smoke can sometimes also block the sun and reduce overall temperature.

Future studies should obtain more precise smoke exposure data to better understand the potential impact, researchers said. In using satellite imagery and data recorded from each day’s peak smoke exposure by zip code, Evoy said they couldn’t parse out exactly how much wildfire smoke individual workers were exposed to, or what was in that smoke, because of shifting winds and changes in what was burning at any given time.

“The way things stand now, wildfires are only going to increase in frequency and duration in Oregon and in the West, so the more we can do to understand the risks to our outdoor workers who are going to be experiencing these climate effects first, the better off those workers are going to be in protecting their health and staying productive,” Evoy said.

Just this summer, Oregon’s Occupational Safety and Health division adopted new standards regarding wildfire and excessive heat stress. Employers are now required by law to provide workers with shade areas when the heat index exceeds 80 degrees, along with access to drinking water, a specific work-rest schedule and several other safety measures. A coalition of Oregon business groups are suing the state over these new rules, which were praised by worker advocacy groups.

Other co-authors on the OSU study included Perry Hystad and Harold Bae, both in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences.

Fake My Catch: The Unreliable Traceability in our Tuna Cans

By staff - Greenpeace East Asia, September 2022

US seafood company Bumble Bee, one of the leading companies in the canned tuna market with nearly 90% consumer awareness levels,1 and its Taiwanese parent company Fong Chun Formosa Fishery Company (hereinafter referred to as FCF), one of the top three global tuna traders, play an important role in the global tuna industry, and thus hold responsibility over the health of our ocean, the treatment of those working in the tuna supply chain and consumer choices. Both companies have policies on sustainability and corporate social responsibility that are supposed to extend through their supply chain, but according to the analysis in this report, neither are meeting their responsibilities.

This report finds that the information on Bumble Bee’s “Trace My Catch” website, which enables consumers to track the source of their tuna product from catch to can, is insufficient and in some cases incorrect. In a number of cases Greenpeace East Asia's analysis found that the company was sourcing fish from vessels that had engaged in or were suspected of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, forced labor, and/or human rights abuses. Therefore, Bumble Bee may not be fulfilling its responsibility and commitment to environmental sustainability and human rights, and without consumers’ knowledge seafood tainted with IUU and forced labor may have already entered the US market.

Based on 732 valid Bumble Bee tuna product codes, this report finds that Bumble Bee tuna was sourced from 290 different vessels, almost half of which are Taiwanese-flagged (119) or owned (22) distant water fishing vessels according to the information on Trace My Catch. In addition, some information on their Trace My Catch website contradicts official information from the Taiwan Fisheries Agency about where the supply vessel was authorized to fish. Verifying the vessel's location against a third data source- Automatic Identification System (AIS) data from Global Fishing Watch, revealed that 28 fishing vessels’ fishing area information provided by Bumble Bee’s traceability tool was incorrect. In addition, 13 fishing vessels that supplied tuna to Bumble Bee were listed on TFA’s website for IUU fishing.

Based on interviews with nine fishers on six Taiwanese vessels that supplied Bumble Bee, it was found that all nine fishers had experienced or observed at least one of the International Labor Organization (ILO) indicators of forced labor,3 and six out of those nine fishers had experienced or observed four or more of the 11 indicators. All of the fishers interviewed said they have experienced excessive overtime and retention of identity documents, and over two-thirds of them had their wages withheld.

Greenpeace East Asia research found that Bumble Bee canned tuna collected from Harris Teeter (a wholly owned subsidiary of Kroger Co.) in Arlington, Virginia on April 12, 2022 was sourced from DA WANG, a Taiwanese-owned vessel confirmed to use forced labor by US Customs and Border Protection.4 In April 2022, Taiwanese authorities indicted the vessel captain, first mate, and seven others for their involvement for forced labor and human trafficking. Bumble Bee's Trace My Catch website lists the source of this tuna as DA WANG on a trip in 2019, during which a fisher was reportedly beaten and died at sea. This leads to strong inference that seafood tainted with forced labor has already been sold in the US market.

On another Taiwanese fishing vessel, DE CHAN NO.116 evidence was revealed from Greenpeace East Asia interviews with fishers as well as Global Fishing Watch AIS data of suspected IUU fishing, including alleged shark finning and illegal transshipment at sea. The alleged illegal activities took place during a period when the ship was supplying tuna to Bumble Bee according to Trace My Catch.

Greenpeace East Asia urges immediate action from Bumble Bee and FCF, including issuing an apology to the exploited fishers, retailers and consumers, removing products suspected of IUU and forced labor-tainted tuna from the market, disclosure of their supplying vessels list, and establishment of an independent investigation committee for the flaw of Trace My Catch, to address issues of sustainability, legality and forced labor in their supply chain.

Read the text (Link).

Here’s How Appalachian States Can Create “Good-Paying, Union Jobs” Cleaning Up Mines

By Ben Hunkler - Ohio River Valley Institute, August 25 2022

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) earmarks $16 billion for cleaning up legacy damage from the coal and gas industries, an investment that Deb Haaland, Secretary of the Department of the Interior, has promised will create “good-paying, union jobs” across Appalachia.

Ohio River Valley Institute research shows that BIL funding could create as many as 4,000 jobs reclaiming coal mine damage, primarily in Appalachian counties with disproportionately high unemployment and poverty rates. But how will these jobs compare to the precarious, low- wage jobs that proliferate in the region? They may provide above-average wages, but they likely won’t be union and won’t pay enough to support a family.

Read the text (PDF).

Building a Domestic Offshore Wind Supply Chain: Workshop Summary Report

By Kevin Knobloch, Tim Steeves, and Sarah Clements - Labor Energy Partnership, June 2022

In March 2022, the LEP brought together an extraordinary group of leaders and experts for a private, virtual event on to workshop a series of four white papers related to building a robust domestic supply chain to support the emerging offshore wind (OSW) industry in the United States and abroad.

The workshop, moderated by Kevin Knobloch, distinguished associate at the EFI and president of Knobloch Energy, built on the discussion and conclusions of the first LEP OSW roundtable held in March 2021.

The aim of this new workshop was to explore and discuss the issues raised in the four white papers (across three focused discussion sessions) and help shape recommendations for actions and policies that can help create a robust domestic OSW supply chain.

This summary report seeks to capture the essence and any points of consensus of the rich discussion. The workshop was conducted under a modified Chatham House Rule to encourage candor in which it was agreed that this summary report will not attribute quotes to specific speakers by name or affiliation.

Offshore Wind Development and Supply Chain Overview

By Dave Effross - Labor Energy Partnership, June 2022

How do we make offshore wind (OSW) power competitive? Systems need to be created and put into place. This means we need not only energy infrastructure but also specialized construction and supply infrastructure. The University of Delaware’s Special Initiative in Offshore Wind (SIOW) has calculated estimates of what such a system would result in for the United States, based upon 32,352 megawatts (MW) of installed capacity in the Northeast from 2021 through 2030.

This paper estimates the volume/nature of material, equipment, infrastructure, and workforce that will be needed to support a 30 GW offshore wind industry by 2030—the national goal established by the Biden Harris Administration—while developing some perspective on the needs of a 110 GW industry projected by the Administration by 2050.

Addressing U.S. Manufacturing and Service Capacity/Gaps and Technical Standards

By David W. Cash - Labor Energy Partnership, June 2022

This paper attempts to analyze the existing offshore wind (OSW) supply chain and value chain capacity and gaps in U.S. manufacturing, vessels, ports, workforce development and standards. It further identifies opportunities and constraints in meeting goals of equity as the domestic OSW sector develops across all these dimensions. As the Biden administration notes, the development of the OSW sector offers the prospect not only to reduce emissions at scale, but also to seize the opportunity to create jobs along the value chain, create union and high-wage jobs, reduce U.S. sector uncertainties and drive equity, especially in overburdened and vulnerable communities.

Advancing Policy Measures to Drive Development of the Domestic Offshore Wind Supply Chain

By Liz Burdock, Ross Gould and Sam Salustro - Labor Energy Partnership, June 2022

Accelerating the growth of the U.S. offshore wind supply chain is critical to achieving national and state-level energy goals and will require a national strategy to succeed. This paper, titled Advancing Policy Measures to Drive Development of the Domestic Offshore Wind Supply Chain, assesses how current policies impact potential supply chain businesses and what is needed to help them retool or gain the capabilities needed to build out the U.S. offshore wind industry and compete in the global market. Secondary market forces, such as federal leasing processes and transmission capacities, play an important role in efforts to accelerate supply chain development and are discussed. This paper is informed by specific and general conversations with Network members actively working to build out a sustainable and competitive offshore wind supply chain. These insights are augmented by research into current global and European policies impacting the United States market and into comparable renewable energy technologies and their successes or failures in growing a domestic supply chain.

Revitalizing U.S. Shipbuilding With U.S.-Built Offshore Wind Installation and Maintenance Vessels

By Will Foster and Riley Ohlson - Labor Energy Partnership, June 2022

This paper assesses the opportunities and challenges for developing a fleet of Jones Act-compliant vessels for installation, maintenance and service of offshore wind infrastructure in the U.S., in consultation with shipbuilding unions.

Stimulating commercial shipbuilding activity is critical to facilitating OSW deployment while demonstrating the potential for this deployment to support and grow good manufacturing jobs.

Arguably, the greatest challenge facing sustained OSW development is neither technical nor financial but political. Many American workers, particularly those in industries tied to fossil fuels, are deeply skeptical of the prospects of a just transition and the fundamental ability for renewable energy production to support middle-class jobs.

The Power of Offshore Wind

By Sarah Clements and Angie Kaufman - Labor Energy Partnership, June 2022

The U.S. offshore wind energy industry is on the rise. As a climate solution with opportunities to create and support good-paying jobs, the offshore wind industry demonstrates the symbiosis between labor and the energy transition. 

This fact sheet was developed by EFI and AFL-CIO under the Labor Energy Partnership. It will help you understand the basics: what offshore wind energy is, why the East Coast has more potential, what the Biden Administration has pledged, and how to build the industry sustainably and equitably. 

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