In order to have any chance of reaching internationally agreed, science-based targets to avoid dangerous global warming, transport-related emissions need to stop rising almost immediately—and must fall by several percentage points each year for the next few decades. Public transport can make a vital contribution to achieving this goal, but realizing its potential will require a radical shift in policy.
Championed by unions, the term “Just Transition” has gained a firm foothold in the global policy discourse. But what do unions mean by Just Transition and how can it be achieved? How can worker-focused concerns become integrated into a broad program for social change that can address the need for a socio-ecological transformation?
In this ninth TUED working paper, authors Sean Sweeney and John Treat document the recent claims of the optimistic, “green growth” narrative; examine the evidence frequently used to legitimize and sustain it; and then consider this evidence in context of the broader trends in the global energy system, drawing on a range of major recent data sources. What the paper’s analysis shows is that, unfortunately, the world is not “moving away from fossil fuels”; far from it. The recent “we are winning” optimism is misplaced, misleading, and disarming. It must therefore be rejected, and replaced with a more sober perspective that draws hope and confidence not from a selective and self-deceiving interpretation of the data, but from the rising global movement for climate justice and energy democracy, armed with clear programmatic goals and a firm commitment to achieve them.
In India as elsewhere, the need to transition to a new kind of energy system opens up the opportunity to remake society in a manner that promotes democracy and social justice. But it also creates the risk that the “common sustenance of humanity” will be captured by private interests rather than be deployed for the public good. Which path we go down will depend on the organizational and political strength of working people. In this paper, the authors provide a clear-eyed analysis of the policies that unions and their allies can rally behind in order to ensure a truly just transition.
This paper has been written to help unions representing workers in all sectors get a clear sense of what is presently happening in terms of the health impact of fossil fuel use and what could also happen if present patterns in energy use continue into the future. The data are presented in a way that unions can use to more effectively advocate both for their members and the broader public.