A Law of Just Transitions?: Putting Labor Law to Work on Climate Change

51 Pages Posted: 26 Oct 2015 Last revised: 19 Apr 2016

David J. Doorey

York University

Date Written: October 26, 2015


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

Keywords: climate change, environmental justice, environmental law, just transition, labor law, legal taxonomy, unions, non-governmental organizations, transnational law

JEL Classification: K10

Suggested Citation

Doorey, David J., A Law of Just Transitions?: Putting Labor Law to Work on Climate Change (October 26, 2015). Osgoode Legal Studies Research Paper No. 35/2016. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2680241 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2680241

David J. Doorey (Contact Author)

York University ( email )

4700 Keele Street
Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3

HOME PAGE: http://www.yorku.ca/ddoorey/lawblog/

Paper statistics

Abstract Views