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Abstract

With a hostile federal administration, states must take up the fight against climate change. Shortly after the United States withdrew from the Paris Climate Accord, governors from several states announced efforts to meet the targets. This article argues that state level climate actions must consider the economic consequences of climate policy. A shift away from fossil fuels is a fundamentally necessary step in the fight against climate change. However, the economic impact of this shift will be felt most acutely by fossil fuel workers and communities, many of which are already facing economic hardships. Attention and resources must be focused on helping these workers and communities adapt to clean energy in a way that is fair and just, otherwise known as just transition. By failing to address the economic impact of moving away from fossil fuels, climate change will become a driver of inequality. Looking at examples in the United States and Germany, this article presents three elements necessary for a just transition program: dedicated funding streams, strong public sector role, and partnership with non-governmental organizations and unions. This article looks at New York State’s recently announced Clean Climate Careers Initiative and analyzes it through the proposed just transition framework.

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