Chapter 28: Greening the job: trade unions, climate change and the political ecology of labour
The green economy, as developed in mainstream economic and political discourse, is constituted by three agencies: nature, capital and labour. While scholars have paid due attention to the first two, little consideration has been given so far to organized labour and to the working class (broadly defined) as those most affected by the process of greening the economy. Trade unions and organized labour, different groups of workers and working-class communities rarely figure in political ecology narratives as key actors in environmental change and politics. Therefore a (historical) political ecology of work could be undertaken in order to gain a more accurate view on the political economy mechanisms of the current ecological crisis in its local to global implications. This chapter aims to contribute to such an undertaking by focusing on the (mainstream) labour movement’s views on climate change and climate action. It will first offer a review of an incipient scholarly conversation on labour’s place in the green economy, suggesting that the eco/feminist economics perspective should be more fully integrated into it. Then it discuss in detail ‘climate jobs’ and ‘Just Transition’ discourses on the part of international labour organizations, focusing on the One Million Climate Jobs campaign in the UK and South Africa.
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