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New Labor Forum Highlights for May 2020

As the impact of the coronavirus continues to sweep across the country, the long-term failures of capitalism are in stark view. Yet socialism—as both a critique of capitalism and an alternative political and economic system—has until recently remained outside the narrow limits of U.S. electoral politics. Well before the anti-communist fervor of the Cold War, socialist Eugene Victor Debs ran five times for president of the United States, never receiving more than six percent of the vote. Still, this constituted an all-time high for a socialist party candidate. For a hundred years afterward, socialism remained virtually dormant in American politics.

Then the tide began to turn in September 2011. In the wake of the global financial meltdown, Occupy Wall Street protesters massed in Zuccotti Park, and subsequently in other public spaces around the nation and the world, raising a banner for the 99 percent. And then the 2016 Sanders campaign, spurred by the broadening base of anti-corporate sentiment, especially among the young, brought this critique into the realm of American electoral politics. In comparison to the outcome of the Debs candidacy in 1912, the tens of millions who voted for Bernie in the current round of Democratic primaries, show that socialism, or Democratic Socialism, has achieved a measure of influence and reached a number of adherents previously unthinkable. According to a recent Gallup poll, 43 percent of Americans now view “socialism as a good thing for the country”; and fully 61 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 hold a positive view of socialism, with capitalism trailing at 58 percent.

Continue reading New Labor Forum Highlights for May 2020

New Labor Forum Highlights: June 26th, 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.

As summer heats up, even those of us in the northern hemisphere can’t help but ponder the perils of climate change. This crisis should be a top issue for the U.S. labor movement. Yet unified action by organized labor to protect our planet remains constrained by narrow notions of worker self-interest and of solidarity, as well as by public policy that disregards the need for a “just transition” to sustainable energy. Today’s Highlights includes New Labor Forum columnist Sean Sweeney speaking at this year’s People’s Summit in Chicago, arguing for an independent worker’s voice on climate.

We’re also proud to call attention to Climate Solidarity: Workers vs. Warming, a brand new e-book by New Labor Forum Contributing Editor Jeremy Brecher. We have posted a chapter of the book to our website, and the entire book is available for free download. It’s full of insight regarding the practical and ideological obstacles to concerted work within unions to combat climate change, as well as strategic thinking on energizing labor’s climate protection work.

Committed climate activist Naomi Klein’s new book, No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need, notable in part for coming out so quickly after the elections, is reviewed by Hari Kunzru (The Guardian), and we include that here. The book is a clarion call for a politics that accentuates what movements are working towards, rather than what they merely oppose.

Lastly, we’re sharing an article from Wired by Nick Stockton about dogged legal efforts to delay and obstruct the Trump Administration’s environmental efforts.

Table of Contents

  1. Winning Clean Energy & Climate Justice for All / Sean Sweeney, New Labor Forum
  2. Climate Solidarity: Workers vs. Warming / Jeremy Brecher
  3. No Is Not Enough by Naomi Klein (Book Review) / Hari Kunzru, The Guardian  
  4. The Grizzled, Stubborn Lawyers Protecting the Environment From Trump / Nick Stockton, Wired Magazine 

Photo by Jonathan Potts via flickr (CC-BY-NC-ND)

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)

Not Just Transition, But Transformation: the Paris Climate Agreement

via TUED Bulletin 53

By Sean Sweeney

The Paris Climate Agreement came into effect November 4th, 2016. More than 90 countries have ratified the deal, which is enough to turn it into international law.

Unions all over the world are trying to anticipate the agreement’s likely impacts and navigate its provisions to advance the interests of working people. Towards that end, a cross section of international labor will be in Marrakech from November 7th-19th calling for a “just transition strategy,” and to press for more ambitious targets and adequate climate financing for the global South. Continue reading Not Just Transition, But Transformation: the Paris Climate Agreement

Fall Undergraduate Class: Labor and the Climate Crisis

This course is open to interested students, labor and climate activists with at least a High School Diploma or GED. Students can email david.unger@cuny.edu or call 212-642-2011 for more information about registration and fees.

Taught by Lara Skinner, Ph.D.

URB451 Special Topics in Urban Studies – Labor and the Climate Crisis
Wednesdays 6:15 – 9:35 pm @ Cornell Conference Center

How can the labor movement and others best respond to the climate crisis? How can unions work to protect both the environment and good jobs? This class will give students a foundation in the scientific, social, and political aspects of the looming crisis. Students will explore how they can more effectively engage their unions, movement activism, and scholarship in efforts to protect the environment and our future.

Instructor: Lara Skinner, Ph.D., Associate Director of The Worker Institute at Cornell and Co-Chair of the Institute’s Labor Leading on Climate Initiative. Skinner has worked for unions doing campaign research and policy development since 1999. She began her career in labor working with Oregon’s Farmworkers Union (Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste) and as an active member of the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation, Local 3544. Skinner’s current research, writing, and labor education work focuses on increasing the role of unions and working people in addressing the environmental and climate crises and building a powerful, inclusive movement for climate and economic justice.

Registration for the class will open soon! Students must register through CUNYFirst. For more information on registering using CUNYFirst, call Orson Barzola at 212-340-2871. Registration is on a first-come basis, and is limited to 25 students.

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

Facing up to the Failure of Carbon Markets: TUED Working Paper #6

Carbon Markets After Paris: Trading in Trouble

By Sean Sweeney, Coordinator of Trade Unions for Energy Democracy

The 2015 Paris Climate Agreement and the “intended nationally determined contributions” submitted to the UNFCCC enshrines carbon markets and emissions trading schemes (ETSs) as a key mechanism for reducing emissions. But are carbon markets effective?

Since the early 1990s, “putting a price on carbon” has been, perhaps, the primary policy proposal for reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). Proponents see it as a way to gently guide investment away from high carbon sectors and practices toward low carbon ones, thus removing the need for more decisive government interventions. ETSs, in particular, have been favored by businesses and neoliberal policy makers seeking to limit emissions without unduly disrupting business-as-usual and economic growth.

The Lost Decade

In the TUED Working Paper Carbon Markets After Paris: Trading in Trouble, I examined recent reports released by the World Bank and Nicholas Stern’s Global Commission on the Economy and Climate. These reports hail the decade-long progress made by carbon pricing and ETSs in particular–which has “tripled” the proportion of the world’s carbon emissions that now involve polluters paying for the global warming pollution they generate. These reports are intended to convince policy makers and investors that all is more or less going according to plan. Continue reading Facing up to the Failure of Carbon Markets: TUED Working Paper #6