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What is "Just Transition"?

Labor Unions and Green Transitions in the USA: Contestations and Explanations

This paper concludes that unions are fragmented in their approach to climate policy, but it is too simplistic to divide them into two camps as supporters and opponents of more active climate policy.


This paper examines approaches to climate policy among various unions and finds that they are fragmented in their approaches. Despite the tendency to divide unions into two separate camps on climate issues—supporters and opponents of more active climate policy—empirical analysis suggests a greater diversity of views.

The author suggests five distinct categories along a spectrum of support versus opposition, especially in response to the transition away from fossil fuels. He surveys union policies regarding the energy, construction, manufacturing, housing, and transport sectors. The second half of the paper proposes a political economy approach to green transitions, emphasizing the critical need to examine the social forces for and against a green transition, as well as the tactics and strategies that can help advance progress. The author also notes the diversity of U.S. unions, arguing that the lack of corporatism in the United States means that industrial relations and engagement with companies on environmental issues are quite different from those in Europe or other areas.

Just Transition’ – Just What Is It?: An Analysis of Language, Strategies, and Projects

Based on interviews with a variety of stakeholders, this report explains the concept of just transition, including its origins, evolution, usage, perception, and applications.


This report aims to explain the concept of a just transition, tracing the concept from its origins during the planned reconversion to a peacetime economy after World War II to its application in response to environmental protection policies, its spread in the labor and environmental movements, and its recent adoption and evolution in climate justice.

The findings in this report are based on seventeen interviews conducted in 2015 and 2016 with representatives from activist networks, grassroots organizations, organized labor, and environmental groups. These interviews provide insight into how the range of stakeholders use and perceive the term, how these different concepts entail different policy solutions, and the types of relationships that are developing as stakeholders pursue just transitions.

Despite the growth of the concept and language of a just transition, the authors suggest that there are few examples of just transitions in practice. This report provides several, mostly local-level examples of just transitions programs. It concludes with research questions for future dialogues and a call for communities and groups to contribute to a shared vision of how to achieve just transitions.