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Manifesto for an Ecosocial Energy Transition from the Peoples of the South

By Peoples of the Global South - Foreign Policy in Practice, February 9, 2023

An appeal to leaders, institutions, and our brothers and sisters

More than two years after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic—and now alongside the catastrophic consequences of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine—a “new normal” has emerged. This new global status quo reflects a worsening of various crises: social, economic, political, ecological, bio-medical, and geopolitical.

Environmental collapse approaches. Everyday life has become ever more militarized. Access to good food, clean water, and affordable health care has become even more restricted. More governments have turned autocratic. The wealthy have become wealthier, the powerful more powerful, and unregulated technology has only accelerated these trends.

The engines of this unjust status quo—capitalism, patriarchy, colonialism, and various fundamentalisms—are making a bad situation worse. Therefore, we must urgently debate and implement new visions of ecosocial transition and transformation that are gender-just, regenerative, and popular, that are at once local and international.

In this Manifesto for an Ecosocial Energy Transition from the Peoples of the South, we hold that the problems of the Global – geopolitical – South are different from those of the Global North and rising powers such as China. An imbalance of power between these two realms not only persists because of a colonial legacy but has deepened because of a neocolonial energy model. In the context of climate change, ever rising energy needs, and biodiversity loss, the capitalist centers have stepped up the pressure to extract natural wealth and rely on cheap labor from the countries on the periphery. Not only is the well-known extractive paradigm still in place but the North’s ecological debt to the South is rising.

What’s new about this current moment are the “clean energy transitions” of the North that have put even more pressure on the Global South to yield up cobalt and lithium for the production of high-tech batteries, balsa wood for wind turbines, land for large solar arrays, and new infrastructure for hydrogen megaprojects. This decarbonization of the rich, which is market-based and export-oriented, depends on a new phase of environmental despoliation of the Global South, which affects the lives of millions of women, men, and children, not to mention non-human life. Women, especially from agrarian societies, are amongst the most impacted. In this way, the Global South has once again become a zone of sacrifice, a basket of purportedly inexhaustible resources for the countries of the North.

How To Combat The Cumbria Coalmine and Other Retrograde Energy Projects

The Green Transition

California Aims To Boot Dirty Investment With California Fossil Fuel Divestment Act (SB 252)

By Zachary Shahan - Clean Technica, February 9, 2023

California continues to be a climate and cleantech leader. One of its big recent announcements in this regard is that state policymakers have introduced the California Fossil Fuel Divestment Act (SB 252).

Naturally, this divestment move was stimulated by young adults, students. It was then introduced by Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), Senator Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach), and Senator Henry Stern (D-Los Angeles) in the California Senate. The package actually covers a range of topics. It is “a suite of bills that work together to improve transparency, standardize disclosures, align public investments with climate goals, and raise the bar on corporate action to address the climate crisis.”

One of the shocking stats that the parties use to emphasize the importance of this matter and the stunning reality of human-induced global heating is that 71% of greenhouse gas emissions to date have come from just 100 companies. “Without corporate action to reduce these emissions, California would be unable to meet its climate goals,” the state senators surmise. “At a time when rising anti-science sentiment is driving strong pushback against responsible business practices like risk disclosure and ESG investing, these bills leverage the power of California’s market to continue the state’s long tradition of setting the gold standard on environmental protection for the nation and the world.”

Code Words Hint At Eliminating Jobs & Stifling Renewable Energy Employment

By Carolyn Fortuna - Clean Technica, February 6, 2023

The term “just transition” emerged from the 1970s North American labor movement to become a campaign for a planned energy transition. It includes justice and fairness for workers through united future visions about economic and climate action. These days it’s incredibly contentious.

Wouldn’t you think that renewable energy employment would be uplifting fossil fuel communities and remaking climate politics? Not so fast. Eliminating jobs in the fossil fuel sector has become highly controversial.

Language in headlines and social media posts is reinforcing the place and power of the fossil fuel industry, helping to keep it from becoming little more than stranded assets and from being held accountable for the climate crisis. The words “just transition” are a not-so-secret code that triggers mistrust and confusion among the energy workforce — the same workers who are most likely to benefit from the renewable energy employment marketplace.

Generally, a just transition is defined as programs, services, legislation, and practices that include equity opportunities for all in the move from fossil fuels to renewable energy. I’ve written several times here at CleanTechnica about a just transition and how fears about eliminating jobs are unwarranted (see here, here, here, and here, among others). But what seemed less evident to me then and now a bit naïve now is the degree to which the fossil fuel industry has turned its mighty propaganda forces against renewables while, concurrently, embellishing their professed concern for worker livelihoods.

Just Transition for Rail

By Chris Saltmarsh - The Ecologist, February 6, 2023

A review of Derailed: How to Fix Britain’s Railways, by Tom Haines-Doran, published by Manchester University Press.

As climate change intensifies, the imperative to shift our transport system away from polluting private cars to public transport – rail in particular – becomes increasingly urgent.

At the same time, amid an inflationary crisis, rail workers are at the forefront of a nationwide wave of strike action defending pay and conditions.

In Derailed: How to Fix Britain’s Broken Railways, Tom Haines-Doran puts the UK’s rail system in these political-economic contexts with a compelling account of its history, present conditions and future possibilities.

ITUC report shows big economic returns for modest investment in infrastructure, the care economy and the green economy

By Özlem Onaran and Cem Oyvat - International Trade Union Confederation, February 6, 2023

The study simulated the impact that public spending increases in the care economy, the green economy, and infrastructure could have across eight countries.

The report shows that a repeated annual increase in public spending by 1% of GDP within these three sectors would yield major economic returns that exceed the initial level of investments made. The findings reveal that:

  • Investing an extra 1% of GDP in the care economy over five years would yield an average GDP increase of more than 11%, as well as a 6.3% increase in total employment levels.
  • An extra 1% of GDP investment in the green economy over five years would yield an average GDP increase of 10%, as well as a 7.5% increase in total employment levels.
  • An extra 1% of GDP on infrastructure investment over five years would increase both employment and GDP levels by 12% on average.

Owen Tudor, ITUC Deputy General Secretary, stressed: “The lingering employment effects of Covid-19, as well as a rapidly changing world of work, have underscored the urgency of addressing employment deficits and inequalities. Governments must step up their investments to support the creation of quality jobs – especially in strategic sectors that are good for both people and the planet including care, infrastructure and the green economy.”

At the global level, trade unions are calling for the creation of 575 million jobs and the formalisation of at least one billion informal jobs by 2030, to enable delivery of the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda commitment for full employment and decent work under Sustainable Development Goal 8.

Read the report (Link).

Railroad Nationalization Must Be Part of the Green New Deal

By Mayor Seidel - Sewer Socialists, February 5, 2023

In December, Congress and the Biden Administration forced a deal on railroad workers and stripped them of their right to strike. This made two things clear: how draconian the private freight railroads are to their workers, and yet how essential they are to the functioning of the country. Equally, private railroads are not only essential to the economy, but to the climate. Transportation is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than any other sector, including electricity generation. Within transportation, among the modes primarily used for freight (trucks, rail, and boats), railroads were responsible for only 7% of emissions despite carrying 27% of cargo (in ton-miles). Despite being a net reducer of emissions by taking trucks off the roads, the private railroads are avowed enemies of climate action. Afraid of losing their lucrative coal-hauling traffic, the same four railroads who Congress acted on behalf of have spent millions to lobby against climate action and deny climate change. Capitalists who bankroll climate deniers own the most important system of low-carbon infrastructure on the continent.

The effects of the existing freight railroads on climate change, both good and ill, are minuscule compared to the unrealized potential that they hold. The railroads would have a higher share of freight traffic if not for the shortsighted management of their private ownership. Additionally, 57% of transportation emissions come from “light duty vehicles,” i.e. passenger cars. The strongest opportunities to eliminate car trips are in urban centers, by building inviting pedestrian spaces, safe bicycle infrastructure and robust public transit networks. At the same time, to build a credible alternative to automobile travel, these green transportation systems must be connected to one another into metropolitan and intercity rail networks. This cannot be done without the infrastructure that, outside the Northeast, is controlled by the private freight railroads.

The private railroads are hostile to passenger service, which they see as a threat to their freight operations. Amtrak publishes a “report card” each year, ranking the private freight railroads by how much they delayed passenger trains. In 2021, at least 20% of riders were delayed on more than half of state-supported routes and 14 of 15 long-distance routes. The private railroads even hold back some commuter railroad services. Several Metra lines serving suburban Chicagoland are operated under “purchase-of-service” agreements with freight railroads, leaving commuters at the mercy of their private owners. Newer systems like Virginia’s VRE that use private freight corridors must negotiate complicated and expensive agreements with host railroads to expand service. Confronting climate change must include rationalizing the relationship between freight and passenger rail service, both of which are essential to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

How Much Will It Take For A Just Climate Transition In Spain?

By Carolyn Fortuna - Clean Technica, February 4, 2023

Spain will receive almost €869 million from the Just Transition Fund to kickstart its energy transformation in equitable ways.

It’s imperative that the climate transition in Spain work to phase out coal for energy production ahead of its 2030 initial energy scheme planning. If successful, the end result will be a region invested in energy efficiency, circular economy, and clean energy sources. It will foster economic resilience, renewables, and jobs.

And it looks like it just might happen. Spain will receive almost €869 million from the Just Transition Fund (JTF) following the adoption of the Just Transition Program, which includes its Territorial Just Transition Plan (TJTP).

The Just Transition Mechanism (JTM) is a key tool to ensure that the transition towards a climate-neutral economy happens in a fair way, leaving no one behind. The JTM addresses the social and economic effects of the transition, focusing on the regions, industries, and workers who will face the greatest challenges, through 3 pillars.

  • A new Just Transition Fund of €19.2 billion in current prices, is expected to mobilize around €25.4 billion in investments.
  • The InvestEU “Just Transition” scheme will provide a budgetary guarantee under the InvestEU program across the 4 policy windows and an InvestEU Advisory Hub that will act as a central entry point for advisory support requests. It is expected to deploy €10-15 billion in mostly private sector investments.
  • A new Public Sector Loan Facility will combine €1.5 billion of grants financed from the EU budget with €10 billion of loans from the European Investment Bank, to marshall €18.5 billion of public investment.

The JTF will invest in solar, offshore wind, renewable hydrogen, and the green transformation of the country’s industry in several concerning areas, according to the EU:

  • the province of A Coruña in Galicia
  • the provinces of Teruel in Aragón, León, and Palencia in Castilla y León
  • the provinces of Almería, Cádiz, and Córdoba in Andalusia
  • a group of municipalities around Alcúdia on the island of Mallorca

The region of Asturias will receive almost one third of the Spanish JTF funding, in part to support an innovation hub for artificial intelligence in a former mining site.

Reimagining Energy For Our Communities

By Crystal Huang, Jessica Tovar, Nora Elmarzouky, Ruth Santiago, and Al Weinrub - The Energy Democracy Project, February 2023

The energy systems in place today, in which energy development, control, ownership, and decision-making resides within Wall Street and corporate electric utilities, negatively impact the health and safety of communities, and fail to provide the energy needed to live, especially in the face of climate disaster.

A product of deep collaboration between grassroots organizations, the REFOCUS zine is a graphic tool meant to be shared with community, teams, and anyone interested in understanding the path towards energy justice.

Download the zine to learn how Energy Democracy work is connected from Alaska to Puerto Rico, and build a movement for energy democracy with your community! 

Download a copy of this publication here (PDF).

Pages

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