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Stories about Labor and Economics.

Energy and Climate as Labour Issues

Nicholas Hildyard

Organised labour has long insisted that energy is more than an issue of electrons. Over two decades ago, the Congress of South African Trade Unions was explicit that addressing energy poverty is not just a matter of power plants, grids and transformers; it is also – and primarily – a matter of political change. Who controls energy production, who finances it, what the energy is used for and who decides are key to the struggle to ensure that people have the energy they need to ensure decent livelihoods.

The New South American Political Map

Raúl Zibechi

The New South American Political Map

The election results in Venezuela and Argentina, the Brazilian crisis, and the erosion of the “citizens’ revolution” in Ecuador are part of a change in political climate that puts the transformative processes underway on the defensive.

In the past weeks four progressive governments in the region show unmistakable signs of weakness. Rafael Correa will not compete for re-election, in the context of an uncertain economic outlook for his country. Dilma Rousseff may face impeachment by parliament. Nicolás Maduro suffered the first Bolivarian electoral defeat, leaving his government at the mercy of parliament, and Cristina Fernandez’s candidate was defeated by the right-wing Mauricio Macri.

Wilderness areas more often a boon, not drag

Thomas M. Power and George Wuerthner

Wildland preservation is motivated by a variety of ethical, biological, cultural, and recreational concerns. Rarely are efforts to protect wildlands motivated by an interest in promoting economic growth.

Those working on wildland preservation have been forced to take up the issue of local economic impacts because those supporting commercial development of those wild natural landscapes emphatically assert that wildland preservation damages the local and national economies by restricting access to valuable natural resources and constraining commercial economic activity that otherwise would take place.

Yet numerous economic studies suggest that protecting landscapes for their wildlands values at the very least has little negative impact on local/regional economies and in most instances is a positive net economic benefit.

How to kill the demos: the water struggle in Italy

Andrea Muehlebach

On November 28, 2015, water activists from the Southern Italian region of Campania staged a massive protest in the city of Naples. Some 5,000 water activists and environmentalists, trade unionists and workers from Naples’ water works protested a recently passed regional law that aims to centralize water management and set the stage for water privatization.

The demonstration was one in several that occurred in the last few years. Previous demonstrations had been organized against an (only nominally) public water company that manages water services in 76 Campanian municipalities and that had made water prices soar and water-shut offs proliferate. What was striking about this protest was not only the presence of Naples’ mayor Luigi de Magistris but of more than thirty mayors walking shoulder to shoulder with protesters. The latter were part of a network of mayors that had been formed in 2013 to protest privatization and to underscore their commitment to the public and participatory management of water.

Can the Climate Movement Break Free from the "Jobs. vs. Environment" Debate?

Kate Aronoff

For two weeks this May, organizers across 12 countries will participate in Break Free 2016, an open-source invitation to encourage "more action to keep fossil fuels in the ground and an acceleration in the just transition to 100 percent renewable energy." Many of the month's events -- pulled together by and a slew of groups around the world -- are set to take place within ongoing campaigns to shut down energy infrastructure, targeting "some of the most iconic and dangerous fossil fuel projects all over the world" with civil disobedience.

The Break Free site's opening page invites viewers to "join a global wave of resistance to keep coal, oil and natural gas in the ground." And that's where some unions have taken issue.

Why is it so hard for capitalism to go green?

David Mirtz

This past Earth Day at the United Nations, leaders from around the world signed what is being called a "landmark agreement" to address the climate crisis. Without a doubt, it is a positive step forward and can help create the political momentum to address what is arguably the defining issue of this century. But as Coral Davenport noted in the New York Times when the accord was hammered out in Paris in December, "The new deal will not, on its own, solve global warming."

Scientists say the greenhouse emission targets that the parties agree to will only count for about half of what is needed to stop atmospheric temperatures from rising 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit). That's the point where many studies say the world becomes locked into a future of rising sea levels, drought, flooding, more destructive weather patterns, and shortages of food and water.


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