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 - 9 of 9
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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.
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    Reversing Inequality, Combatting Climate Change: A Climate Jobs Program for New York State
    Cha, J. Mijin; Skinner, Lara (2017-06-01)
    [Excerpt] Economic inequality in New York is rising. Currently, the state has the second highest level of economic inequality in the country. Unequal job growth across the state and stagnant wages in several sectors are two of the main contributors to rising inequality. While the state overall has seen several years of employment growth, there are stronger employment gains in New York City than in other parts of the state still suffering from job losses and stagnant employment levels. Additionally, in many sectors, such as construction and manufacturing, wages are not increasing at the same pace as inflation, leaving many workers with paychecks that fail to cover basic household costs. At the same time, New York is falling far short of its necessary greenhouse gas pollution reductions. To stop catastrophic climate change, global greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced at least 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050, which would require four times the current annual emissions reduction rate. By 2050, New York State’s emissions must be only a fraction of what they are now to meet the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s targets set to prevent irreversible damage. We are far from that target. In the transportation sector, emissions are actually increasing and energy sector emissions may also be increasing given likely underestimation of methane emissions from natural gas. New York State can take action now to protect New Yorkers from the worst effects of climate change, and do our part in reducing global emissions, while also fighting against growing economic inequality. Extreme weather, such as Hurricanes Irene and Sandy, is predicted to become more the norm, not the exception. These recent extreme weather events highlighted New York’s deep inequality: some could afford to leave the city or move into hotels when their residences flooded while others were left stranded. Adopting a bold and aggressive plan to invest in climate-addressing infrastructure can be an important step towards simultaneously addressing the crises of inequality and climate change head on and position New York as a national leader in charting the path to a low-carbon, equitable economy. The recommendations presented below aim to create good, high-road jobs that provide family- sustaining wages and benefits for communities across the state. These proposals could also result in meaningful emissions reductions and put New York on the path to building an equitable clean-energy economy that can work for all New Yorkers. The authors hope this report helps spark additional research and policy development on how to simultaneously reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reverse inequality by protecting workers and creating good, family-sustaining jobs in new low- carbon sectors. Future research, in particular, could perform a detailed analysis of the cost of job creation strategies in low-carbon sectors, how to finance these strategies, and a cost-benefit analysis that includes the cost of potential job loss and reduced economic activity in high-carbon sectors.