Just Transitions Law: Putting Labour Law to Work on Climate Change
(2017) 30(2) Canadian Journal of Environmental Law and Practice (Forthcoming)
56 Pages Posted: 22 Mar 2017 Last revised: 2 May 2017
Date Written: March 21, 2017
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.
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