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

From the Campaign Against Climate Change Trade Union Group

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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