By Yessenia Funes
The United Nations released a new science-based report Wednesday that shows the ways climate change can reverse the progress the world has made to end inequality through the U.N.’s sustainable development goals. The international institution offers plenty of solutions to combat this disappointing reality, but among them is a key piece of a proper Green New Deal—and that’s a just transition, baby.
Plain and simple, a just transition works to ensure that as governments move away from their dependence on fossil fuels, the most vulnerable—former employees of that sector, the poor, communities of color—don’t bear any unintended negative consequences. If countries around the world are actually going to eradicate poverty and ensure human health and well-being—just a couple of the 17 international goals we’re supposed to meet in 10 years to help the world find “peace and prosperity,” as the UN puts it—we gotta solve the climate crisis. Doing so in a way that doesn’t worsen our global society’s already egregious inequality won’t be easy, but it’s possible.
“The Green New Deal and the way that it incorporates the social and environmental side of the economy is very similar to the sustainable development framework,” Amir Jina, an assistant professor at the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy, told Earther. “We cannot and should not be separating these two aspects.”
Granted, the Green New Deal as we know it is entirely U.S.-focused. What the UN is talking about in this report is the global economy—not just the U.S. economy. The recipe for every country will be different; the recipe for every town or state within those countries will be different. The report acknowledges this, but there are some throughlines as global leaders come together to solve the threat of the climate crisis, Jina said.