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Labor Network for Sustainability (LNS)

‘COP28 should be the most important meeting in the history of the world’

By David Hill and Jeremy Brecher - Labor Network for Sustainability, November 30, 2023

British journalist DAVID HILL interviewed Jeremy Brecher in the lead-up to COP28 about why international climate negotiations fail and how a “global nonviolent constitutional insurgency” could be a climate game-changer.

DH: Last year when we were in touch you said you thought COP27 “should be the most important meeting in the history of the world – nothing could be more important than international agreement to meet the climate targets laid out by climate science and agreed to by the world’s governments at the Paris Climate Summit.” Do you feel the same about COP28?

JB: Of course, COP28 should be the most important meeting in the history of the world. That was also true of COP27, COP26 and all the previous COP climate meetings. While they should be producing international agreement to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to zero, the reality is that the decades of international climate conferences have simply legitimated ever rising GHG emissions and ever increasing climate destruction. The idea that it is being hosted by Dubai and chaired by Sultan Ahmed al-Jaber, the head of the United Arab Emirates’s state-owned oil company, represents the height of absurdity – like putting Al Capone in charge of alcohol regulation. Sultan al-Jaber’s letter laying out plans for COP 28 is lacking in ambition to reduce climate destruction. The entire so-called international climate protection process is now controlled by those who hope to gain by climate destruction. A global nonviolent insurgency against the domination of the fossil fuel industry and the governments it controls appears to be the only practical means to counter their plan to destroy humanity.

DH: In other words, COP28 should be the most important meeting in the history of the world, but it’s not going to be. What do you think is the percentage chance of an international agreement to phase out fossil fuels being reached?

JB: The answer to this one is easy: there is zero chance that COP28 will produce an agreement that will actually phase out fossil fuels. The forces that are in control of the governments represented in COP28 represent fossil fuel interests that are intent on continuing and if possible expanding their use. US President Eisenhower once said that the people wanted peace so much that some day the governments would have to get out of their way and let them have it. An international agreement that will actually phase out fossil fuels will come when governments discover that if they want to go on governing they have to let the people have climate safety.

The Green New Deal: From Below or from Above?

How Social Movements Escape Silos

By Jeremy Brecher - Labor Network for Sustainability, March 11, 2024

The principal problems of movement unity do not involve uniting the already like-minded, but drawing together those who are siloed or even antagonistic. But how do we move past such fragmentation? My observation as a historian of social movements is that a crucial reason for movements to de-silo, cooperate, and converge is from a perception of the possibility of gaining power to affect problems through greater cooperation and mutual support.

To show that such overcoming of divisions does actually happen, and that it is related to the aspiration for more effective power, let me briefly sketch four examples of de-siloing, growing cooperation, and partial convergence among movements.

Globalization from below, also known as the anti-globalization or global justice movement, brought together a highly diverse range of movements and organizations from all over the world. After gestating for years in response to “globalization from above,” globalization from below burst into public view with the 1999 “Battle of Seattle” that shut down the attempt to establish the World Trade Organization as a neoliberal economic constitution for the world. As author and activist Vandana Shiva put it in the aftermath of the Battle of Seattle, “When labor joins hands with environmentalists, when farmers from the North and farmers from the South make a common commitment to say ‘no’ to genetically engineered crops, they are not acting as special interests. They are defending the common interests and common rights of all people, everywhere.”[1] That process has continued in myriad forms, notably in the global gatherings of the World Social Forum.[2]

A California Strategy for a Just Transition to Renewable Energy

By Veronica Wilson - Labor Network for Sustainability, March 1, 2024

Workers in California have allied with environmental, environmental justice, and community groups to move the state closer to a just transition to renewable energy. 

California has a strong movement for Community Choice Aggregation (CCA), which allows municipalities to bargain with electricity suppliers over both price and environmental responsibility. Nine Community Choice Aggregators are united in a joint power procurement agency called California Community Power. 

California’s Workforce and Environmental Justice Alliance has been pushing California Community Power to establish policies to protect workers in the transition to climate-safe energy. In a recent win, Ava Energy in the East Bay adopted these policies – the fourth member of California Community Power to do so. According to Andreas Cluver, Building Trades Council of Alameda County:

Any approach to climate action must also factor in the sustainability of our workforce. By passing this package of policies, Ava Community Energy uplifts local workers while fulfilling its obligation towards responsible environmental stewardship. We look forward to partnering with Ava on these important community projects. 

This marks a pivotal moment for workers and communities as the region looks to ramp up investments in green technology and decarbonization. Ava’s new policies underscore the positive impact CCAs can have on labor standards, environmental stewardship, and community well-being.

Learn more about the Alliance’s impactful work: https://action.greencal.org/action/wej 

Transit Equity Day Promotes “Stronger Communities through Better Transit”

By staff - Labor Network for Sustainability, March 1, 2024

To mark Climate Equity Day 2024, LNS Transit Organizer Bakari Height wrote in an Op Ed published in five newspapers:

For far too long, policymakers in Washington have prioritized highways and cars over public transit. This has devastating impacts not only for the climate crisis but on the budgets of local transit agencies and communities across the nation.

The fix?

>A new piece of legislation introduced last month by Congressman Hank Johnson from the Atlanta area would change that. The bill titled, “Stronger Communities through Better Transit Act” will provide high-quality transit to communities across the country.

A Newsweek op ed by John Samuelsen, international president of the Transport Workers Union and John Costa, international president of the Amalgamated Transit Union, explains how the Act would work:

The legislation would allocate $20 billion annually for four years, specifically so agencies could “make substantial improvements in transit service.” That’s $80 billion for operations, not capital projects.

>With such financial support, agencies could significantly boost their current schedules and run buses and trains more frequently. They could robustly extend the hours of operation on routes and lines that now are shut down for the night. And they could add entirely new service, like a local or express bus route, in tragically underserved neighborhoods.

>

For Height’s full op ed: https://chicagocrusader.com/honor-rosa-parks-not-through-words-but-action/ 

For Samuelsen and Costa’s full op ed: https://www.newsweek.com/working-people-need-congress-fund-mass-transit-opinion-1866491 

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How the Green New Deal from Below Integrates Diverse Constituencies

By Jeremy Brecher - Labor Network for Sustainability, February 2, 2024

Green New Deal initiatives at local, state, regional, and civil society levels around the country have drawn together diverse, sometimes isolated, or even conflicted constituencies around common programs for climate, jobs, and justice. How have they done so?

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