A.3 Just Transition

A Planet of Work Ahead

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The concept of just transition provokes a vision of ensuring a transformation to a low carbon economy that is characterized by the principles of equity and justice. It takes specifically the needs of the momentarily most vulnerable and the people most unequally affected by an energy transition, among others, workers within the fossil fuel industry into account. In this workshop on just transition we want to explore the theoretical and historical foundations of this concept, discuss how an abstract, ambiguous concept can be defined, who defines it and how it is acted upon, as well as share and debate practical applications as they are happening and experienced today. The goal is to understand the importance of trade unions as political actors, discuss challenges that red-green alliances are facing, and explore future collaboration on the way to a socially and ecologically just society.
In the course of this workshop we will first explore the eco-socialist foundations that allow us to uncover the often portrayed dichotomy between jobs and the environment. We will touch upon the concepts of work and wage labour and their ecological implications from a Marxist perspective. While this is only a small part of the workshop, it will be our basis to explore specific contexts and case studies within the labour movement that make demands for social and environmental justice. We will use these examples to show that workers have the skills and knowledge to be the driving force behind a transformation to a low carbon economy, demanding strong environmental regulation, societal change and public awareness on hazardous treatment of humans and the environment.
It is then relevant to define, characterize and contextualize trade unions and their specific local and regional characteristics in terms of power within their system, locate those systems globally and acknowledge the specific global dynamics that workers in the fossil fuel industry are situated in and which have implications for their actions locally.
The following questions we would like to discuss with the participants of the workshop and connect them to their personal experience and knowledge:


  1. Hegemonic narrative: What are the hard questions that policy makers, union officials and industry are answering with business as usual solutions? And what are the problems with this?

  2. Climate jobs: What happens to people who work in fossil fuel intensive industries such as ceramic industry, coal power plants, etc.? Where will they work? What could ecological sound industries of the future look like?

  3. Solidarity: Why are working conditions of workers important?

  4. Globalised nature of industry: How far will local action take us?

  5. Labour movements: What are the barriers to the labour movement engaging in the environmental and climate movement? How can these barriers be overcome?

  6. Environmental movement and climate activism: Why should the environmental movement support workers in their struggles?