The transition to a climate-safe economy will produce millions of new jobs. But it will also require the elimination or transformation of millions of jobs. Approximately four million workers are employed in the fossil fuel energy economy. They and a difficult-to-calculate number of others will be affected by the elimination of fossil fuel burning which is necessary to stop aggravating global warming. While many of them will find work in an expanding clean energy sector, there is currently no guarantee that they will do so. Many may lose their jobs, at least in the short run—and any job is important if it is your job. This job loss will affect not just individual workers, but also whole localities and regions.
The threat of job loss is already being used in the 2020 election campaigns as an argument against the Green New Deal . . .
Putting the burden of transition to a climate-safe economy on a small sector of workers is unjust. It is also likely to cause a backlash among workers and the public against climate protection programs. The threat of job loss is already being used in the 2020 election campaigns as an argument against the Green New Deal (GND) and other climate legislation. A possible remedy is to guarantee workers affected by climate policy a “just transition” that protects them against harmful side effects.1 Such a strategy can counter both the injustice of sacrificing worker well-being to the needs of climate protection and the political consequences of doing so.2