Just and Sustainable Transition
The world has seen many transitions in the past, from automation to the decline or relocation of entire industries. Unfortunately, some governments, businesses, workers, and communities have a tendency to protect the status quo, in the hope of saving jobs and livelihoods.
Past transitions, however, have shown that prolonging the lifetime of declining industries often leads to subsidies, higher costs for worker retraining and unemployment, health and environmental costs, and missed opportunities for the diversification of an economy.
The good news is that many countries are already transitioning to low-carbon energy, and this transition is creating jobs. In the United States, nearly 335,000 people work in the solar industry and more than 111,000 work in the wind industry, compared to 211,000 working in coal mining or other fossil-fuel extraction.
Early action toward a just transition can minimize the negative impacts and maximize positive opportunities. The Paris Agreement on climate change emphasizes the principal of a just transition, which is a process based on dialogue and a shared agenda among workers, industry, and government that needs to be negotiated and implemented in its geographical, political, cultural, and social context.
This means that those most vulnerable to the change -- low-income, disadvantaged, and under-represented groups of people -- will be protected by ensuring equitable treatment. Such a just transition is essential to produce the broad and sustainable political consensus necessary to make climate-protection policy work.
Green New Deal
In February 2019, U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY), and Senator Edward Markey (MA), introduced the Green New Deal (GND) resolution in Congress. The GND includes seven goals:
Shift 100% of national power generation to renewable sources.
Build a national energy-efficient "smart" grid.
Upgrade all buildings to become energy efficient.
Decarbonize manufacturing and agricultural industries.
Decarbonize, repair, and upgrade the nation's infrastructure, especially transportation.
Fund massive investment in the drawdown and capture of greenhouse gases.
Adopting these goals would make "green" technology, industry, expertise, products, and services a major U.S. export. As a result, America could become an international leader in helping other countries transition to completely carbon-neutral economies.
A fundamental proposition of climate justice is that those who are least responsible for energy production and climate change suffer the gravest consequences. Climate justice insists on a shift from a discourse on greenhouse gases and melting ice caps to a civil-rights movement among the people and communities most vulnerable to climate impacts.
Accelerating climate justice is woven throughout the Green New Deal. The plan addresses issues that might not seem directly related to climate change: It calls for a job-guarantee program to be included in any GND legislation. It also calls for universal health care and basic income programs, as well as labor-union involvement.
The GND also acknowledges that climate change, and existing methods of generating and deploying energy disproportionately harms low-income people and communities of color. It says any GND legislation must account for the disparities.
Climate justice frames climate change, energy generation, and distribution as ethical and political issues, rather than purely environmental or physical in nature
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) finds that low-income individuals and their communities are more exposed to environmental hazards and pollution. They have fewer resources to cope with rising temperatures, and it takes longer for them to rebuild after natural disasters.
Low-income communities also have less political power and less access to information and medical care, making it harder to prepare for and respond to the impacts of climate change. To correct these disparities and ensure an equitable transition to clean, renewable energy, low-income and other disadvantaged groups must be part of the planning and policymaking process for addressing climate change.
350 Central Mass fully supports climate justice for all. Join us in this struggle!