Coal: A Just Transition


Key Resources

Coal: Making a Just Transition

Workers have often felt threatened by measures to protect the environment. Today such fears are likely to be augmented, especially in a time of soaring unemployment, by the large changes necessary to protect the climate from global warming.

Environmentalists have often addressed this challenge by pointing out that a transition to green energy would create far more jobs than it would eliminate. While that may be true, it entirely misses the point. The fact that some people get new jobs provides little solace for the individuals and communities who have lost theirs. Continue Reading…

The Rise of the New Power Co-Op Movement

Breakdown at Copenhagen. Climate legislation stalled. EPA regulation of greenhouse gasses threatened. Is climate protection dead?

Maybe not. Climate protection has gone local. Political leaders may fiddle while the world burns, but grassroots groups around the country are organizing to cut greenhouse gas emissions and build a greener future for their communities. Block by block and using every tool at their disposal, groups are fighting to green schools and workplaces; setting up networks of green job training centers; installing solar water heaters in low income communities; and halting new coal-fired power plants with both political and direct action.

One of the least known but most promising examples of this “localization” of climate politics is the greening of utility co-ops to create affordable and renewable energy, green jobs, and regional green development. These efforts may well represent the beginning of a “New Power Co-Op Movement” that can help jump start the shift to a new green economy. Continue Reading…

Will Workers Be Left Behind in a Green Transition?

As Congress gears up to craft much-needed legislation to protect the earth from global warming, many American workers are wondering what it will mean for their jobs. They may be wondering even more if they hear about the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s proposal for carbon regulation legislation, The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, released March 31. It is 648 pages long. But Section 424 on “Worker Transition” has only three words: “to be supplied.”

Unfortunately, “transition assistance” in the past has often meant little more than a funeral for workers and communities threatened by the side effects of globalization, environmental protection and other public policies. Without a clear program to protect workers from the effects of climate protection, the struggle against global warming can all too easily come to be perceived as a struggle against American workers. Workers have often felt threatened by measures to protect the environment. Today such fears are likely to be augmented, especially in a time of soaring unemployment, by the large changes necessary to protect the planet from global warming. Continue Reading…

GE’s Dirty Green Jobs

In 2005 General Electric launched their “EcoMagination” campaign, a marketing effort built around selling products that help solve environmental problems and create green jobs.

According to GE’s CEO Jeffery Immelt “Our Ecomagination initiative has created tens of thousands of jobs at GE and in our supply chain.” And if the U.S. steps up and takes the lead on climate mitigation, Immelt promises to “create 250,000 green jobs in the economy.”

So what are GE’s new green jobs of the future going to look like? According to one group of GE “green” workers who have filed a racial discrimination lawsuit in Alabama (complaint below), GE’s vision for a green future looks more like a nightmare.

[For more of LNS's work on Coal click here.]

Page last updated on January 25, 2011 at 6:41 am