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Guidelines for a just transition towards environmentally sustainable economies and societies for all

By staff - International Labor Organization, 2015

At its 102nd Session (2013), the International Labour Conference adopted a resolution and a set of conclusions, hereafter referred to as the conclusions, concerning sustainable development, decent work a nd green jobs putting forward a policy framework for a just transition.

At its 321st Session (June 2014), the Governing Body of the ILO endorsed the proposal to hold a tripartite meeting of experts in 2015 as a follow-up to the Conference conclusions.

Following the decision of the Governing Body, the Office convened the Tripartite Meeting of Experts from 5–9 October 2015 to:

  • review, amend and adopt draft guidel ines based on a compilation and thorough review by the Office of experiences from country policies and sectoral strategies towards environmental sustainability, the greening of enterprises, social inclusion and the promotion of green jobs;
  • distil lessons and good practices in respect of policy formulation in each of the nine policy areas identified in the just transition framework, through tripartite dialogue;
  • recommend ways to give practical effect to the guidelines in terms of their dissemination and practical application at the country level by constituents and adopt policy guidelines on a just transition towards environmentally sustainable economies and societies for all.

The following guidelines as agreed by the Experts are meant to provide non-binding practical orientation to Governments and social partners with some specific options on how to formulate, implement and monitor the policy framework, in accordance with national circumstances and priorities.

The guidelines are anchored in the vision, opportunities and challenges, guiding principles and the type of policies to implement, as contained in the conclusions. The guidelines also incorporate the International Labour Standards listed in the appendix to the conclusions across policy areas.

The following text reproduces verbatim parts of the text of the conclusions which provide the basis for the present policy guidelines. These parts include the vision, the opportunities and challenges identified, as well as guiding principles.

It also reproduces the introduction to the key policy areas a nd institutional arrangements framework and the paragraph concerning rights.

The latter includes a reference to the appendix of the conclusions with some international labour standards and resolutions that may be relevant to the just transition framework. This appendix is reproduced as Annex 1 of the present text.

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Offshore Wind Energy and Potential Economic Impacts in Long Island

By Staff - New York Energy Policy Institute and Stony Brook University, November 25, 2014

This study assesses the offshore wind energy and its potential economic impacts on Long Island. The study consists of four parts. It first reviews the literature on economic development benefits associated with wind energy development. We also assess the resource and market potentials of offshore wind based on four factors:

  • (a) prior estimates of offshore wind potential;
  • (b) federal leasing of submerged lands;
  • (c) state policies in support of offshore wind; and
  • (d) proposed offshore wind projects.

Existing research on the offshore wind supply chain is reviewed. These reviews are followed with an assessment of potential impacts on employment and economic activity in Long Island. This study employs JEDI model developed by National Renewable Energy Lab to determine the job creation and economic output associated with offshore wind development under two scenarios. This study reaches four major conclusions on the economic impacts of offshore wind energy on Long Island.

First, offshore wind energy can bring significant job and economic benefits to local economies. Previous studies provide varying estimates. Job creation associated with offshore wind development ranges from 7 to 42 jobs for each megawatt. It is reasonable, however, to conclude that offshore wind can generate about 20 jobs in a region with well-developed supply chain and approximately $3.3 million of new local economic development activity.

Second, states in the mid-Atlantic and northeast are rich in offshore wind resources, and have also established policies to support renewable energies, in certain cases including offshore wind.Our review of wind resources, siting and permitting restrictions, federal leasing, state policies, and market demand for offshore wind energy suggests that a Long Island-based offshore-wind industry can have a near-term addressable market of approximately 8,850 MW.

Third, the near-term local economic development opportunities are likely in foundations, blades and marine operations. Long Island is competitive in these areas because of its large, skilled labor base, experience in the aerospace industry and maritime industries.

This analysis finds that each offshore wind farm can produce hundreds of Long Island-based jobs and millions of dollars for the local economy. A single offshore wind farm (250 MW) built off Long Island coast can create 2,864 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs on Long Island or about 11 per MW, as well as approximately $645 million in local economic output, under a scenario assuming that the first offshore wind projects will have to use more service providers and equipment manufacturers outside Long Island as the Long Island supply-chain is built out. Under another scenario that assume Long Island offshore wind industry can achieve a scale of supporting 2,500 MW, more than 58 thousand FTE jobs and approximately $12.9 billion in local economic output can be expected. Our analysis suggests that offshore wind constitutes a significant opportunity for job creation and economic development on Long Island.

Read the report (PDF).

Cultivating Climate Justice: Brazilian Workers Leading the Charge Toward Zero Waste

By Beverly Bell - Climate Connections, November 18, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

This is part 1 of a four-part article series “Cultivating Climate Justice” which tells the stories of community groups on the front lines of the pollution, waste and climate crises, working together for systems change. United across six continents, these grassroots groups are defending community rights to clean air, clean water, zero waste, environmental justice, and good jobs. They are all members of the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, a network of over 800 organizations from 90+ countries.

This series is produced by the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) and Other Worlds.

The streets of Belo Horizonte were filled with singing, dancing, chanting, and marching. It was not a holiday or an election day or a soccer game. The chant was: “We don’t want incineration! Recycle! Recycle!”

It was September 19, 2014, and this was the launch of a national Zero Waste Alliance, Brazil style. Exuberant, celebratory, and led by recycling workers.

The recycling workers of Brazil have long been a powerful force in protecting their communities and the climate. Now they are on the forefront of a nation-wide movement for zero waste.

Walton Family, Owners of Walmart, Using Their Billions To Attack Rooftop Solar

By Mike Gaworecki - DeSmog Blog, November 16, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

A recent trend has seen utilities deciding that since they haven't been able to beat back the rise of rooftop solar companies, they might as well join them (or at least steal their business model). But the Walton Family, owners of Walmart as well as a stake in a manufacturer of solar arrays for utilties, aren't ready to give up the fight.

A new report by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance has found that, through their Walton Family Foundation, the Waltons have given $4.5 million dollars to groups like the American Enterprise Institute, the American Legislative Exchange Council, and Americans for Prosperity—groups that are attacking renewable energy policies at the state level and, specifically, pushing for fees on rooftop solar installations. The head of ALEC has even gone so far as to denigrate owners of rooftop solar installations as “freeriders.”

But support for groups seeking to halt the rise of clean energy is only half the story. According to Vice News, the Waltons own a 30% stake in First Solar, a company that makes solar arrays for power plants as “an economically attractive alternative or complement to fossil fuel electricity generation,” per its 2013 annual report, which also identifies “competitors who may gain in profitability and financial strength over time by successfully participating in the global rooftop PV solar market” as a threat to First Solar's future profitability.

Star Power: The Growing Role of Solar Energy, in America

By Judee Burr and Lindsey Hallock, Frontier Group and Rob Sargent, Environment America Research & Policy Center, Environment America - Publication, November 2014

America could meet its energy needs by capturing just a sliver of the virtually limit-less and pollution-free energy that strikes the nation every day in the form of sunlight. With solar installation costs falling, the efficiency of solar cells rising, and the threats of air pollution and global warming ever-looming, solar power is becoming a more attractive and widespread source of energy everyday.

Solar energy is on the rise across the country.The amount of solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity in the United States has tripled in the past two years. More than half of all new U.S. electricity generating capac-ity came from solar installations in the first half of 2014, and the United States now has enough solar electric capacity installed to power more than 3.2 million homes.

Read the report (Link).

Low carbon jobs: The evidence for net job creation from policy support for energy efficiency and renewable energy

By Will Blyth, Rob Gross, Jamie Speirs, Steve Sorrell, Jack Nicholls, Alex Dorgan, and Nick Hughes - UK Energy Research Center, November 2014

‘Green’ sectors account for as many as 3.4 million jobs in the EU, or 1.7% of all paid employment, more than car manufacturing or pharmaceuticals. Given the size of the green jobs market, and the expectation of rapid change and growth, there is a pressing need to independently analyse labour market dynamics and skills requirements in these sectors. What is more controversial is the question of whether policy driven expansion of specific green sectors actually creates jobs, particularly when the policies in question require subsidies that are paid for through bills or taxes. There are strong views on both sides of this debate. Politicians often cite employment benefits as part of the justification for investing in clean energy projects such as renewables and energy efficiency. Such claims are often backed up by project or sector-specific analyses. However, other literature is more sceptical, claiming that any intervention that raises costs in the energy sector will have an adverse impact on the economy as a whole.

The UKERC Technology and Policy Assessment (TPA) theme was set up to address such controversies through comprehensive assessment of the current evidence. This report aims to answer the following question:

“What is the evidence that policy support for investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency leads to net job creation in the implementing regions?”

The focus on net jobs here is important: whilst it is clear that jobs can be created at a local scale by spending money on new infrastructure projects, other jobs may be displaced if the new project provides activities or services that would otherwise have been provided elsewhere in the economy. Analysis of net jobs therefore needs to take account of both jobs created and jobs displaced.

Read the report (PDF).

Can We Earn a Living on a Living Planet? The need for jobs, and the ecological limits to growth

By Chuck Collins - American Prospect, October 13, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

It has been a tough couple of years in the effort to unite labor, community, and environmental groups, an alliance that has always been strained.

The extractive energy sector—coal, gas, oil—has historically had strong union representation and well-paying jobs. Tensions rose in 2011 after the Sierra Club escalated their campaign to close coal plants and 350.org, the climate protection group led by activist Bill McKibben, called for a halt to the Keystone XL Pipeline project.  Even Obama’s relatively mild order this past June on reducing pollution from power plants was opposed by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and the Mineworkers.

At a February 2013 meeting of labor and environmental activists, Damon Silvers, the AFL-CIO’s director of policy and special counsel, yelled and pounded the table, “Where is the transition plan for workers? Why isn’t this part of your demands?”

Divisions will increase in the coming years, as two competing urgencies collide. Labor and community justice organizations will demand jobs, economic growth, and reductions in inequality. And environmental activists will increase pressure to curtail fossil fuel production in the face of climate disruptions. Both the politics and the policies of these goals seem to diverge. But must they?

“Pitting jobs versus the environment is a false choice,” says Joe Uehlein, a longtime trade unionist, now board president of the Labor Network for Sustainability, which builds alliances between environmental and labor sectors. “We need to figure out how to make a living on a living planet.”

Greening the Union Label: Zero Carbon Future Could Be a Jobs Bonanza

By Steven Wishnia - The Indypendent, September 12, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

From teachers to transit workers, civil servants to electricians, the People’s Climate March will have more organized-labor participation than any environmentalist effort in U.S. history.

More than 50 unions, including some of the city’s biggest, are among the organizations sponsoring the march. The Service Employees International Union, the nation’s second largest, has endorsed it, and its two main New York locals, the health care workers of Local 1199 and the building service workers of Local 32BJ, are heavily involved. Also on board are District Council 37, the city’s largest public employee union; Transport Workers Union Local 100; Local 3 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; the Communications Workers of America, who represent city employees as well as telephone and cable-TV workers; and the city, state and Connecticut affiliates of the American Federation of Teachers.

The sponsors also include labor-based groups such as the Left Labor Project and the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, and “worker centers” that seek to organize low-wage and undocumented workers. Trade Unions for Energy Democracy is bringing union leaders from more than 10 countries, including the United Kingdom, Brazil, India, Korea, Canada and South Africa.

“Labor is marching because climate change affects all of us,” says Local 32BJ President Hector Figueroa. “We live in the communities that get destroyed by storms like Sandy. We work in the buildings that get flooded. We get hit by health epidemics like asthma that are rampant in our communities, and we care about the world that we will leave for our children and grandchildren.” 

“Labor has come to the conclusion that it is a workers’ issue, some of us faster than others,” says Estela Vazquez, a Local 1199 vice president.

How To Make Fighting Climate Change Work For Workers

By Andrew Breiner - Think Progress, October 2, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

At first glance, it looks grim.

The EPA indicated Thursday that industry in the U.S. released more carbon dioxide (CO2) in 2013 than 2012, the wrong trend when we need to be making large cuts to get global warming under control. Meanwhile a report from the Center For American Progress and the University of Massachusetts’ Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) shows that we’re nowhere near cutting CO2 enough to prevent catastrophic global warming. If we continue with business as usual, U.S. emissions in 2030 will actually be slightly higher than they were in 2010, 80 percent higher than they need to be. Even with the “full implementation of the best clean energy policies currently considered achievable,” what the authors call the “aggressive reference case”, we’d still be well above the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) target, by 40 percent.

EIA Reference Case is where the Energy Information Administration expects us to be on our current track. The aggressive case includes current efforts to reduce CO2. And the final case is the study authors' recommendation.

“I kind of fell off my chair,” Robert Pollin, one of the report’s authors, said in a phone interview. “If you look at the institutions that do serious models of our energy future over the next generation or so, they’re saying we’re not going to control climate change. That’s the most likely scenario. That’s shocking.” But this report makes the case that there’s still hope. “The results from our research say that we can achieve the emissions reduction target through very significant action,” Pollin said, but “we can achieve it.”

“As long as we’re committed, it’s not beyond reach.”

In the report, “Green Growth: A U.S. Program for Controlling Climate Change and Expanding Job Opportunities,” the authors lay out how the government should take action to cut carbon in extensive detail. On energy efficiency, for example, the report describes specific ways of improving efficiency, and how much energy they can be expected to save, from the realm of consumer appliances to industrial practices in the pulp and paper industry. And efficiency is where the authors expect to see a lot of progress.

Screen Shot 2014-10-02 at 10.06.21 AM “The single biggest opportunity,” Bracken Hendricks of the Center for American Progress said, “is the urgency of retrofitting buildings to use less energy.” That has the benefit of being a very labor-heavy task, as is much of the work needed to cut carbon. “When you invest in clean economy,” Hendricks said, “you’re taking dollars from extractive resources and investing them in high-skill, high wage jobs.”

The report estimates 4.2 million jobs would be created by its recommendations, and 2.7 million after accounting for the loss of fossil fuel jobs. With a labor market of 155 million, that might not seem like so much, Pollin said, “but in an all else equal world, that’s a 1.5 to 2% reduction in the unemployment rate.”

And lower unemployment means more bargaining power for workers. “It directly contradicts the notion that investing in the environment means job losses, that it’s bad for jobs,” Pollin said. The Green Growth plan would also include money to retrain workers who lose their jobs as the economy shifts away from fossil fuels. Since concern for workers is at the forefront of the report, Pollin said, “we’ve taken a lot of pains on transitional policies for workers.”

One million dollars in spending on fossil fuels results in only 5.3 jobs if spent in oil, natural gas, and coal, the report says, compared with 16.7 jobs if spent in clean energy investments. Spending on renewables not only creates high-skill, high wage jobs at a higher rate than spending on fossil fuels, but it also creates a good number of low-wage jobs with opportunity for advancement. “It really creates an opportunity to create career ladders and training opportunities into the middle class,” Hendricks said.

Government spending would be an essential part of making this plan a reality, but not nearly as much as one might think for an effort to contain catastrophic global warming. The total yearly investments, public and private, needed to make the Green Growth plan a reality would be only $200 billion, which is 1.2 percent of total U.S. gross domestic product. The total government expenditure per year would average $55 billion, which is 1.4 percent of the total government budget. “There’s a window to make the investments that need to be done,” Hendricks said, “but it’s a small window and rapidly narrowing.”

While there’s a lot out there saying in the abstract what we need to do to limit climate change, action can sometimes seem impossible and far-off. But this is an actual road map, Hendricks said, “on the investments in technology, infrastructure, and communities,” that will actually solve the problem. And it translates “into a very compelling roadmap on how to rebuild the economy.”

How the Walton Family is Threatening Our Clean Energy Future

By Stacy Mitchell - Institute for Local Self-Reliance, October 2014

Critical fights over the future of our energy system are underway in dozens of states, with far-reaching implications for both climate change and our economy. At issue is the recent, rapid expansion of rooftop solar, which is revolutionizing who owns and profits from electricity generation. Rather than power production being monopolized by utilities, more and more households are becoming energy producers themselves. This transition is saving families money and driving the creation of tens of thousands of well-paying jobs.

But rooftop solar threatens the profits of utilities and the companies that supply them with energy. These powerful interests have gone on the offensive and are campaigning to weaken policies that enable rooftop solar in multiple states. They have begun to score wins, including a pivotal victory in Arizona, where regulators granted the state’s largest utility, APS, the right to impose new fees on households with rooftop solar. The fees have undermined the economics of rooftop solar, dramatically slowing installations and causing widespread job losses.

Read the report (PDF).

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