ILR School

Climate Jobs Institute

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The Climate Jobs Institute at Cornell University’s ILR School is guiding the nation’s transition to a strong, equitable, and resilient clean energy economy that tackles the climate crisis, creates high-quality jobs, confronts race and gender inequality and builds a diverse, inclusive workforce. Through cutting-edge policy research, deep relationships with on-the-ground partners, and innovative training and education programs, the Institute provides the information that policymakers, the labor and environmental movements, industry leaders and others need to navigate this historic transition to a zero-carbon economy.


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 10 of 11
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    Exploring the Conditions of the New York Solar Workforce
    Hoek Spaans, Avalon; Morley, Jillian (Cornell University, ILR School, Climate Jobs Institute, 2024)
    [Excerpt] To address the impending climate crisis, reduce global emissions, and meet the demands of decarbonization, solar energy must rapidly grow in the next two decades. The United States is projected to need 1,118 gigawatts (GW) of solar energy by 2050 under a high-electricity demand scenario (Gagnon et al., 2024; National Renewable Energy Laboratory, 2024), with over 60 GW to be installed in NYS alone (New York State Climate Action Council, 2022). In the past decade, NYS has increased its solar installations by over 2,000%; yet by the end of 2023, only 5.56 GW of solar capacity had been installed in the state (New York Independent System Operator, 2014; New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, 2024a; Solar Energy Industries Association, 2024) which may be due to the infancy of the industry. With solar installations critical growth in New York, and the United States as a whole, comes the question: will these construction projects create the high-quality jobs with family-sustaining wages American communities need?
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    Building the Clean Energy Commonwealth: A Climate Jobs Roadmap for Massachusetts
    Hoek Spaans, Avalon; Skinner, Lara; Raman, Anita; Moskowitz, Hunter; Packman, Iris; Shetler, Melissa; Harper, Ben; Lamm, Nathan; Morley, Jillian (Cornell University, ILR School, Climate Jobs Institute, 2024)
    [Excerpt] As the climate crisis worsens and the federal government adds approximately $500 billion to clean energy investments in the United States, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is facing historic opportunities: to address climate change; protect and create high-quality jobs; confront race and gender inequality; and build a robust, equitable clean energy economy that benefits all.
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    Building an Equitable, Diverse, & Unionized Clean Energy Economy: What We Can Learn from Apprenticeship Readiness
    Cunningham, Zach; Shetler, Melissa (Cornell University, ILR School, Climate Jobs Institute, 2023)
    [Excerpt] With this report, the CJI addresses another core aspect of tackling the dual crises of climate change and inequality: ensuring that frontline, historically underserved communities have expansive, effective pathways into high-quality union clean energy careers. The Inflation Reduction Act and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act have brought increased attention to two important clean energy workforce questions. First, does the U.S. have enough trained workers to meet the demands of the clean energy economy? And second, how do we ensure that the clean energy workforce is diverse and inclusive? This report responds to both of these questions by showing that there are model programs across the U.S. that create pathways for underserved communities into apprenticeship readiness, union apprenticeship programs, and ultimately, good union careers. This study, as well as our many years of experience in the field, have taught us that there is no simple or easy solution to creating or scaling successful pathways. These pathways exist in an ecosystem of essential and interdependent actors that must be focused on the common goal of building a diverse, equitable and unionized clean energy workforce. Key actors and components include: union-led climate coalitions advocating for bold, equitable climate action; policymakers implementing ambitious, jobs-led climate policy; strong labor and equity standards that ensure clean energy jobs are good union jobs; high-quality union apprenticeship programs that pay apprentices well and make sure that the clean energy workforce is highly-skilled and well-trained; trusting partnerships between labor unions, environmental justice organizations, community groups, employers, MWBE contractors, government, and academic institutions; and the focus of this report, high-quality apprenticeship readiness programs that provide participants with the support they need to successfully enter union apprenticeship.
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    Washington Climate Jobs Roadmap
    Skinner, Lara; Hoek Spaans, Avalon; Moskowitz, Hunter; Lamm, Nathan; Harper, Ben; Raman, Anita (Cornell University, ILR School, Climate Jobs Institute, 2023-07)
    [Excerpt] Just as Washington State has led on climate in the past, the Evergreen State can chart a new path forward that merges WA’s climate, jobs, and equity goals. Such work calls for initiatives that deliver the greatest emission reduction, the most high-quality jobs, and a fair and inclusive economy. The recommendations in this report are designed to meet these aims. The Climate Jobs program described herein demonstrates how Washington State can pursue climate programs that are ambitious, retain and create good jobs for residents, and help build an equitable and inclusive clean energy economy and workforce.
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    Building a Just Transition for a Resilient Future: A Climate Jobs Program for Rhode Island
    Skinner, Lara; Cha, J. Mijin; Spaans, Avalon Hoek; Moskowitz, Hunter; Raman, Anita (Cornell University, ILR School, Climate Jobs Institute, 2022-01)
    [Excerpt] The following report examines the climate crisis in Rhode Island and outlines a set of high- impact climate jobs recommendations designed to maximize the state’s actions to do three things: 1) Create thousands of good-paying, high-quality jobs that help reverse inequality, 2) Drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions to avoid the worst impacts of climate change and meet the state’s Act on Climate targets, and 3) Invest in infrastructure that will make Rhode Island communities healthier, more resilient and more equitable.
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    Maine Climate Jobs Report
    Cha, J. Mijin; Moskowitz, Hunter; Phillips, Matt; Skinner, Lara (Cornell University, ILR School, Climate Jobs Institute, 2022-03)
    Three major, intersecting crises currently impact working families in Maine – the COVID-19 global health pandemic and related economic crisis, deepening inequality of income and wealth especially in terms of race, and an accelerating climate crisis that threatens Maine’s jobs, economy, public health and treasured natural environment. These crises both expose and deepen existing inequalities, disproportionately impacting working families, frontline communities of color, and the most vulnerable in our society.
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    Transport Workers and Climate Change: Towards Sustainable, Low-Carbon Mobility
    Climate change is the biggest single challenge ever faced by human civilization. Human economic activity has put so much carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) into the atmosphere that serious global warming is already happening. As a society, we have no choice but to reduce these emissions drastically in order to stand a good chance of avoiding potentially catastrophic changes in our climate. Moreover, emissions from transport are rising faster than emissions from any other sector and in some cases the increase in transport emissions is counteracting emissions reductions achieved in other sectors. Lowering transport emissions presents a series of unique and formidable challenges.
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    Climate for Change: A Complete Climate Jobs Roadmap for New York City
    Skinner, Lara; Raman, Anita; Spaans, Avalon Hoek; Shetler, Melissa; Valdivia, Midori (Climate Jobs Institute, 2022-05)
    With New York City on the frontlines of the climate crisis, it will take bold, ambitious action to combat climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and pollution to the levels that science demands. Fortunately, tackling climate change is also an opportunity to address the other crises New York City is facing: racial discrimination and income inequality and pandemic recovery. As a leading climate-focused city, New York can be innovative and efficient, employing cutting-edge approaches to reverse climate change and inequality while recovering from the pandemic. New York City has the potential to invest in high-impact strategies that deliver deep cuts in emissions and pollution, high-quality union jobs for those who need them the most, and reduced energy costs. This would make New York’s economy stronger, fairer, and more inclusive.
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    Transitioning to a 21st Century Energy System: A Moment of Great Peril, and Possibility, for New York State’s Energy Sector Workers
    Gould, Ross; Johnson, Lois; Redmond, Ellen; Skinner, Lara (Climate Jobs Institute, 2019-07)
    “Just Transition” is a broad concept that encompasses the idea that if society enacts laws that result in lost jobs and closed facilities, those workers and the host communities should be held harmless. Just Transition recognizes that support for environmental policies is conditioned on a fair distribution of the costs and benefits of those policies across the economy. Just Transition is not a prescriptive set of rigid policies to be applied rotely in every situation. Instead there are some generally agreed principles that must be followed in seeking to implement a Just Transition.
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    Combatting Climate Change, Reversing Inequality: A Climate Jobs Program for Texas
    Skinner, Lara R.; Cha, J. Mijin; Moskowitz, Hunter; Phillips, Matt (2021-07)
    [Excerpt] The following report examines the crises of inequality and climate change in Texas and makes a series of “climate jobs” recommendations that can help Texas simultaneously combat climate change, create high-quality jobs, and build more equitable and resilient communities. Considering Texas’s current labor and employment landscape as well as its climate and energy profile, these recommendations identify concrete, jobs-driven strategies that can put Texas on the path to building an equitable, clean energy economy that will tackle the climate crisis and improve working and living conditions for all Texans. Importantly, these recommendations can be tested at the city and county level then scaled to the state levels based on their demonstrated effectiveness.