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Climate One

Monday, February 17 at 2:00 pm

What Is A Just Transition?

Our nation’s dependence on fossil fuels has led to climate disruption and inequality. Underserved communities are the ones most harmed by pollution, lack of green space and heat-related illness. Transitioning to clean energy would seem to be the obvious answer. But in the process of trying to right old wrongs, do we risk leaving people behind?

In many communities throughout the country, people depend upon oil and coal-related industries for their livelihoods – even as their neighborhoods are being made toxic by those same corporations. Darryl Molina Sarmiento of Communities for a Better Environment cites southern California as an example.

“If you have over half of the oil drilling sites in Los Angeles concentrated in a low income community of color, there are currently within that situation 300 jobs at risk,” she explains.

“And so this is the perfect opportunity for us to address the issue of just transition… to find the solution for these 300 jobs, in order for us to move away from this harming industry right next to our communities.”

Vien Truong, climate justice advisor for presidential candidate Tom Steyer, agrees.

“We have to make sure that we’re thinking about the jobs and the industries that we’re creating, make sure that they are sustainable and green and not gray, not killing people,” she says. “We have to make sure that we are creating a workforce pipeline to prepare people for those jobs.  And we have to make sure that we’re treating people differently in this transition as well.”

Former California state senator Kevin de León is optimistic that a just transition is possible. And, he adds proudly, California is leading the way.

“To date, we have created 500,000 jobs in the clean energy space,” de León notes. “That is ten times more jobs in the clean energy space in California than there are coal mining jobs in all of America.”

To listen to the audio of “What Is A Just Transition?” on Climate One online, please click HERE.