Research Handbooks in International Law series
Edited by Adelle Blackett and Anne Trebilcock
Chapter 38: A transnational law of just transitions for climate change and labour
Among the institutions that will be most affected by climate change are work and employment. The potential impacts on labour markets are a major obstacle in the progress towards the sorts of legislative responses most experts agree are necessary to save the planet. However, even though labour law is the discipline that studies the intersection between law and labour markets, its scholars have been mostly absent from climate change discussions. This should change. A legal field organized around the concept of a ‘just transition’ offers a promising portal to bring labour law into the room. Just Transitions Law could provide the organizational architecture for a rich, new legal field that brings together labour law, environmental law, and environmental justice, among other legal fields, in ways that produce interesting new insights into the challenge of governing work in a warming world. A legal model to address climate change should promote public voice, and recognize the many public and private actors already engaged in dialogue, contestation, and problem solving around climate mitigation and adaptation. It should include a theory of justice that recognizes that there will be costs and benefits to societies associated with climate change, which should be distributed in an equitable manner within and across borders. And climate change demands a regulatory solution that overcomes market failures and well-known collective action problems associated with environmental degradation. Few legal fields know more about harnessing collective voice and power in pursuit of social and economic justice than does labour law.
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