Delegates at the ITF education and organising conference in June were keen to discuss climate change and welcomed the presentations from Jonathan Neale (expert researcher for the ETF climate change project) and Manuel Cortes (TSSA assistant general secretary).
Jonathan opened with a discussion on the impacts of climate change including abrupt climate change, feedback effects, extreme weather events, famine, climate refugees and the potential for war. In order to stop climate change he called for the replacement of all electricity from coal to renewables, refurbishment and insulatation of houses and changes to transportation, shifting people from private cars to buses and trains (with eventually all energy coming from renewable energy). This of course is of particular interest for transport workers.
He emphasised that the technological advancements for renewable energy and efficient transportation have already been made, but that the political will is not yet there. It is now well-documented that climate change policies will make more jobs available for workers.
Why it is important that unions address climate change?
The TSSA have taken a practical approach to addressing climate change and with the Campaign Against Climate Change (CACC) they have produce a pamphlet One Million Climate Jobs. The pamphlet provides ways for a ‘just transition’ to become a reality and for workers not to lose the conditions for which they have fought. They argue that there is a double global crisis: economic and environmental, which needs a bold economic alternative that protects jobs and the climate.
TSSA has developed educational events with CACC on the science of climate change and ways to build a sustainable economy. The training courses were initially only for elected reps and then they were opened up to all members and particularly young members. The union found that through work on climate change they have reached more young people, which has helped to get young members more involved and understand the role of unions in wider society. The TSSA activists and the environment course is now a regular part of the TSSA education and organising programme.The TSSA has also set up Together for Transport to empower communities to protect public transport. The campaign brings together groups and individuals who share a vision of an integrated public transport system serving local communities in order to find local solutions to the threats posed by cuts.
In the plenary discussion, ITF affiliates called for more research on the creation and loss of jobs in transport in relation to climate change policies, how workers will be affected by the shift to greener transport modes and renewable energy and how they can be retrained and reskilled. Although there is no agreed global definition of ‘green jobs’ they can be defined as “any jobs that reduce carbon emissions”.
Some practical initiatives that ITF affiliates can take include:
A full report of the education and organising conference will be available to download shortly.