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.
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:
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: