The Wall and the Bridge: Pathways to a Just Transition

If we are serious about responding to climate change, we need to also embrace just transition policies that offer critical support to workers, families, businesses, and communities who lose jobs and livelihoods as we transition away from our traditional reliance on fossil fuels.  This statement is hardly revolutionary, but it has not often had a universally warm reception in Washington and other centers of political decision-making.  The Biden Administration has certainly embraced this message, but just transition policies won’t gain traction until they become a bipartisan policy approach.  A new book from Columbia University’s Glenn Hubbard, who served as chair of the Council of Economic Advisors under George W. Bush, gives me some hope on this front.   The Wall and the Bridge:  Fear and Opportunity in Disruption’s Wake examines how best to help those who lose out in economic transitions.  Hubbard is opposed to “walls” that protect these communities from competition, but he does embrace “bridges” that help support those left behind in the current economic transition.  Hubbard offers a host of useful recommendations, including a new Morrill Act to support community colleges, new investments in retraining, and an expanded commitment to place-based economic development investments.  This book is an interesting and welcome look at tough issues related to economic transition.   (Note:  If you’re interested in learning more, I also recommend today’s excellent Resources Radio podcast episode with Hubbard).