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Labor Leading on Climate Initiative

Union woman worker wearing a hard hat and standing in front of solar panels

The Labor Leading on Climate Initiative advances knowledge, policies, and practices to enhance the role of labor and working people in addressing the environmental and climate crises.

 

Hear from labor leaders, and members, some of whom work on the frontlines of climate change, about the urgency to take on climate change by building a new renewable energy industry powered by good, family-sustaining union jobs.

2021 Climate Jobs Summit

The Second Annual Virtual Climate Jobs Summit took place on September 21, 2021, during Climate Week NYC. The Summit convened climate jobs coalitions, labor leaders, union climate activists, environmental and environmental justice advocates, clean-energy developers, policymakers, scientists, and allies in our shared mission to build an equitable renewable energy economy powered by good union jobs.

With speakers and participants from the labor and climate movements, the Summit presents a unique opportunity to dismantle the false “climate versus jobs” narrative and rally critical support for investment in infrastructure, jobs, and tackling climate change among labor leaders, climate advocates, and progressive thought leaders.

Throughout the Summit, emphasis was made on the urgency of taking action to lift up America’s working families through bold climate investments that create millions of family-sustaining union careers.

 

Watch Livestream on Facebook
Several workers in clean energy
Watch Livestream on Facebook

How New York State Can Tackle Climate Change, Reverse Inequality and Build a Robust, Equitable Clean Energy Economy

New York state has a generational opportunity to “build back better” from the COVID-19 pandemic, reduce inequality through high-quality job creation and tackle the accelerating climate crisis. Meeting this moment will require large, strategic investments in clean energy, with strong labor standards and community benefits.
cover graphic for New York at Work 2021 report
How New York State Can Tackle Climate Change, Reverse Inequality and Build a Robust, Equitable Clean Energy Economy

Four policy recommendations for New York State to beat back inequality and climate change

Cornell’s Labor Leading on Climate research team makes recommendations for NYS policy intervention. It will not be easy to tackle climate change -- but New Yorkers don’t shy away from a fight. Reducing inequality and creating meaningful high-impact Climate Jobs through strategic planning and having strong labor standards.
Policies to beat back
Four policy recommendations for New York State to beat back inequality and climate change

Combatting Climate Change, Reversing Inequality: A Climate Jobs Program for Texas

The Worker Institute’s Labor Leading on Climate launches report that 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.
Tx Report
Combatting Climate Change, Reversing Inequality: A Climate Jobs Program for Texas

Estimating and Understanding Bridgeport Public School Emissions through a Carbon-Free Healthy Schools Tool

Researchers from the Labor Leading on Climate team in collaboration with Connecticut Roundtable on Climate and Jobs recently developed a geospatial dashboard to analyze Bridgeport Public School District environmental health issues while calculating potential emissions. This tool was made to support the Connecticut Carbon-Free Healthy School initiative.
Child doing homework
Estimating and Understanding Bridgeport Public School Emissions through a Carbon-Free Healthy Schools Tool

UN calls IPCC climate report ‘code red for humanity’ -- how an equitable, resilient, climate jobs movement can save us

Cornell’s Labor Leading on Climate research team addresses findings from the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report and highlights the opportunity for workers and their unions to tackle climate change and reverse inequality through high-quality, union job creation.
It Takes Work
UN calls IPCC climate report ‘code red for humanity’ -- how an equitable, resilient, climate jobs movement can save us

Labor Changes the Climate: New Policies Move States Forward

The Worker Institute’s Labor Leading on Climate team surveys various state-level efforts to tackle climate change with high-quality, union job creation.
Labor Changes the Climate
Labor Changes the Climate: New Policies Move States Forward

Education and Training

The Labor Leading on Climate Initiative works with our partners to design and deliver training for union members on climate change and clean energy.

Our training provides affiliate leaders and members with the knowledge, confidence and motivation to participate in key debates and decision-making processes on climate protection and energy policy.  Our objective is to build a robust, equitable clean energy economy both locally and nationwide.

Union construction workers
Educational Resources

In addition to our workshops, we have developed written materials to help you learn about climate change and clean energy, talk with coworkers about these topics, and explore different union-led campaigns to create green, union jobs.

Explore our educational resources
Explore our educational resources
Trainings

This past winter, the Labor Leading on Climate Initiative launched its newly-developed “Climate Jobs and Offshore Wind (OSW)” training in partnership with Climate Jobs NY - a coalition of 2.6 million members. 

We look forward to continuing this work and expanding it into other states, in the upcoming years.

Learn more about our trainings
Union members listening to Offshore Wind training presentation
Learn more about our trainings

Student Engagement

The Worker Institute's Labor Leading on Climate Initiative is committed to engaging Cornell ILR undergraduate and graduate students through our courses, research fellowships, and graduate programs.

Learn more about our work with students.
Wide shot of ILR Building in Ithaca, NY
Learn more about our work with students.

Nathan Lamm

Nathan Lamm, BSILR '22, shares his summer experience with working with the Labor Leading on Climate team.
Nathan Lamm
Nathan Lamm

Alex Foley

Alex Foley, BSILR '22, details his research project on green hydrogen production in the United States as part of a larger project within the Labor Leading on Climate Initiative.
Alex Foley
Alex Foley

Scott Siegel

Scott Siegel, BSILR ‘24, discusses his summer project and how he was able to apply his ILR studies to his project.
Scott Siegel
Scott Siegel

Labor Leading on Climate Team Participates on 350 Brooklyn Labor and Climate Panel

Labor Leading on Climate Associates participated in 350Brooklyn’s panel session, Labor and the Climate Movement: Challenges and Opportunities
350Brooklyn
Labor Leading on Climate Team Participates on 350 Brooklyn Labor and Climate Panel

Skinner Participates at INET’s Just Transition and the Transition to Justice Conference

Lara Skinner, Director of the Worker Institute’s Labor Leading on Climate, participated in INET’s panel session, Retaking the Commons: What Will It Take?
INET LIVE
Skinner Participates at INET’s Just Transition and the Transition to Justice Conference

In the News

See all news stories

How the US labor movement is getting to grips with the climate crisis

The Guardian
In Texas and West Virginia, unions are having tough conversations about the future of fossil fuels. Lara Skinner explains that the way forward includes finding new ways to support workers transitioning from oil and coal to cleaner jobs.
How the US labor movement is getting to grips with the climate crisis

'Everyone Wants a Good Job': The Texas Unions Fighting for a Green New Deal

At the Texas AFL-CIO’s annual convention on July 27th, 121 unions voted in favor of a resolution for a green jobs plan. The proposal was written by the Texas Climate Jobs Project, a project of the state labor federation and Cornell University’s Worker Institute in consultation with 27 unions statewide.
'Everyone Wants a Good Job': The Texas Unions Fighting for a Green New Deal

Why Texas fossil fuel unions signed onto a climate plan

Grist logo
Skinner, Labor Leading on Climate Director, says “there’s been a real focus on the carbon impact of proposals and not enough emphasis on what type of jobs are these activities going to create, what are the quality of these jobs, are they actually going to help reverse inequality.”
Why Texas fossil fuel unions signed onto a climate plan

Our Partner

Watch Lara Skinner discuss her work which helped spark the formation of Climate Jobs New York (CJNY).

Climate Jobs Resource Center Logo

The Worker Institute's Labor Leading on Climate Initiative is the university partner of the Climate Jobs National Resource Center (CJNRC).

The Initiative provides research, education and training programs to unions on climate change and clean energy across multiple U.S. states.

As in New York, this work will help unions proactively and positively engage in climate change and clean energy work and forge a stronger link in the public discourse between the crises of inequality and climate change. 

About the Initiative

Find out more about the Initiative

The Labor Leading on Climate Initiative at the Worker Institute advances knowledge, policies, and practices to enhance the role of labor and working people in addressing the environmental and climate crises.

Labor has an important reframing of this issue: we have two crises, not one. A crisis of climate change and a crisis of inequality and we need solutions that address both. Solutions to the climate crisis cannot exacerbate the crisis of inequality by creating low-wage, low-quality jobs; Addressing climate change needs to reverse inequality by creating high-wage, family and communities sustaining union jobs. The initiative's efforts focus on building a truly sustainable society and economy.

 

Faculty, Staff and Fellows

  • Director, Labor Leading on Climate Initiative

  • Fellow, The Worker Institute
  • Assistant Professor, Urban and Environmental Policy, Occidental College

  • Education and Training Extension Associate

  • Program Administrative Assistant

  • Communication Specialist

  • Research and Policy Development Extension Associate

  • Senior Project Administrator

  • Research and Policy Development Extension Associate