Just Transition


Transitioning away from an extractive economy gives us the opportunity to build one that is visionary, thriving, and regenerative. This process can be both healing and joyful. As we power down California’s dirty fossil fuel infrastructure, this gives us the opportunity to create thousands of clean energy jobs and an entirely new system that transforms current and historic social injustices. Through this, we can equitably distribute the benefits of the clean energy future so that it works for everyone—not just a select few.


Many organizers have called this transformative framework a “Just Transition.” The concept first emerged from labor unions and environmental justice groups who recognized the need to phase out harmful industries while at the same time provide just pathways for workers in those industries to transition to other high road jobs and careers. Just Transition strategies aim to transition whole communities to build regenerative economies that provide dignified, productive and ecologically sustainable livelihoods; democratic governance and ecological resilience.

“Just Transition is a principle, a process and a practice. The principle of just transition is that a healthy economy and a clean environment can and should co-exist. The process for achieving this vision should be a fair one that should not cost workers or community residents their health, environment, jobs, or economic assets. Any losses should be fairly compensated. And the practice of just transition means that the people who are most affected by pollution — the frontline workers and fenceline communities — should be in the leadership of crafting policy solutions.”
— Just Transition Alliance

A just transition moves our economy off of fossil fuels, and toward clean energy while providing just pathways for workers to transition to high-quality work with integrity. A just transition leaves no worker behind. Workers impacted by climate policies must receive financial assistance, education or training, and a job that provides a family-sustaining wage, healthcare, retirement plans, and a voice on the job.

Source: Movement Generation

A just transition also upholds self determination and expands economic opportunity and democracy. Communities must have the power to shape their economies as producers and consumers, and in our relationships with each other. A shift from corporate production and control means we can transition from exploitative and extractive practices to a reinvestment in frontline communities so that they can be the owners of their own future and resilience. Finally, a just transition is committed to ensuring that people not just survive, but thrive. It is chiefly centered on the development of human potential, creating opportunities for people to learn, grow, and develop to their full capacities and interests. Retiring gas plants in California must be complemented with Just Transition principles in order to transition entire communities justly and equitably. By doing so, we can undo current and historic inequities, strengthen economic opportunity, give communities access to high-wage work with integrity, and take the bold measures needed to reduce the devastating impacts of climate change.


From the Just Transition Alliance:

  1. Workers, community residents, and Indigenous Peoples around the world have a fundamental human right to clean air, water, land, and food in their workplaces, homes and environment.
  2. There is no contradiction among simultaneously creating sustainable development, having a healthy economy and maintaining a clean and safe environment.
  3. Liberalization of environmental, health and labor laws and corporate globalization — know no borders. Therefore, solutions call for local, regional, national, and global solidarity.
  4. The development of fair economic, trade, health and safety and environmental policies must include both the frontline workers and fence-line communities most affected by pollution, ecological damage and economic restructuring.
  5. The costs of achieving sustainable development, a healthy economy and a clean environment should not be borne by current or future victims of environmental and economic injustices and unfair free trade policies.
  6. Workers and community residents have the right to challenge any entity that commits economic and/or environmental injustices. These entities include governments, the military, corporations, international bodies, and mechanisms for securing corporate accountability.

As the Climate Justice Alliance writes, “Transition is inevitable. Justice is not.” In order to protect vulnerable workers and communities, we urge policymakers to take up the following provisions for workers and communities displaced by retiring gas plants in California as we pursue our SB 100 goals of 100% renewable energy:

  • An inclusive and collaborative process that includes affected unions and prioritizes co-beneficial outcomes for frontline communities and all impacted stakeholders.
  • Tangible agreements reached between labor and community such as community benefit agreements and project labor agreements.
  • Proactive economic investment in fossil fuel communities including career pathways, implementing a plan to sustain and grow the tax base, and training in new industries.
  • A Worker Transition Fund to support workers and mitigate any impacts in the transition to a clean energy economy.
  • Training and education programs to equip workers with the skills needed to access family-sustaining jobs and careers in the clean energy economy.
  • Guaranteed pathways to high-quality and meaningful careers with family-sustaining wages, comprehensive benefits, such as retirement benefits, healthcare, access to childcare, and a voice on the job.
  • Policies to ensure equitable access to jobs, revenue, and other benefits from the clean energy economy including local hire provisions particularly in frontline communities.
  • The prioritization of the health and safety of workers, first-responders, and frontline communities.