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just recovery

COP26: Jobs plans with just transition essential to implementation of Glasgow Agreement

By staff - International Trade Union Confederation, Novemver 15, 2021

COP27 must keep 1.5C in reach through raised ambition, and agreed Loss and Damage Mechanisms must be central to any outcome.

“For workers and their communities, the social dialogue vital for just transition plans, with jobs at their centre, must begin now. Nothing less than national jobs plans and company jobs plans can be accepted.

“Commitments on deforestation, methane, increasing finance for adaptation, recognising the need for more support for vulnerable countries and the agreed rules on carbon markets are all welcome but don’t go far enough.

“Science tells us that the absolute priority must be rapid, deep, and sustained emissions reductions in this decade – specifically, a 45% cut by 2030 compared to 2010 levels. We are still knocking on the door of climate catastrophe. Now it is time to see all governments and all companies get serious about transition plans – with just transition measures in all industries – if we are to have a fighting chance of staying within the 1.5 target,” said Sharan Burrow, general secretary, ITUC.

Making COP26 Count: How investing in public transport this decade can protect our jobs, our climate, our future

By staff - International Transport Workers Federation and C40 Cities Leadership Group, November 10, 2021

Transport is currently responsible for a quarter of CO2 emissions. To combat this, a global shift to public transport, walking and cycling is needed, reducing car use alongside a transition to zero-emission vehicles. The proportion of public transport journeys in the world’s cities must double in this decade to bring global emissions down, in line with keeping the temperature rise to 1.5°C. Without this action, it will simply not be possible for countries to deliver on the global goal to at least halve emissions within this decade.

Climate protection cannot work without a modal shift. Local transport must become a good alternative to cars … above all, people must be taken along.

Robert Seifert, young vehicle maintenance worker, Berlin Doubling public transport usage as part of a green recovery would, by 2030, create tens of millions of jobs in cities around the world (4.6 million new jobs in the nearly 100 C40 cities alone), cut urban transport emissions by more than half, and reduce air pollution from transport by up to 45%2. It would protect lower-income and service-sector workers and connect city residents to work, education and community.

Read the text (PDF).

Just recovery and transition: IFIs must act to end the pandemic and achieve a sustainable future

By Global Unions - International Trade Union Confederation, October 29, 2021

The global labour movement has proposed comprehensive measures for the international financial institutions to support a just recovery and transition, including speeding-up production and distribution of vaccines, and putting social dialogue and labour rights at the centre of climate action. The statement calls for suspension or elimination of surcharges on IMF loans, which put an unfair burden on countries in crisis. Discussions moved forward but no decision was reached.

Read the text (PDF).

Climate Jobs and Just Transition Summit: Strong Unions, Sustainable Transport

The Green Jobs Advantage: How Climate Friendly Investments are Better Job Creators

By Joel Jager, et. al. - World Resources Institute, International Trade Union Confederation, and The Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, October 2021

As part of their COVID-19 recovery efforts, many governments continue to fund unsustainable infrastructure, even though this ignores the urgency of addressing climate change and will not secure longterm stability for workers.

Our analysis of studies from around the world finds that green investments generally create more jobs per US$1 million than unsustainable investments. We compare near-term job effects from clean energy versus fossil fuels, public transportation versus roads, electric vehicles versus internal combustion engine vehicles, and nature-based solutions versus fossil fuels.

Green investments can create quality jobs, but this is not guaranteed. In developing countries, green jobs can provide avenues out of poverty, but too many are informal and temporary, limiting access to work security, safety, or social protections. In developed countries, new green jobs may have wages and benefits that aren’t as high as those in traditional sectors where, in many cases, workers have been able to fight for job quality through decades of collective action.

Government investment should come with conditions that ensure fair wages and benefits, work security, safe working conditions, opportunities for training and advancement, the right to organize, and accessibility to all.

Read the text (PDF).

Facing Fossil Fuels’ Future: Challenges and Opportunities for Workers in Canada’s Energy and Labour Transitions

By Teika Newton and Jamie Kirkpatrick - Climate Action Network and BlueGreen Canada, September 2021

Canada has a climate plan but it does not lay out a plan for the future of oil and gas extraction that aligns with the goal to limit global warming to 1.5°C, leaving workers and communities with an uncertain future. The Canada Energy Regulator warns that the future of oil sands extraction, which makes up 62 percent of Canada’s oil output, is uncertain due to the projected drop in the future oil demand as the global pace of decarbonization increases.

Meanwhile, a study backed by the UN Environment Programme further states that global oil and gas output would have to decline by over one third by 2030 and over one half by 2040 to achieve the goal of limiting warming to 1.5°C. In early 2021, the International Energy Agency, one of the world’s foremost authorities on global energy forecasting, published a landmark report, Net Zero by 2050, in which the agency declared that oil and gas output should be constrained to existing operations in order to meet the 1.5°C temperature goals articulated in the Paris Agreement. Constraining Canadian oil and gas output to existing fields approximates a similar rate of phaseout to that proposed by the UNEP-backed report.

he Canadian oil and gas industry, including upstream activities, pipelines, and services, provides approximately 405,000 jobs - 167,000 direct jobs and 238,000 jobs across supply chains. In response to oil price crises, industry’s solution to protect profits has historically been to slash jobs while maintaining output. As a result the number of jobs per barrel of output has already fallen by 20% since 2000.

While oil and gas jobs have significantly better compensation and training provisions than most sectors in the economy, these jobs are also somewhat more precarious and have higher health and safety risks. Union density is higher but is also falling at a more rapid rate than in oth-er industries.8 Finally, automation is projected to threaten between 33%-53% of Canadian oil and gas jobs by 2040.

Read the text (PDF).

Relief Programs for Displaced Oil and Gas Workers: Elements of an Equitable Transition for California’s Fossil Fuel Workers

By Robert Pollin, Jeannette Wicks-Lim, Shouvik Chakraborty, Caitlin Kline and Gregor Semieniuk - Political Economy Research Institute, August 2021

California’s oil and gas jobs currently offer significant compensation and benefits, providing workers in these jobs with security for themselves and their families. As California moves to meet its existing climate commitments—to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030 and to reach net zero emissions by 2045—the oil and gas industries will contract, and it is critical to invest in a strong, ongoing relief program to take care of displaced workers, their families and their communities.

An excerpt and fact sheet from A Program For Economic Recovery And Clean Energy Transition In California, by Robert Pollin, Jeannette Wicks-Lim, Shouvik Chakraborty, Caitlin Kline and Gregor Semieniuk.

Read the text (PDF).

LNS Executive Director Testifies Before House Committee on Oversight and Reform, Expresses Support of the Justice40 Initiative

By Judy Asman - Labor Network for Sustainability, July 21, 2021

‘The Goal of Creating Good Jobs and Protecting Our Environment Are Not Incompatible,’ Recommends Ways to Protect Workers Amid a Shift to a Green Economy.

On Wednesday morning, July 21, 2021, Executive Director of the Labor Network for Sustainability, Michael Leon Guerrero, joined fellow environmental justice leaders and activists to testify in support of the Biden-Harris Justice40 Initiative at a hearing with the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. Led by Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, the Committee highlighted its role in advancing the Justice40 Initiative–including ensuring a whole-of-government response, strong federal data collection, and a voice for state and local partners–to direct 40 percent of the benefits of climate and clean infrastructure investments to the hardest hit communities.

An environmental justice organizer for much of his career, Leon Guerrero opened by saying, “I will speak to you today to affirm, as the title of this hearing suggests, that Environmental Justice is central to the American Jobs Plan, and in particular to affirm the importance of addressing the needs of workers and communities as we transition to a climate safe economy. Let me first say that the goals of creating good jobs and protecting our environment are not incompatible.”

A national network of unions and climate and environmental justice organizations working for urgent, science-based climate action, the Labor Network for Sustainability (LNS) strives daily to bridge the labor and climate movements to “secure an ecologically sustainable and economically just future where everyone can make a living on a living planet.”

“We commend President Biden […] for rooting his climate protection strategy in policies that foster job creation, the rights of workers to organize unions, and the ability of communities to achieve environmental justice,” Leon Guerrero added. “We support the Justice 40 Initiative as a strategy to assure that historically marginalized communities of color have equal access to the badly needed investments to rebuild our economy and infrastructure. We also want to express our support for the recommendations of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council.”

The Justice40 Initiative is part of the American Jobs Plan and the Build Back Better Agenda, which Leon Guerrero said LNS feels–along with the Protecting the Right to Organize Act (PRO Act), and Justice 40–“set us on the path we need to address the multiple crises we face in health disparities, economic injustice and climate disruption.”

“These are troubling and turbulent times that require bold and creative action […] we are concerned that currently available details on the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the budget reconciliation package so far fall severely short of what is needed to address these crises,” said Leon Guerrero.

He went on to cite “Workers and Communities in Transition: A Report of the Just Transition Listening Project,” released by LNS earlier this year and which analyzes in-depth interviews of more than 100 workers and community leaders in 26 states “who work in a variety of industries including oil refining, auto and textile manufacturing, healthcare, education and agriculture.”

Job Creation for a Clean Jumpstart

By Amanda Novello - Data for Progress, July 2021

Government stimulus is sorely needed: more than a year into the pandemic recession, nearly 10 percent of Black workers are unemployed, and over 6 percent of all workers are unemployed. There are still more than 7 million fewer jobs than there were last June, and nearly 40% of all unemployed workers are long-term unemployed. A majority of those out of work have no college degree. In addition, there are 5 million fewer people in the labor force than pre-pandemic, including 3 million women who left the labor force since last February, and 2 million men.

Decarbonizing the economy in tandem with a full, job centered green recovery, will require many different plans to be executed at all levels of government and society. That’s why, this March, Data for Progress and Evergreen Action released the Clean Jumpstart 2021 report that offers 39 policy priorities for how to carry out our existing commitments, while increasing ambition and creating good jobs that Americans desperately need, in communities that need them most. All components of this plan are popular with likely voters. The Clean Jumpstart 2021 plan represents how a bold climate investment package, like the American Jobs Plan, could tackle the climate crisis and build a clean energy economy.

The Clean Jumpstart 2021 plan would invest a total of $2.3 trillion over four years. Some investments would create jobs more or less immediately, while others will take longer to realize full job-creation effects. Therefore, in this memo, we estimate that the plan would create an average of 2.7 million jobs annually for the first five years. But the job benefits of the plan don’t end there. The policies in Clean Jumpstart would also create up to 960,000 jobs annually for five years following (year 6-10 after investments begin). Approximately 40 percent of all jobs created would be “direct” jobs, or employment working directly toward these policy goals, and the rest would be due to additional work generated along supply chains and in communities due to the multiplied impacts of increased demand.

Read the text (PDF).

A framework of six essential policies for the U.S. to THRIVE

By Elizabeth Perry - Work and Climate Change Report, June 3, 2021

A new report by Jeremy Brecher of the Labor Network for Sustainability (LNS) was released in May. Making “Build Back Better” Better: Aligning Climate, Jobs, and Justice is a cast as a “living document” to provide a framework for discussion by the labour and environmental movements. Common Dreams summarizes it here. Brecher begins by identifying the range of climate-related policy proposals in the U.S.: “There are many valuable plans that have been proposed in addition to Build Back Better. The original Green New Deal resolution sponsored by Sen. Ed Markey and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez; the THRIVE (Transform, Heal, and Renew by Investing in a Vibrant Economy) Agenda ; the Evergreen Action Plan; the Sierra Club’s “How to Build Back Better” economic renewal plan; the AFL-CIO’s “Energy Transitions”proposals; the BlueGreen Alliance’s “Solidarity for Climate Action,” and a variety of others. All offer contributions for overall vision and for policy details.” 

The contribution of this report from LNS is to frame these policy proposals around “six essential elements” : • Managed decline of fossil fuel burning • Full-spectrum job creation • Fair access to good jobs • Labor rights and standards • Urgent and effective climate protection • No worker or community left behind. The new report links to many of the previous LNS reports which have discussed these elements in more detail.

Labor Network for Sustainability has endorsed the THRIVE Agenda, with its strong emphasis on climate justice. At the end of April, The THRIVE Act was introduced in the U.S. Congress, spearheaded by Representative Debbie Dingell of Michigan and Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts, and supported by progressive Democrats, environmentalists, and unions. The Rolling Stone summarized the provisions here , stating: “Bold” may be an understatement. While President Biden’s proposed infrastructure plan calls for spending $2 trillion over the next 10 years, the THRIVE Act green-lights the investment of $1 trillion annually. The money would go toward creating an estimated 15 million “family-sustaining” union jobs, rebuilding the nation’s physical and social infrastructure, and cutting carbon emissions in half by 2030.”

The Green New Deal Network has compiled extensive documentation of the economic studies behind the THRIVE Agenda here , based heavily on the work of the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI), led by Robert Pollin.

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