The Just Transition Collaborative (JTC) engages in community partnerships to advance social and environmental justice in the transition from fossil fuels toward a renewable-based economy and in response to a warming climate. We work to support leadership of underrepresented individuals and groups to foster more equitable energy, climate and employment practices and policies, as well as to produce community-relevant research.
Launched in July of 2016, the JTC is led by University of Colorado Boulder faculty, staff and students in environmental and environmental justice studies, environmental communication, public engagement studies, and sociology, and with partnership with the Boulder Latino Task Force and other community-based organizations. We are poised to address the complex challenges of a just energy, climate and cultural transition with a collaborative, interdisciplinary, and engaged approach.
Our current work focuses on the city of Boulder. Boulder is a world leader in renewable energy and emissions reductions programs; yet, the city faces social equity challenges in achieving its goal of 100% renewable electricity by 2030. For example: non-homeowners experience a lack of opportunity to invest in on-home solar, and may bear the brunt of rising utility rates; Boulder rental properties exhibit far lower energy efficiency ratings than other properties, which results in higher energy cost burden for low-income people; and green jobs nationwide suffer from a lack of racial, gender, and economic diversity, with white people and men make up most of the workforce. The JTC is pursuing four initial activities to ensure that Boulder's transition to a renewable energy economy is rooted in justice:
1. Develop and advocate for just transition targets and measurement criteria to include in the city's Climate Commitment Document, to be voted on in December 2016. These include to: (1) ensure energy and resource costs and impacts are not disproportionately experienced, (2) ensure socially just distribution of relevant assets and resources generated by the plan and related programs and policies, (3) generate targeted and socially just economic and employment opportunities and mitigate related losses, and (4) build community capabilities and leadership among underrepresented groups to guide and support an equitable transition.
2. Organize "Just Transition Dialogues" with social justice leaders and underrepresented constituents to inform the needs and possibilities for Boulder's energy and climate transition plan and to build leadership and capabilities. Themes include: facilitating diverse input to the city's Climate Commitment Document and implementation; defining best practices for socially just green businesses; and diversifying green entrepreneurship opportunities, including supporting more diverse applicants for City of Boulder climate change grant program.
3. Conduct relevant research and develop academic publications on Boulder's efforts toward a just transition. We will work to build a network of community partners and relevant experts to define and conduct priority areas of research. Topics may include defining and measuring social justice aspects of green jobs, assessing energy burden and ownership opportunities and constraints in the renewable energy transition, and evaluating efforts to enhance community engagement, leadership and capabilities of underrepresented groups.
4. Identify and share compelling stories of success and struggle in Boulder's transition with audiences that matter to these efforts. We will work with community partners and communications professionals to document inspiring multi-lingual stories, best practices, and challenges facing underrepresented constituents, businesses and workers in the city's efforts toward a just transition.