Today’s dirty energy economy directs the biggest benefits to a small, wealthy elite, and the biggest disadvantages to the rest of us, especially the poor and working classes, communities of color and indigenous peoples. Not only is it a system of planetary destruction, the dirty energy paradigm is racist, imperialist and oppressive, but its alternative — a renewable energy future — need not be.
In 2019, 350PDX frontline staff of color defined climate justice as using participatory democracy to create community-led solutions in addressing the root causes of climate disruption and recognizing the disproportionate impact climate chaos has on frontline communities. Participatory democracy means the participants have the power to make decisions on policy.
The Goal of a Just Transition
When we say we are working towards a Just Transition, we are envisioning a society where the burdens of transition – retraining workers, remediating toxified lands, building new infrastructures and technologies–are fairly shared across groups. Likewise, a just transition requires that the benefits of transitioning to clean, renewable systems–vibrant communities and wild spaces, economic benefits, and employment opportunities–are shared equitably.
We are grounding ourselves in the work other communities have done, are doing, and plan to do. We understand no transition of such size happens all at once, and it will take ongoing, consistent and meaningful action to promote public policies and practices supporting a just transition here in Portland, Oregon, and the Pacific Northwest region. Focusing on our local demands, we work towards a world that shares the benefits of a 100% renewable energy economy among all people.