Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

And the Unjust Transition Award Goes to ...

Climate

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

Pexels

By Brian J. Love and Julie Rieland

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the U.S. recycling industry. Waste sources, quantities and destinations are all in flux, and shutdowns have devastated an industry that was already struggling.

Read More Show Less
Pixabay

By Kris Gunnars, BSc

Unhealthy foods play a primary role in many people gaining weight and developing chronic health conditions, more now than ever before.

Read More Show Less
A man pushes his mother in a wheelchair down Ocean Drive in South Beach, Miami on May 19, 2020, amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. reported more than 55,000 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, in a sign that the outbreak is not letting up as the Fourth of July weekend kicks off.

Read More Show Less
To better understand how people influence the overall health of dolphins, Oklahoma State University's Unmanned Systems Research Institute is developing a drone to collect samples from the spray that comes from their blowholes. Ken Y. / CC by 2.0

By Jason Bruck

Human actions have taken a steep toll on whales and dolphins. Some studies estimate that small whale abundance, which includes dolphins, has fallen 87% since 1980 and thousands of whales die from rope entanglement annually. But humans also cause less obvious harm. Researchers have found changes in the stress levels, reproductive health and respiratory health of these animals, but this valuable data is extremely hard to collect.

Read More Show Less

Sunscreen pollution is accelerating the demise of coral reefs globally by causing permanent DNA damage to coral. gonzalo martinez / iStock / Getty Images Plus

On July 29, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law a controversial bill prohibiting local governments from banning certain types of sunscreens.

Read More Show Less
Oat milk is popping up at coffee shops and grocery stores alike, quickly becoming one of the trendiest plant-based milks. jacqueline / CC by 2.0

By Kelli McGrane

Oat milk is popping up at coffee shops and grocery stores alike, quickly becoming one of the trendiest plant-based milks.

Read More Show Less

Trending


"Emissions from pyrotechnic displays are composed of numerous organic compounds as well as metals," a new study reports. Nodar Chernishev / EyeEm / Getty Images

Fireworks have taken a lot of heat recently. In South Dakota, fire experts have said President Trump's plan to hold a fireworks show is dangerous and public health experts have criticized the lack of plans to enforce mask wearing or social distancing. Now, a new study shows that shooting off fireworks at home may expose you and your family to dangerous levels of lead, copper and other toxins.

Read More Show Less