Let’s begin with a simple concept: a just transition. It’s a shift to a climate-resilient, fossil-fuel-free society in which we place the needs of the working-class community at the forefront. It’s not just about decommissioning mines and sewing fields of solar panels, it’s about ensuring that within this transition, no worker is left without a job, or without the skills to find stable employment.
Green jobs should fit snugly within the framework of a just transition. It is important to note that a ‘green job’ applies to any type of employment that does not actively, or indirectly, fuel climate change. Your teachers have green jobs. Nurses, bus drivers, bartenders, and tourguides all have green jobs. These services are needed to help communities affected by climate change, and thus the elusive ‘green job’ title applies.
So, what does a just transition demand of green jobs?
There’s a reason why Australians who work in mines are paid so exorbitantly; the job is danger-ous. It exposes you to toxins, and takes you away from family for long periods of time. Unless we actively fight for workers’ rights, green jobs of the future could easily become exploitative. Earlier this year, 230 casual staff working on a solar project in Wandoan, Queensland were fired via text message.
Was it a green job? Yes.
Did they have job security? Absolutely the fuck not.
The envisioned ‘green jobs’ need to be secure, safe, and long lasting. They need to be in unionised workplaces, and resilient to the threat of auto- mation and casualisation. This means that workers will have power over their situation, and are not just cogs in the means of production.
Climate change is making everyone’s life more challenging, and will continue to do so. But it’s the communities and workers on the front line who feel its effects the strongest. In the summer of 2019, fires raged across Australia, and over 150,000 volunteer firefighters across the nation fought on the blazing battleground. They worked day and night in unbearable temperatures, undercompen- sated and understaffed. Many fire-fighting units are under-resourced, and health risks such as lung damage are widespread. Volunteer Firefighters give their time with no guarantee that their employers would be sympathetic to them taking compensation for their efforts.
They should be more than just the idolised heroes of our nation — firies should be recognised as workers with green jobs who deserve job security, protection, and fair compensation.
Who do we blame…? The government. Again.
Jobs in regional communities are few and far between. It is illogical to demand that a worker chooses unemployment over a job in the fossil fuel industry. As such, please don’t blame your coal-miner uncle for climate change! Don’t think bad of him if he happens to be an environmental activist too. These positions are not mutually exclusive.
Instead of blaming your dear uncle, throw all your shade at the corporations profiting off the exploitation of their workers and the land. Blame companies — such as mining giant Adani and gas-overlord Santos — who operate on a capitalist model of greed and exploitation, and are the common enemy of environmental activists and workers alike. These companies and systems capit- alise on the extraction economy and force workers into unsafe, unhealthy, and polluting industries.
Proving that we are not just government-hating lefties with no actual goals!
For a just transition — abundant with stable, unionised green jobs — we must, as a nation, invest in public renewable systems and stop all funding for new fossil fuel projects. It’s obvious, honestly. We need to stop putting public money into the pockets of mining CEOs and funding a ‘gas lead recovery’ that’ll give fossil fuels a new boost of life in this nation. Instead, how about we provide proper funding to essential workers and establish a publicly owned, renewable energy grid.
This already-existing social system has been pio-neered by democratic Scandinavian countries. The idea is that recovery from an economic crisis (such as COVID-19) does not have to come at the expense of the climate and our society. Australia should emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic with plans to invest in public renewable energy programs, public transport, health, and education. This will both sustain green jobs, while setting us on the path to economic and diplomatic reward, as we will not be left behind in the worldwide advancement of renewable technologies, and will become respected in the global coalition for climate action.
Getting overwhelmed with corrupt political arguments? Also, yes...