CACCTU's blog

General Motion on Climate Change

Below and in printable form is a General Motion intended for wide circulation across the trade union movement, and adoption by branches, regions, trades councils and annual conferences, with an ultimate aim for it to be heard at the 2024 TUC.

The motion is deliberately pitched at a high level, starting with the basic assertion that climate change is a class issue and a trade union issue.  It sets out the fundamental elements that should underpin the climate policies of every union in order to achieve a common understanding of the crisis, and how to respond to it in the interests of climate justice for workers, public service and the planet.  Many of these elements will already be clearly understood, but there is a need for a consistent and coherent articulation of these across the movement.  

The reason this General Motion is being raised now is due to the fragmented and inconsistent responses of different trade unions, within unions, and between members and their leaderships.  In particular, the climate-related motions passed at recent Trades Union Congresses have been deeply regressive, producing a narrative that runs counter to the long term interests, and job security, of workers, both in the U.K. and globally.  This motion seeks to redirect that narrative towards more progressive and radical solutions that will produce and secure thousands of jobs, restore a public service ethos, and make genuine progress towards countering the climate emergency.

Adaptations to the motion are welcomed to incorporate specific local, sectoral or international factors; the motion needs to be relevant to each constituency while ensuring that the fundamental elements are retained.  It purposely avoids specific references in order to be universal, and it is envisaged that details of specifics would be covered in complementary motions.

Finally, this motion is not viewed as the property of any one union, climate organisation or political faction.  It has emerged from a common analysis among activists across a number of trade unions, many of whom are also involved with the Campaign Against Climate Change Trade Union group (CACCTU), Greener Jobs Alliance (GJA) and other climate networks. 

Sunak's set to backtrack on climate action, but we expect better from trade union leaders

Sunak's dangerous backtracking on policies for net zero, in a craven attempt to win votes for an unpopular Tory government, is a disaster for the planet and does nothing to tackle the cost of living crisis. Every trade unionist should challenge and join campaigners in opposing this.

Sadly there is nothing new in backtracking on climate pledges from the Tory party in government. But we should expect different from trade trade union leaders.

This summer has shown the devastating impacts of climate change. Several thousand lives have been lost in Libya as a result of the most serious climate event to date, yet senior trade union figures are arguing for more fossil fuel extraction in the name of defending jobs.

Both GMB General Secretary Gary Smith and Unite General Secretary Sharon Graham want the Labour Party to reverse its decision not to grant new licences for extracting oil and gas from the North Sea.

Gary Smith claims ‘We’ve cut carbon emissions by decimating working class communities”. This is nonsense. Mining communities were destroyed for economic reasons and to break one of the best organised trade unions in Britain. It was not to reduce carbon emissions. British pits were considered uneconomic and were replaced with cheaper imported coal. The years of austerity and falling real wages account for what has happened since.

Allowing uncontrolled climate change would be the ultimate assault on working class communities in Britain and across the world. That is why we urgently need to transition away from fossil fuels in a way that protects workers rather than the profits of the fossil fuel companies. 

The science is absolutely clear. The more carbon and other greenhouse gases are pumped into the atmosphere, the greater global warming, and the more devasting the impact on the climate and our lives.

We already know that climate events happen with little or no warning and can have a catastrophic consequences for those impacted. People can lose not just their jobs, but also their homes and even their lives. 

Far from defending jobs, demanding new licences for another 30 years of even more carbon emissions actually puts jobs at greater risk of coming to an abrupt end, either from climate events or their economic consequences.

Our Climate Jobs report, 'Building a Workforce for the Climate Emergency'  shows that to successfully transition away from fossil fuels it will be necessary to recruit, train and deploy many more workers than those currently working in fossil fuel related industries. It will take time to do this so we need to start now.

Instead of pandering to the interests of the fossil fuel industry and its Government supporters, the trade union movement must use its full weight to demand that employers and Government urgently create and invest in the climate jobs and the just transition that we need to secure the future of us all.

If you want to campaign for urgent climate action within the trade union movement as well as jobs, then join us.

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