A report from Pete Cannell on a recent ScotE3 workshop.
Back in June I facilitated a ScotE3 workshop on the Monday evening of the Extinction Rebellion Holyrood Rebel Camp. The workshop was titled ‘Climate jobs, just transition and building a movement with social justice at its heart’.
Around 30 of us squashed together under a gazebo on a bright but chilly summer’s evening. There was an excellent discussion looking critically at what we mean by Just Transition and how we can make social justice more than just a distant aspiration. The rest of this post is an attempt to capture some of the content of the workshop.
I framed the discussion by explaining the origins of ScotE3 as a collective of rank and file trade unionists and climate activists in Scotland looking to develop the movement for a just transition. I explained that while ‘just transition’ is a contested term, ScotE3 has taken inspiration from several sources; initially from the campaign for a million climate jobs, from the grassroots campaigns in working class and indigenous communities in the US and from the Lucas plan campaigners; more recently from the BiFab workers, the school student strikes and the urgency injected by XR. We see climate jobs, social justice and grass roots democracy as the key to just transition and also as central to building the social movement we require to avoid catastrophic climate change.
In the group we discussed the difference between ‘climate jobs’ and ‘green jobs’. Climate jobs are jobs that lead directly to cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. So for example, workers building and maintaining offshore wind farms replace power stations that burn coal, oil or gas; bus drivers reduce the amount of oil burnt in cars.
We also discussed what is meant by just transition. It can be a slippery concept because governments, unions and climate activists all use it. I argued that its value comes from the way it has been used by working class climate rebels who have made it much more than just a vague aspiration. So to be useful just transition and social justice need to inform the demands we make, the priorities we organise for and the nature of the social movement we build. It is about protecting the individuals and communities whose livelihoods currently depend on the carbon economy. But it’s not just a conservative demand; it’s also about ensuring that the new sustainable economy is egalitarian, democratic and reflects the diversity of Scotland in the twenty first century.
Thanks to all the participants in the workshop for their contributions and questions.
Image – Pete Cannell Flickr CC0