For too long, we have related to climate change mainly as consumers and voters. We have been responsibilised as meat eaters and airplane travellers, we have been urged to vote for the party with the most green agenda, but we have never been addressed as workers.
The lesson here is straightforward. Building coalitions outside more narrow identity groups is essential to winning elections and later in the halls of legislatures and the offices of chief executives to enacting legislation.
The goal of these jobs will not be [just] the jobs in themselves – or the wages, but rather what these jobs produce. So we decided to put up the idea of jobs where the main objective is to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Instead, we must learn to check our privilege, reach out beyond the usual suspects, and build more diverse coalitions, based on trust, mutual benefit, and common cause. In this way, our Transition Movement will become, more and more, a “just transition.”
The achievements of the Hydro Board rank among the most successful and concentrated single instances of energy transitions. As the Scottish Government prepares to convene its commission on a Just Transition — a project to end reliance on fossil fuels in a socially equitable manner — a clear precedent does exist.
In a Scotland straining towards a two-thirds cut in emissions by 2030, the behemoth of Grangemouth represents by far the greatest single obstacle. In addition to the practical questions surrounding its future, it has become totemic for capital, unions, and the Scottish National Party.
For those looking for answers as to how the Scottish economy can move away, as it must, from hydrocarbons, the harbour seems to offer hope for a just transition. The jobs and trades of tomorrow are jumbled up with the older hydrocarbon sector as it gradually reaches the end of its productive lifespan.
In this first of our new series ‘Just Transition, from Fossil Fuels to Environmental Justice’, we look at the history of energy in Fife, and begin to mine the prospects for a more sustainable future to meet our climate crisis.
Coal generation makes up about a third of the United States’ power supply — a share that has been shrinking thanks to a boom in natural gas, among other factors. As the end of coal looks more and more inevitable, so does the need for “just transitions.” That is, the engineering of fair economic and environmental conditions for communities who have historically relied on fossil fuel extraction.
But what does the transition mean for residents of Essen and the rest of the Ruhr region — the former industrial coal belt — whose lives and livelihoods have been dramatically altered by the reduced demand for coal? The answer to that could hold some useful lessons for those undergoing similar transitions elsewhere.
But while measures to curb emissions and reduce the impacts of rising temperatures will be good for the many, the few who work in industries affected by climate policies risk losing their livelihoods as the economy leans increasingly upon renewable energy.
The people developing a new parallel economy – sometimes by choice, sometimes by necessity, as in Greece and Spain – are neither politicians, CEOs or credentialed experts.