Here’s why the unions are mobilising for climate action this Sunday


From the streets of New York to the boulevards of Paris, working people, their families and their unions will turn out on Sunday 21 September for climate action.

The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called world leaders together for a summit at UN HQ on climate. All eyes will be on New York and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) flag will be there along with many other union groups.

From Kolkata to Khartoum, from Rome to Rio de Janeiro, cities around the world are planning to join the action, so look for your unions at a rally near you.

There are no jobs on a dead planet and if we are to meet the challenge of de-carbonising our world we demand both government leadership and business responsibility.

The science is unequivocal. The world’s temperature is rising. Current trends will lead us to a 4°C average increase or more in this century and without urgent, ambitious action we will face irreversible changes in our climate.

We have policy. The ITUC wants the world’s governments to agree on climate action and give us a fighting chance to limit the temperature rise to 2°C or less.

We are out of time. Climate-related catastrophes such as cyclones, floods, drought, fires, melting glaciers, season changes and more are increasing and hurting working people now.

Their impacts will only become stronger within 15 years – this will destroy more communities and jobs.

We demand industrial transformation. Science tells us we need to urgently stabilise carbon emissions at 44 gigatonnes. Business as usual gets us to 59 gigatonnes by 2020. It doesn’t add up. All our economic sectors must change.

Workers and their unions demand to be part of a structured dialogue that ensures industrial transformation. All nations, all people must have universal access to breakthrough technologies that will make our industries and our jobs sustainable for workers everywhere.

We demand a just transition. We will not leave anyone behind. We have played our role in UN negotiations and fought and won commitments to ‘Just Transition’. Now we want to see the transition happen on the ground, including through investment in measure to drive new green jobs, to enhance skills and green existing jobs, in essential research, development and innovation, in income protection, community support measures and more.

There must be adequate funding for the poorest and most vulnerable of nations.

This requires the world’s leaders to settle a global agreement in Paris next year, an agreement that must be inclusive. Unions will mobilise for climate justice.


Zero carbon future

The New Climate Economy report launched this week reinforces the imperative and lays out the possibilities for a zero carbon future.

A price on carbon, new technologies and emission reductions are trending with 40 countries and over 20 regions now have some form of carbon pricing.

And more than 4,000 global companies report their greenhouse gas emissions providing a signal to investors that they are committed to reducing their carbon pollution.

It is simply a fact that high-carbon growth is proving increasingly costly.

In the 15 countries with the highest greenhouse gas emissions the damage to health from poor air quality is valued at an average of over 4 per cent of GDP. In China this is 10 per cent.

Feeding the world’s people will require a 2 per cent increase in global agricultural productivity. Three billion people live in rural and forest areas.

If just 12 per cent of the world’s degraded lands were restored to production, we could feed another 200 million people and farmers’ incomes would be raised by US$40 billion a year.

Food waste reduction measures in developed countries could save US$200 billion per year by 2030, while cutting emissions of carbon dioxide.

Already, renewable energy is likely to account for around half of all new investment in electricity generation over the next 15 years. Most fast-growing economies can already meet more than 25 per cent of their new energy needs from renewable sources.

Actions that increase efficiency can drive economic growth and cut emissions. Most economies have the opportunity to double their rate of energy efficiency improvement from 1 per cent a year to 2 per cent.

Subsidies to fossil fuels and agricultural inputs and incentives to urban sprawl are estimated to total over US$1 trillion per year globally.

Phasing them out while ensuring just transition support for working families would achieve economic gains and lower emissions.

New financial instruments – long term investment and pooled funding – can make the difference and workers capital has a role to play.

Transition can be hard but it’s our future and working people and their unions want a say.

We want to see that it means jobs; that it means pollution-free cities and that it means a fighting chance for the planet. That’s worth fighting for!


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