Two articles by NRDC and the Sierra Club, and an opinion piece in the Los Angeles Daily News, summarize the findings of the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation’s recent study “California’s Building Decarbonization: Workforce Needs and Recommendations.” The study is the first to estimate the potential employment impacts of decarbonization as California moves away from the use of fossil fuels in buildings. Despite a loss of jobs in the fossil fuel industry, the report estimates that the transition to all-electric buildings will support a net increase of more than 100,000 jobs over the next 25 years. The study recommends policy interventions and programs to ease work transitions, including bridges to retirement for older works and retraining and job placement assistance for younger ones. As California lays out its long-term climate goals, the report highlights the importance of planning and policy action to protect workers and ease the transition from one industry to the next.
Zev Yaroslavsky, director of the Los Angeles Initiative at UCLA Luskin, spoke to the L.A. Times about the political feud between Mayor Eric Garcetti and the union that represents workers at the Department of Water and Power. The union has run a series of television and radio commercials attacking Garcetti’s plan to address climate change, saying it would eliminate thousands of jobs amid a serious housing crisis. Much of the opposition is driven by Garcetti’s plan to close three DWP natural gas plants but that is not mentioned in the ad, the story notes. “Unless you’re on the inside, you don’t really know what this is all about,” Yaroslavsky said. “You don’t know that it’s about shutting down fossil-fuel-powered plants in the basin.” Noting that the ads may be aimed at City Council members, Yaroslavsky said the union’s message may be: “This is what we’re doing to the mayor. Imagine what we can do to you.”