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My New Article Puts Labour Law to Work on Climate Change

We know that climate change will affect labour markets, but we have little to no policy plans to deal with those changes.  Part of the challenge is that experts on Hazelwood-IMG_0401-no-closure-without-just-transition-600h-200x300climate no little about labour policy, and labour policy (including labour lawyers) have so far participated little in discussions about climate change.  In particular, labour law scholars have mostly ignored climate change.  This is not surprising.  Labour law scholars and environmental law scholars rarely interact.

In my new article, which you can download here, soon to be published in the peer reviewed Canadian Journal of Environmental Law and Practice, explores the intersection of labour and environmental law around the subject of climate change.  It theorizes a new legal field called Just Transitions Law, and considers the boundaries of that field and how it would draw from insights of labour law, environmental law, and environmental justice to help guide policy makers towards a set of policies that could encourages a transition away from high carbon industries towards a greener economy while also protecting the need for good jobs and protections for workers displaced through the transition.  Here is the abstract:

Climate change will dramatically affect labour markets, but labour law scholars have mostly ignored it. Environmental law scholars are concerned with climate change, but they lack expertise in the complexities of regulating the labour relationship. Neither legal field is equipped to deal adequately with the challenge of transitioning to a lower carbon economy and the effects of that transition on labour markets, employers, and workers. This essay considers whether a legal field organized around the concept of a ‘just transition’ to a lower carbon economy could bring together environmental law, labour law, and environment justice scholars in interesting and valuable ways. “Just transitions” is a concept originally developed by the North American labour movement, which has since been endorsed by important global institutions including the International Labour Organization, the UNFCCC, and the U.N. Environmental Program. Although ‘just transitions’ has received considerable policy attention, it has been under-explored by legal scholars. This paper marks an early contribution to this challenge. It explores the factual and normative boundaries of a legal field called Just Transitions Law and considers whether such a field would offer any new, valuable insights into the challenge of regulating a response to climate change.

Check out the paper if you are interested in the subject.

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