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Columbia Energy Exchange

Good Jobs in a Low-Carbon Future

Building a low-carbon future will bring significant change to the U.S. economy, especially to employment as alternative forms of energy increasingly take hold. And to go smoothly, that transition will require sound public policy and public support.

In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Bill Loveless talks to Richard Trumka, the president and CEO of the AFL-CIO, and former U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, the president and CEO of the Energy Futures Initiative. Earlier this year, their organizations formed the Labor Energy Partnership to promote energy policies that promote economic, racial and gender equity based on quality jobs and the preservation of workers’ rights, all the while addressing the growing climate crisis.

In exclusive podcast discussion, President Trumka and Secretary Moniz explain a new report by the Labor Energy Partnership that lays out the opportunities and pitfalls of such sweeping changes in the economy. The report, called “Energy Transitions: The Framework for Good Jobs in a Low-CarbonFuture,” makes the case that this industrial transition is both different from those in the past and urgently needed because of the existential threat of climate change.

The report opens by acknowledging that industrial transitions have rarely been smooth. In fact, it notes they have been typically marked by community and worker dislocations with significant regional disparities, disproportionate impacts on minority communities, and fraying of existing social institutions.

The AFL-CIO is the largest federation of unions in the U.S., and the Energy Futures Initiative is a Washington-based non-profit dedicated to promoting a clean-energy future.

Richard Trumka was elected president of the AFL-CIO in 2009 after having served as secretary treasurer of the federation since 1995. Previously, he was president of the United Mine Workers from 1982 to 1995.

Ernest Moniz founded the Energy Futures Initiative in 2017. He is also the co-chair and CEO of the Nuclear Threat Initiative. Dr. Moniz was the U.S. energy secretary from 2013 to 2017 and an under secretary at the U.S. Department of Energy from 1997 to 2001.

A long-time member of the faculty at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he was also founding director of the MIT Energy Initiative.

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