Quantcast

And the Unjust Transition Award Goes to ...

Business

This year, I was fortunate to attend the United Nations Conference of Parties in Paris or COP21. COP is an opportunity for nations to come together and create a plan of action to address and solve climate disruption. At the core of the fight against the climate crisis is a concern for protecting communities and working families. If we accelerate toward clean energy without ensuring the people who power this inevitable transition are protected and work in good paying jobs, we’ll just be creating more problems and building more inequality.

Because of this, my conversations at COP mirrored those of many other working class advocates around the world, calling for a fair and just transition to a clean energy economy—a restructuring of the energy economy that includes the voices of working families who live and work with the effects of climate disruption and dangerous pollution.

A 100 percent clean energy world is one where clean energy develops alongside increased equity, where workers rights advance alongside the state of our environment. That’s why at this year’s COP, a coalition of prominent international climate action voices—including the Sierra Club, World Wildlife Federation, Friends of the Earth International and Dr. Robert Bullard (the “Father of Environmental Justice”)—launched the “Unjust Transition Award,” an annual corporate “greenwashing” award given to honor the type of corporate initiatives that fail to connect the dots between climate justice and a clean energy economy.

We awarded the inaugural Unjust Transition Award to Renault-Nissan, a company of which the French government owns a substantial portion and which is also a corporate sponsor of COP. Though Nissan is a key supporter of the UN climate change summit and has provided their Nissan Leaf electric vehicles for use at the COP, they have not shown that they respect workers’ rights and the need for a just transition.

Nissan has taken major positive steps on green transportation that deserve applause. Their investments in electric vehicles have helped open up the sector and driven innovation, but this is not an excuse for leaving workers behind.

This award comes on the heels of the U.S. National Labor Relations Board’s issuance of a formal complaint against Renault-Nissan for labor violations against workers seeking representation by the United Auto Workers (UAW) at their Nissan plant in Canton, Mississippi, where workers manufacture batteries for the Nissan Leaf electric vehicle. Renault-Nissan is resisting demands for union representation by workers at several plants in Mississippi and Tennessee, including the plant in Canton. Renault-Nissan also previously rejected an offer of mediation by the U.S. State Department.

Renault-Nissan’s actions are reprehensible. Since the Canton plant opened, the company has pursued an aggressive campaign to block their employees’ right to unionize. Nissan’s anti-union campaign has included mandatory anti-union meetings, anti-union orientation sessions for new hires, retaliation against union leaders and repeated threats implying that the plant may close if the workers vote for the for representation by UAW.

To make matters worse, the workers of the Canton plant are primarily African American. Renault-Nissan is taking advantage of the long history of corporate and political repression based on race and class in Mississippi, Tennessee and the larger southern U.S.

Renault-Nissan’s position as the fourth largest car company in the world serves as an opportunity to become a corporate leader in the just transition away from outdated fossil fuels and toward clean technology. Sadly, the company is miring itself in the past with their labor practices.

Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn was invited to attend the ceremony and receive the award, but he declined to show. Instead, the award will travel to Mississippi with UAW representatives.

The historic, universal agreement on climate adopted in Paris by 195 nations includes an acknowledgement of the "imperatives of a just transition of the workforce and the creation of decent work and quality jobs" as we move from dirty fuels to clean energy. Clean energy technology that is free of climate pollution is not possible without workers, which is why a clean, renewable energy economy must be a boon for all working families. Without building that political power, we will limit the potential of clean energy and with this award, we hope Renault-Nissan and the world will take notice.

Watch the award ceremony here. Check out our labor and electric vehicle websites for more information on our vision for a just transition to clean energy.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

World Leaders Agree to Historic Global Climate Agreement

VW: ‘We’re Sorry We Got Caught’

Volvo Leaves Mining Association Over Its Lobbying Against Climate Change Policies

10,000+ Took to the Streets in Paris Pledging Escalated Actions in the Fight for Climate Justice

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Pick one of these nine activism styles, and you can start making change. YES! Illustrations by Delphine Lee

By Cathy Brown

Most of us have heard about UN researchers warning that we need to make dramatic changes in the next 12 years to limit our risk of extreme heat, drought, floods and poverty caused by climate change. Report after report about a bleak climate future can leave people in despair.

Read More Show Less
Jamie Grill Photography / Getty Images

Losing weight, improving heart health and decreasing your chances for metabolic diseases like diabetes may be as simple as cutting back on a handful of Oreos or saying no to a side of fries, according to a new study published in the journal The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Golde Wallingford submitted this photo of "Pure Joy" to EcoWatch's first photo contest. Golde Wallingford

EcoWatch is pleased to announce our third photo contest!

Read More Show Less
A boy gives an impromptu speech about him not wanting to die in the next 10 years during the protest on July 15. The Scottish wing of the Extinction Rebellion environmental group of Scotland locked down Glasgow's Trongate for 12 hours in protest of climate change. Stewart Kirby / SOPA Images / LightRocket / Getty Images

It's important to remember that one person can make a difference. From teenagers to world-renowned scientists, individuals are inspiring positive shifts around the world. Maybe you won't become a hard-core activist, but this list of people below can inspire simple ways to kickstart better habits. Here are seven people advocating for a better planet.

Read More Show Less
A group of wind turbines in a field in Banffshire, Northeast Scotland. Universal Images Group / Getty Images

Scotland produced enough power from wind turbines in the first half of 2019, that it could power Scotland twice over. Put another way, it's enough energy to power all of Scotland and most of Northern England, according to the BBC — an impressive step for the United Kingdom, which pledged to be carbon neutral in 30 years.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Beekeeper Jeff Anderson works with members of his family in this photo from 2014. He once employed all of his adult children but can no longer afford to do so. CHRIS JORDAN-BLOCH / EARTHJUSTICE

By Jessica A. Knoblauch

It's been a particularly terrible summer for bees. Recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it is allowing the bee-killing pesticide sulfoxaflor back on the market. And just a few weeks prior, the USDA announced it is suspending data collection for its annual honeybee survey, which tracks honeybee populations across the U.S., providing critical information to farmers and scientists.

Read More Show Less

tommaso79 / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Rachel Licker

As a new mom, I've had to think about heat safety in many new ways since pregnant women and young children are among the most vulnerable to extreme heat.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Kris Gunnars, BSc

It's easy to get confused about which foods are healthy and which aren't.

Read More Show Less