If you look at the actions taken by the states in the United States against climate change, Texas might look like an unmoving elephant. It has the highest greenhouse gas emissions in the country, twice as much as California, which has a population of 10 million. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, between oil and gas extraction, refining, and petrochemical production, the fossil fuel industry in Texas employs approximately 450,000 people and has significant political influence. The state’s Republican-controlled legislature has hardly recognized the existence of climate change, let alone passed laws that help fight climate change—on the contrary, it recently passed laws to address climate change. Defend against attacks on fossil fuels.

But these facts conceal the significant changes that are taking place in the state’s economy and culture. Texas builds more wind power than any other state in the United States. Its largest cities Houston, San Antonio, Dallas and Austin have all developed climate action plans aimed at reducing emissions to zero by the middle of this century.Recent research shows that the oil and gas industry No longer promote economic growth In the state. Texas oil and gas workers — who are often seen as an obstacle to climate action — have begun to accept the idea of ​​an ongoing energy transition.

On Wednesday, dozens of unions participating in the Texas AFL-CIO annual meeting, including those working in the oil and gas industry, voted for one Series recommendations Texas reduces emissions while creating high-paying jobs and ensuring that fossil fuel workers are not left behind.

“We got these claims that the fossil fuel unions are against climate action,” said Mijin Cha, a professor at the Western Institute, who only studies transition and is committed to Texas recommendations. “I think it’s more complicated than what we heard.”

These suggestions are made by Texas Climate Work ProjectIt is a new branch of the Texas AFL-CIO, working with researchers from the Cornell University Workers Research Institute and consulting with 27 Texas unions from all walks of life. Their goal is to reduce carbon emissions in almost every part of the Texas economy, and ambitious goals include building wind and solar power plants and geothermal power plants, upgrading the state’s transmission grid, reducing building energy consumption, Install solar panels in schools, expand broadband Internet access, expand high-speed rail, and realize electrification of school buses and public vehicles.

Texas’s huge industrial sector accounts for 42% of the state’s energy-related emissions and is more difficult to clean. The report recommends that the state take more measures to support the development of technologies to capture carbon from chimneys and directly from the air.

These are key elements of many climate plans, but the report goes one step further, adding estimates of job creation to each recommendation, and describing how labor leaders use these goals as opportunities for high-paying union jobs.

For example, a “Buy Texas” program for electric school buses and government-owned vehicles can stimulate local electric vehicle manufacturing and create 3,401 jobs. Building the required electric vehicle charging infrastructure to support these vehicles can create 1,307 jobs in construction and wiring upgrades. The report suggests that unions can develop national standards or certifications for the installation and maintenance of electric vehicle charging stations, ensuring that these jobs are filled by skilled union labor. Overall, the recommendations in the report will directly create approximately 1.1 million jobs and indirectly create 2 million jobs in the next 25 years.

Lara Skinner, director of the Climate and Labor Program at the Cornell University Workers Research Institute, who conducted research for the report, said that such analysis is often missing in climate conversations. “People are really concerned about the carbon impact of the proposal,” she said. “It doesn’t emphasize enough what types of jobs these activities will create, what is the quality of these jobs, and do they actually help reverse inequality?”

In 2020, only 4.8% of Texas workers joined a union, which is half of the national average of 10.7%. Although supporters of clean energy often portray the energy transition as a huge job creation opportunity, so far, most of these jobs have not joined a union. Skinner said that nationwide, the unionization rate of fossil fuel power plants is about 20%, while the unionization rate of wind farms is 6%, and the unionization rate of solar power plants is only 3%.

But in some states, unions have entered the field of clean energy. After Hurricane Sandy, Skinner worked with the New York State union to prepare a similar climate employment report.This Activity As a result, he successfully lobbied the national goal of 9 GW of offshore wind power and Current wages and project labor agreement requirements Used in renewable energy projects of a certain scale.

Wayne Lord, who consulted on the Texas report, is the business manager of Plumbers Local Union 68, which is part of a larger union representing plumbers who work on plumbing. He said his members understand that the transition is coming and needed. “We experienced a very violent hurricane, and then we turned right and we encountered a situation where the entire state was frozen. We knew that some measures had to be taken,” he said. Lord said he saw new opportunities for plumbers to improve water efficiency, install new energy-efficient heating, cooling and ventilation systems, and install systems to remove dust from solar panels. Pipe fitters can find jobs for new pipes that transport carbon dioxide captured from factory chimneys to places where they can be stored underground.

Lord said that just because the union supports these recommendations does not mean that there will be no tensions with environmental organizations over fossil fuel projects. He said he believes that traditional energy will not disappear completely.

Lee Medley, the former president of United Steel Workers Local 13-1, also consulted on these suggestions. He agreed that fossil fuel jobs will not disappear completely because he believes that oil and natural gas will continue to be used to make plastics. But he wants to make sure that as some of his members’ jobs disappear, they receive retraining to do the same high-paying jobs.

“There are a lot of people who claim to have a lot of jobs, but nothing can guarantee that they are union jobs or high-paying jobs,” he said. Medley said he is skeptical of estimates of how many jobs these different proposals will create. “But at the same time, if I don’t participate, I won’t be able to influence these numbers,” he said.

AFL-CIO voting is only the first step. Bodelp, executive director of the Texas Climate Employment Project, said his job now is to adopt these suggestions and turn them into reality. He said: “The next step is to work with many unions that have provided feedback on this report to help achieve this goal.”

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