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?
If anyone were looking for further evidence that the AFL-CIO remains unprepared to accept the science of climate change, and unwilling to join with the effort being made by all of the major labor federations of the world to address the crisis, the fight over the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) provides only the most recent case in point. Taking direction from the newly minted North American Building Trades Unions (NABTU) and the American Petroleum Institute (API), the federation stood against the Standing Rock Sioux and other tribal nations. Continue reading Standing Rock-Solid with the Frackers→
For a while, it looked like we’d have to choose: labor or climate; jobs or the planet. But with unions like the CWA increasingly calling for action on climate change, some of these once-divergent interests appear to be coming into alignment. As Samantha Page wrote in an article in ThinkProgress last week:
The Climate and Community Protection Act passed the Democrat-led Assembly this week and is now at the Republican-controlled State Senate. NY Renew, a coalition which brought together labor, climate, and social justice groups, helped pass the measure. The bill sets a goal of 50 percent renewable electricity generation by 2030 and focuses on clean energy job creation, particularly in disadvantaged communities.
While unions have traditionally fought for workplace and economic improvements, climate change represents a serious threat to everyone, including union members, [CWA Political and Legislative Director Pete] Sikora said, so an alliance with green groups makes sense.Continue reading Labor and Climate Change: What Comes Next?→
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 this week’s newsletter, we begin by taking a closer look at workers in the energy industries. New Labor Forum columnist Sean Sweeney examines the deep environmental rift in the U.S. labor movement, with the building trades promoting continued coal, oil, and gas extraction and transport workers, nurses, service employees, and a growing number of other unions pushing to end our dependence on fossil fuels. However, Sweeney points to signs that many members and leaders in the Trades appear uncomfortable playing the role of attack dog for fossil fuel interests. Although not imminent, a realignment for “energy democracy” and environmental sustainability may be possible.
Environmental activists and labor leaders around the globe will be keeping a close eye on Canada’s New Democratic Party (NDP) after its recent convention resulted in the introduction of the Leap Manifesto and its “ambitious vision for a nobody’s-backyard approach on pipelines.” We’ve gathered a few articles and perspectives for you to learn more about what’s brewing in Alberta, home to the Tar Sands and location of the NDP convention.
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.
On February 19th, Murphy Prof. Sean Sweeney spoke to a mixed group of 650 participants from labor, faith and climate communities at Broen til framtiden — translated as “Bridge to the Future.” Representing Trade Unions for Economic Democracy, Sweeney was the closing speaker. You can watch his remarks below.
A conversation about workers, communities and social justice