How To Create Good Jobs at Fair Wages - And Help the Climate

July 7, 2016 by Shanna Edberg

multisolving won't happen by accidentTransitioning away from fossil fuels to renewable energy is a way to both mitigate climate change and create jobs. We are collecting resources to spread the word and help this process benefit as many people as possible. Multisolving won’t happen by accident, and our goal is to make it a more accessible and widespread practice.

We know that there is potential for the transition to clean energy to create jobs, but as in any transition, there is a lot to think about to make sure that people and communities benefit as much as possible. Organizations across the country have been experimenting and researching efforts to provide good jobs at fair wages as we transition to a low-carbon economy. These are some of the lessons they are uncovering:

**Green jobs are not necessarily good jobs. **Even though the process of making our economy greener may create jobs, such as in the clean energy sector, it is not a given that these jobs will provide enough compensation for a worker to live on. Currently, many workers in “green” sectors such as recycling and renewable energy do not receive a living wage or health insurance. (US-2)

To make a green job a good job, unionize it. Promoting collective bargaining and unionization can help correct the above issue and improve worker compensation. The presence of collective bargaining is one of the biggest predictors of a workplace providing a living wage and insurance coverage. (US-2)

Governments have the tools to promote green jobs and to make them good ones. For example, governments can use subsidies and tax credits to encourage construction or retrofitting of energy efficient buildings. Governments can also attach job quality requirements to economic development subsidies to ensure the jobs created with the aid are good ones. (US-2)

Certain policies can help ensure that local communities and disadvantaged groups share the benefits of green economic opportunities. Without care, job creation may exclude local people and marginalized groups. To counteract this, make use of “hire local” provisions and create incentives to source from businesses owned by women and people from underprivileged groups. (US-1)

Community ownership and engagement is key to maximizing the sustainability, affordability, and inclusivity of energy projects. For example, Minnesota requires that energy projects have community support, that anyone whose property is crossed by transmission lines is allowed to invest, that electricity revenue goes to Minnesota owners, and that no one can own more than 15% of a project.  (US-1)

Resources on creating a “just transition” to a low-carbon society that creates good jobs at fair wages:

US Reports
  1. The Just Energy Policies Report from the NAACP
  2. High Road or Low Road: Job Quality in the New Green Economy by Good Jobs First
  3. The Apollo Reports by the BlueGreen Alliance provide road maps and strategies for creating green jobs in several US states as well as the United States at large
  4. Green Recovery: A Program to Create Good Jobs and Start Building a Low-Carbon Economy by the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst
International Reports
  1. Guidelines for a just transition towards environmentally sustainable economies and societies for all from the International Labor Organization
  2. What’s Just Transition? from the International Trade Union Confederation
  3. The Jobs Potential for a Shift towards a Low-Carbon Economy from the OECD
  4. Low Carbon Jobs for Cities from The Work Foundation
  5. Towards a Green Economy: Pathways to Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication by UNEP
  6. Pro-poor, Inclusive Green Growth: Experience and a New Agenda by the Green Economy Coalition
  7. Green Jobs: Towards Decent Work in a Sustainable, Low-Carbon World by UNEP
  8. Inclusive Green Growth: The Pathway to Sustainable Development by the World Bank
  9. A Toolkit of Policy Options to Support Inclusive Green Growth by the African Development Bank, the OECD, the UN and the World Bank

Note that this is not an exhaustive list of publications, nor is it in any particular order. If you would like to add your publication or resource to this list, please contact us at multisolving(at)climateinteractive(dot)org.