From the TUC

Poznan climate talks: New report from smart, strategic unions

10 Dec 2008, by in Environment

Just what green industrial opportunities mean for working people is brilliantly explained in a new report from the American trade unions and the US Environmental Defense Fund, published here in Poznan at a packed Side Event to the UN Conference on Climate Change.

It touches on many of the areas highlighted in Peter Mandelson’s vision of the “smart, strategic state” in his recent Chatham House speech – especially green sector initiatives with quick growth opportunities.

Manufacturing Climate Solutions (MSC) takes the ITUC’s global report on Green Jobs to the next stage, with an in depth examination of the job opportunities in job rich sectors – in LED lighting manufacture and installation, domestic and commercial buildings insulation, standby power units for HGVs, wind power and concentrated solar power (CSP). The study maps the supply chains company by company in these sectors – eg for the 8,000 separate parts in a typical wind tower – and assesses the public policy mix required to bring these industries forward.

Using golf terminology, it divides firms into “in the green”, on the cusp, poised to benefit and (my category not theirs) in the rough. Clearly, the union organizing challenge is both about opportunities to build membership in green and decent jobs and about maintaining the pressure on governments to develop these crucial low carbon sectors.

MSC’s view of the role of Government is interesting:

  • City governments in partnership with industry to put LED lighting in municipal infrastructures.
  • Government collaboration with private research to scale up CSP.
  • But also, Congressional delay in extending RE investment tax credits.
  • Government’s lack of an effective RE policy, creating uncertainty and increasing investment risk, so harming market viability.

Governments can expect more of this material from trade unions, because we know where the jobs are, as we do them, and we know where the linkages are because are involved up and down the supply chain. In Spain, an ISTAS study shows that wind energy doubled in three years, creating 89,000 jobs, with 220,000 by 2020. Economic instruments working in Spain include a feed-in tariff; regulatory instruments include RE targets; and the policy process involves Government, industry and trade unions in joint work.