Guiding Principles

Two core guiding principles for The Climate Center are Climate Justice for frontline communities and a Just Transition for workers. These principles inform our Climate-Safe California campaign.

Climate justice for frontline communities

The impacts of climate change are hitting harder and faster than expected, posing grave threats to human health and well-being. Lower-income communities are disproportionately affected by exposure to pollution from our fossil fuel economy through proximity to oil and gas wells, oil refineries, major highways, and other industrial areas. These frontline communities are also more vulnerable to climate impacts such as heatwaves, drought, floods, and food insecurity. 

For many decades the Environmental Justice Movement has been fighting back to stop the injustices of over a century of fossil fuel extraction, transportation, processing, and end-use that disproportionately impact these communities. The Climate Center stands with these advocates and strives to always embed climate justice in our policy work to ensure that everyone can enjoy a healthy, vibrant, and climate-safe future.

A just transition for workers

As we move toward a clean energy economy in California and globally, we must also ensure that it is a just transition and that workers and communities dependent on fossil fuel industries are included. Transforming our energy system will mean re-imagining thousands of jobs in the fossil fuel sector. Retraining and job placement will be vital for California to make the transition in an equitable way. California policymakers must ensure workforce and community security, including proactive approaches to pensions, retraining, housing, and healthcare.

A just transition of labor means training fossil fuel workers and those disproportionately impacted by the fossil fuel industry in clean energy jobs. This ensures that those who rely on the now dying industry will not be left behind and that people directly affected by fossil fuel impacts have a chance to benefit economically from the new system. The fossil fuel industry is firmly entrenched in the economy nationwide and many communities rely on tax revenues from the sale of fossil fuels. The transition away from fossil fuels must incorporate community benefits for schools and other public services to help shore up the coming tax revenue shortfall. This will require planning.

One of the most important aspects of a just transition is to ensure good-paying jobs for fossil fuel workers who are transitioning to clean energy work. Comparatively, fossil fuel industry workers are typically paid more than their clean energy counterparts. By working together, labor unions, and other groups can help secure the rights of workers through the transition.

Access to healthcare will also be critical for workers transitioning away from the fossil fuel industry. These workers often live in frontline communities with air and water pollution and thus, are likely to suffer from more health problems because of exposure to pollution. These residents also tend to be people of color, making the current fossil fuel system an inherently racist one.

The Climate Center is a member of the Labor Network for Sustainability, which lays out criteria for a just transition, including ensuring workers the following:

  • Initial social safety net
  • Workplace transition plan
  • Wage guarantee/insurance
  • Education and job training
  • Priority job placement
  • Pension and benefit support
  • Health care
  • Community investment

Resources for a Just Transition

Webinar – Climate Justice: The California reality and what you can do