Save the Climate by Improving Jobs – Scientific American

by | Jul 6, 2022 | Jobs

The most recent reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change experts have made two things clear: One, any hope of avoiding catastrophic climate change requires dramatically reducing the use of fossil fuels. And two, doing this is a political challenge, not a scientific one. Technologies that can reduce emissions exist now; what is absent is the political will to do so. The deep political opposition to reducing fossil-fuel reliance is the direct result of decades of efforts by the fuel industry to sow climate denial, feed misinformation to the public, influence elected officials and “greenwash” its efforts.

But opposition to an energy transition also comes from workers in the fossil-fuel economy and communities that depend on it. They realize that moving away from such fuel use could end their jobs and remove the industry base that pays for crucial local needs such as public education. If society can understand and mitigate these consequences, a strategy called a “just transition” by labor researchers, it can reduce worker opposition to change while also providing needed support to workers and regions that have relied on fossil-fuel dollars.

The idea of supporting workers during periods of transition is not new. The late labor leader Tony Mazzocchi, a top official of the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers International Union who campaigned against rampant use of hazardous substances in the 1970s, called for a “Superfund for workers” to support employees in declining industries. Along with environmental justice leaders, Mazzocchi argued …

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