PCS Union plan for a National Climate and Biodiversity Service

John Moloney, Assistant General Secretary, PCS:

PCS Union was closely involved with developing the original One Million Climate Jobs campaign. As climate disasters intensify, global emissions rise, and the gap widens between UK climate targets and effective polices to achieve them, the need is greater than ever for a comprehensive climate jobs plan to cut emissions across all sectors.  For PCS, we know this necessary transformation cannot be implemented effectively as the Civil Service is not designed to deliver a long term plan that requires the greatest degree of cross departmental working. That is why we have proposed the National Climate and Biodiversity Service, which would join together all net zero work in the UK Civil Service so that government operates as a coherent whole.

Faced with the government's backtracking, driven in part by misguided electoral calculations (as part of their war on woke and the alleged war on the motorist), we must redouble our efforts. Both in the trade unions and in the climate change movement we need to work together convince workers and the public that the government is wrong, but also to take the necessary actions to get this government and any future ones to adopt the right polices.

The full text of the new pamphlet is below, you can also download it as a pdf

National Climate Change and Biodiversity Service: A PCS workers’ plan for an alternative civil service

The era of global warming has ended and “the era of global boiling has arrived”, the UN secretary general, António Guterres, has declared.

In those circumstances, the notion that it is business as usual for the Civil Service or society as a whole, clearly is not sustainable. There needs to be a radical overhaul of how the UK Civil Service works. This would only be one element in the solution – you still need political will and a plan – but without effective state mechanisms there is no hope in ensuring net zero.

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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April 21-24: Unite to Survive

We're supporting the Extinction Rebellion call-out for the 'BIG ONE' mobilisation, involving more than 200 groups and organisations gathering around Parliament 21-24 April

It's clear that the multiple crises we face are interlinked: irreversible climate breakdown, spiralling cost of living and poverty, and attacks on fundamental rights to protest and strike. So let's make sure this message is heard with plenty of trade union banners and placards on the action!

Friday 21 April

'People's pickets' outside government departments, with many different groups coming together to organise these. CACCTU will be at the "Department for Energy Security and Net Zero" (DESNZ), along with other groups including Fuel Poverty Action, Stop Rosebank, Just Stop Oil and Biofuelwatch and more. 

Activists will be there from 7am to allow engagement with workers as they arrive. The 'pickets' will continue throughout the day until 6pm, though key times are likely to be12 noon to 2pm when workers are coming and going, and activists coming for the day are most likely to be around.. At 3pm there will also be an 'opening ceremony' in Parliament Square.

PCS Union are supporting the action but will not be asking members to come out during core hours, only at lunchtime. Note that "People's Pickets" are to be inclusive and accessible, and won't block access to the buildings.

Some trade unionists will be planning to attend other picket sites with their local groups or specific campaigns. There is a map showing the locations of the different government departments.

Saturday 22 April

The trade union hub will be opposite the south end of the Houses of Parliament, just past 'Old Palace Yard' where the health, education and science hubs are based. CACCTU will be there along with XR TU and other trade union climate groups. We'll have speakers and discussion from 11-1pm, about how trade unions and climate activists can and must work together, the solutions we need, and those we don't.  Please come and join us if you can!

11am - Welcome! Trade unions and climate activism

Daniel Randall, RMT and XRTU

11.10 - The changes we need

Climate jobs - Suzanne Jeffery, CACCTU; Avoiding greenwash - Ellen Robottom, CACCTU; Offshore workers’ demands for a just energy transition  - Rosemary Harris, Platform; Cumbria coal mine and green jobs - Hazel Graham; plus open discussion

11.40 - Climate/green networks in trade unions

NEU Climate Change Network - Paul Atkin; Equity For a Green New Deal; Unite Grassroot Climate Justice Caucus - Clara Paillard; plus open discussion and networking

12.10 - Democracy - workers and climate

Workers Assemblies - Finlay Asher, Safe Landing; Green reps (tbc)

12.25 - Organising locally (speakers and open mic)

Carol Mills, Eastbourne Trades Council, plus other speakers

From 1pm CACCTU will be joining other trade union climate activists for a Trade Union bloc on the march for biodiversity – please bring your TU flags and banners.