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energy transition

Infrastructural Solidarity

Freedom School: What Is Climate Justice and Why Are Unions Integral to It?

How the Rural New Deal Could Shake up National Politics & Support Strong Rural Communities

California Workers’ Climate Bill of Rights

By staff - California Labor for Climate Jobs, October 2023

Climate change is forcing a massive restructuring of our economy; a worker-led transition provides a once- in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape our economy for working people and our communities while limiting climate dangers. Labor rights are a climate solution: we must increase workers’ voice on the job in all sectors through unionization, and invest in our public sector to build the democratic, clean, green economy we need. Massive investments in our infrastructure, agriculture and public sectors are moving us towards meeting California’s climate goals and can create a million new union jobs for pipefitters, carpenters, manufacturers, electricians, cable layers, public transit operators, agricultural workers and others. Expanding the public services our communities need to cope with extreme weather and climate disasters will create jobs for nurses, care workers, public sector workers and more, while providing new opportunities for workers who have been trapped in low-wage jobs.

A worker-led transition means fighting to support fossil-fuel dependent workers and communities, including wage and pension guarantees and retraining, rather than leaving it to the whims of the oil CEOs to dictate the terms of the transition. From West Virginia to Los Angeles, we have seen how unplanned closures and economic shifts have devastated workers and the communities where they live.

Transition is inevitable, but economic and racial justice are not. If labor takes the lead, we have a historic opportunity to grow the labor movement and create a cleaner, more equitable, and climate-safe economy that provides high-road, family-sustaining, union jobs.

Download a copy of this publication here (PDF).

California’s Climate Investments and High Road Workforce Standards: Gaps and Opportunities for Advancing Workforce Equity

By Sam Appel and Jessie HF Hammerling - UC Labor Center, September 20, 2023

California continues to lead the nation in charting a path to economy-wide decarbonization. On this path, the state has committed to pursuing a high road transition that prioritizes the development of a sustainable economy grounded in equity for workers and communities.

In our 2020 report Putting California on the High Road: A Jobs and Climate Action Plan for 2030 (JCAP), commissioned by the California Legislature in Assembly Bill 398 (Garcia, 2017), the UC Berkeley Labor Center offered guidance for policymakers on how to ensure an equitable energy transition for workers in California. That report describes clear, proven strategies for maximizing the creation of high-quality jobs across the low-carbon economy, broadening opportunities for workers of color and workers from historically marginalized communities, delivering the skilled workforce needed to achieve California’s climate targets, and protecting workers in transitioning industries.

This report presents a current snapshot of the state’s progress in implementing several of these strategies by examining the integration of high road workforce standards across California’s climate investments. Specifically, we review existing high road standard policies in California, and assess the reach of high road standards across the state’s proposed climate investments in California’s 2022-23 state budget.

Download a copy of this publication here (PDF).

Progressive Groups Unveil 'Rural New Deal' to 'Reverse Decades of Economic Decline'

By Jessica Corbett - Common Dreams, September 13, 2023

"A Rural New Deal is urgently needed to build and rebuild local economies across rural America, reverse 40 years of wealth and corporate concentration, restore degraded lands, reclaim land and ownership opportunities for those whose land was taken by force or deceit, and ensure that communities and the nation can and do meet the basic needs of its people."

That's the opening line of a report released Tuesday by Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) and the Rural Urban Bridge Initiative (RUBI), which recognizes that "for too long, we've neglected, dismissed and underinvested" in rural U.S. communities, and offers "a broad policy blueprint to help steer progressive priorities" in such regions.

"Addressing the problems and concerns of rural America, isn't just the right thing to do, it is essential for the health of our nation. Progressives have ignored rural for too long," said PDA executive director Alan Minsky in a statement. "The Rural New Deal will change that."

A Rural New Deal

By Anthony Flaccavento, Alan Minsky, and Dave Alba - Progressive Democrats of AMerica and Rural Urban Bridge Institute, September 12, 2023

A Rural New Deal is urgently needed to build and rebuild local economies across rural America, reverse forty years of wealth and corporate concentration, restore degraded lands, reclaim land and ownership opportunities for those whose land was taken by force or deceit, and ensure that communities and the nation can and do meet the basic needs of its people. This document proposes ten pillars essential to a Rural New Deal, each with a modest amount of detail about specific policies in order to understand what implementation of the pillar might look like.

At the heart of a RND is the recognition that rural places are fundamentally different from urban and suburban areas, not only culturally and politically, but physically. They are “rural” because they are expansive and land-based. This does not mean that all efforts to rebuild rural economies and communities should revolve around farming or other land-based sectors. However, it does mean that land-based (also including rivers, lakes and oceans) enterprises must still play a central role in rural development, even as internet access, virtual work and the tech sector grow in importance.

While rural and urban places are fundamentally different, they are also deeply intertwined. Many farmers, fishers, foresters and other rural businesses have come to rely on urban markets and in some cases, capital to sustain them. On the other hand, towns and cities need healthy, functioning rural communities for their food, fiber, energy and clean water, indeed for their very survival. Yet for too long, we’ve neglected, dismissed and underinvested in the people that provide these essential goods along with critical ecological services. This has caused great harm to rural communities and it has undermined our collective health and resilience as a nation. Rebuilding and renewing supportive social and economic connections across rural and urban lines, empowering rural people and communities, moving away from extractive relationships of the past, is the course we must chart together.

Download a copy of this publication here (PDF).

The Green New Deal from Below and the Future of Work

(Working Paper #16) Beyond Recovery: The Global Green New Deal and Public Ownership of Energy

By Sean Sweeney - Trade Unions for Energy Democracy, August 31, 2023

Following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, calls for a GGND and a commitment to GPGs intensified. In July 2020, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres declared, “The global political and economic system is not delivering on critical global public goods: public health, climate action, sustainable development, peace…we need a New Global Deal to ensure that power, wealth and opportunities are shared more broadly and fairly at the international level.” 

Authored by TUED Coordinator Sean Sweeney, the paper argues that a GGND of the left must distinguish itself from green “recovery economics.” Many North-based progressives are comfortable talking about the need for “more public investment,” and the need for “ambitious climate action” but many continue to be vague or agnostic on questions of public ownership and control. 

The paper argues that an undiscerning approach to public investment weakens the case for a GGND. It shows how the current emphasis on “de-risking” private investment means that public money is used to make profitable what would not otherwise be profitable. Obama’s stimulus package of 2008, to the more recent Green Deal for Europe, and the Biden Administration’s Inflation Recovery Act that commits $369 billion of public spending to secure long-term revenue streams and profits for mostly private investors and developers. The more recent “Just Energy Transition Partnerships” and the emphasis on “blended finance” are an extension of this approach. 

Taking a deep dive into the roots of neoliberal climate policy, Beyond Recovery shows how a “recovery” narrative has helped both conceal and perpetuate the failures of the current investor-focused approach to energy transition and climate protection. For more than three decades, this approach has shown itself to be ineffective in terms of reducing economy-wide emissions. Sweeney describes the policy as a resilient failure, the extent of which is not always fully grasped. 

Energy: The Means of Production

The paper argues that a left GGND must view public investment as a means to extend public ownership, with energy systems and critical supply chains being a priority target. 

Public ownership of energy gives governments the power to pivot away from the highly commodified “energy for profit” regime. More than any single policy option, control over energy will ensure that governments are better positioned to advance an economy-wide energy transition in ways that can control and then reduce emissions while also addressing joblessness, inequality, and other social problems. It can set the stage for the kind of sweeping interventions in the political economy that are needed to address climate change, confront the political power of fossil fuel interests, and intercept the dynamics of “endless growth” capitalism. 

Download a copy of this publication here (PDF).

The Green New Deal from Below Means Jobs

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