Category Archives: International Program for Labor, Climate and Environment

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New Labor Forum Highlights: Feburary 19th, 2019

The New Labor Forum has a bi-weekly newsletter on current topics in labor, curated by the some of the most insightful scholars and activists in the labor world today. Check out some highlights from the latest edition below.
An increasing number of Americans now see climate change as an imminent threat caused by humans. Sixty-four percent of voters also believe the U.S. should do more to respond to the crisis. Enter Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of 14th district of New York, the burgeoning Sunrise Movement, and the Congressional Resolution on the Green New Deal, released February 7th. In this installment of the New Labor Forum newsletter we make available to our readers an analysis of the Resolution by Sean Sweeney, NLF columnist and Director of Trade Unions for Energy Democracy. Sweeney examines what have widely been characterized as the Resolution’s far-fetched proposals, and argues that “the magnitude of the climate crisis makes the half-measures and failed ‘market mechanisms’ of the mainstream in fact more unrealistic than the bold plans put forward by the Green New Deal.” We also include a link to the resolution itself, as well as two pertinent articles, one describing successful organizing by the residents of a majority-black community in Detroit to achieve public ownership and community control of utilities, and another article highlighting legislation in Maine to create a consumer-owned utility, with the support of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union. All of this is intended to spur discussion and inform action on the most urgent challenge of this era.

 

Table of Contents

  1. The Green New Deal’s Magical Realism/ Sean Sweeney, New Labor Forum
  2. Resolution on the Green New Deal/ Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, House of Representatives
  3. The Green New Deal Must Put Utilities Under Public Control/ Jackson Koeppel, Johanna Bozuwa and Liz Veazey, In These Times
  4. Consumer-Owned Electric Utility Proposed for Maine; Union Contracts to be Protected/ IBEW Local 1837

Photo credit: Dimitri Rodriguez via flickr (cc-by)

TUED International Conference on Just Transition

By John Treat for TUED

On May 29, 2018, trade union representatives and close allies from more than a dozen countries met in New York City for TUED’s international conference, Towards a Just Transition: International Labor Perspectives on Energy, Climate and Economy.

The conference brought together more than fifty participants, from both the global North and the global South, representing 31 unions as well as 15 environmental, community-based, research and policy allies. Participants came to New York from Australia, Canada, Brazil, India, Italy, Nepal, Philippines, South Korea, South Africa, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United States (including Puerto Rico) and Vietnam. Many of the international participants also joined TUED’s two-day strategic retreat, which took place immediately following the conference. Continue reading TUED International Conference on Just Transition

TRADE UNIONS AND JUST TRANSITION: TUED WORKING PAPER #11

By Sean Sweeney and John Treat

The concept of “Just Transition” has become increasingly in vogue in recent years in international political circles. While commonly ascribed to be “transformative” in potential, like any fashionable term it runs the risk of being emptied of content and coopted by arbiters of the status quo. So what really is Just Transition, and why is it potentially so transformative? This is the question the authors set out to answer in this eleventh working paper published under the auspices of our Trade Unions for Energy Democracy (TUED) project.

In one of its most thorough treatments to date, Sean Sweeney and John Treat, both of the Murphy Institute, not only define the concept of Just Transition but take us through its history and the various polemics that surround it. Starting with its roots in the U.S. labor movement, the authors trace the development of the concept, from being one focused almost exclusively on workers impacted by environmental policies, to becoming much broader in its call for socioecological transformation at the point of not only consumption but also production. Continue reading TRADE UNIONS AND JUST TRANSITION: TUED WORKING PAPER #11

Preparing a Public Pathway to Renewable Energy: TUED Working Paper #10

Why a profit-based approach to renewable energy is failing to deliver the energy transition, and why we urgently need to pursue public alternatives.

By Sean Sweeney and John Treat

Why, in a world awash with “idle capital” and in desperate need for a just energy transition to a renewables-based system, are global investment levels in renewable energy so out of sync with climate targets?

In the previous TUED Working Paper #9, Energy Transition: Are We Winning?, we raised in passing the serious investment deficit in renewable energy, in the context of a broader examination of overall trends with the global energy system and greenhouse gas emissions. In this paper, we have taken on the investment question directly and in detail. Continue reading Preparing a Public Pathway to Renewable Energy: TUED Working Paper #10

TUED Bulletin: UK Election & Our Energy Future

UK Elections: Labour Party Commits to Public Ownership of Energy Utilities, 60% Renewables by 2030

Compiled by Michael O’Neil for TUED

The Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn have released their 2017 manifesto for the June 8th General Election, entitled “For the Many, Not the Few.” The manifesto outlines policies of interest those dedicated to the movements for energy democracy and a just transition away from fossil fuels.

“CREATING AN ECONOMY THAT WORKS FOR ALL”In the section Upgrading Our Economy: Labour’s Industrial Strategy, it states that a Labour Government would ensure that “60 per cent of the UK’s energy comes from zero-carbon or renewable sources by 2030.”

Read more…

TUED unions in UK urge Labour Party to Reclaim Energy and Ensure a Just Transition

This statement was delivered by TUED unions to the Labour Party energy shadow minister Alan Whitehead in the days following the announcement of the general election:

With the announcement of a general election for 8th June, UK trade unions participating in Trade Unions for Energy Democracy  are calling on the Labour Party to include a manifesto commitment to extend public ownership and democratic control to UK energy.

UK TUED unions welcome initial Labour Party proposals for energy transition and a vision for energy democracy based on new forms of public and community ownership, putting climate change and social justice at the heart of industrial strategy. This now needs to form part of a clear manifesto commitment to reclaim energy back to the public sphere. Labour should set out an ambition for new affordable, low carbon energy system that reduces greenhouse gas emissions and pollution, always emphasising the massive opportunities to create secure, skilled unionised jobs for communities across the UK.

Featured photo by Chatham House via flickr (CC-BY)

New Labor Forum Highlights: Feb. 6, 2017

The New Labor Forum has launched a bi-weekly newsletter on current topics in labor, curated by the some of the most insightful scholars and activists in the labor world today. Check out some highlights from the latest edition below.

In the short time since Donald Trump was inaugurated, a lot has happened — with the threat of more to come. Among the many Executive Orders signed last week, Trump acted to reverse Obama’s halt on the Keystone and Dakota Pipelines. While EO’s won’t get the pipelines built on their own, it’s a clear signal that on climate policy, things are quickly heading south.

New Labor Forum Columnist Sean Sweeney has written a post about the evolving relationship between some of the Building Trades, the new Administration, and the fossil fuel industry.

Naomi Klein rounds out the topic by pointing out that much of the policy changes we are likely to see under Trump will be driven by the logic of disaster capitalism – that changes the 1% has long desired and planned for, will be rolled out in response to ‘disasters’. Understanding this dynamic is important, as it will apply not only to energy policy, but to national security, labor rights, and more.

Given the tensions in the labor movement around climate policy, we expect (and hope for) vigorous debate — please be sure to visit our Facebook page and/or the blog to participate.

Table of Contents

  1. Pandering to the Predator: Labor and Energy Under Trump / Sean Sweeney
  2. Get Ready for the First Shocks of Trump’s Disaster Capitalism / Naomi Klein
  3. President Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum – The Corporate Connections / LittleSis

Photo by Joe Brusky via flickr (CC-BY-NC)