by Leo Blain

“Good morning, and welcome to what I hope will be a series of dialogues between union leaders and youth climate activists.”

Sharan Burrow’s introduction to the recent panel Unions and Youth Together–A Just Transition for Climate Ambition was music to the ears of those of us in the movement for a Just Transition.

On Wednesday, December 9, 2020, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), for which Burrow is General Secretary, hosted a conversation between youth climate activists and national and international trade union leaders from Australia, Belgium Germany, India, Ireland, the Philippines, and the European Union. In the United States, meaningful collaboration and conversation between trade unions and youth climate formations is a relatively new phenomena. The Unions and Youth Together panel highlighted the immediate need for deep collaboration between the labor movement and the youth climate movement, and affirmed that the goals of labor bodies and youth climate groups are compatible and increasingly identical.

Every panelist agreed with Burrow’s declaration that, “All jobs must be climate-friendly jobs…we have to transition [to a renewable energy economy].”

Determining how that transition could be achieved in the United States is a challenge that we at the Labor Network for Sustainability have been focused on for years. The youth climate activists and labor leaders featured in the Unions and Youth Together panel offered a multitude of ideas on achieving Just Transition that would prioritize both workers and the environment.

You can watch Unions and Youth Together here to hear the panelists thoughts on what we’ll need to achieve a just transition, and how the labor movement and youth climate movement can (and will) collaborate on a deeper level in the future.