September 22, 2014

US unions join the climate fight

An increasing number of green jobs may account for a rise in union support for environmental policies.

Over 10,000 union members took part in New York’s People’s Climate March on Sunday, September 21, to call for the world to tackle climate change.

Unions have historically opposed national measures or campaigns to cut emissions, due to the negative effects these can have on industrial employment and job growth. A recent example is the strong union support for the construction of the Keystone Pipeline, which is strongly opposed by environmentalists.

Unions do play a fundamental role in improving working conditions, implementing wage rises, and reducing wage inequality. However, Alex Bryson notes that a sole focus on employee terms can have certain detrimental effects on overall firm productivity and employment growth.

To mitigate potential job loss, Olivier Deschenes suggests that green energy policies should accompany job training and labor market reintegration programs for workers displaced by new regulations.

Nonetheless, Nico Pestel’s evaluation of how green energy policies affect labor markets reveals an overall rise in net employment. Improving environmental quality can be seen to boost employee health and productivity, whilst a shift towards renewable energy sources has created more jobs in these sectors.

Union presence at last weekend’s climate march could reflect more widespread recognition of these benefits, which may result in greater support for these growing industries.

Read more here.

Related articles:
Employment effects of green energy policies, by
Nico Pestel
Environmental regulations and labor markets, by Olivier Deschenes
Union wage effects, by Alex Bryson