From the TUC

Climate actions speak louder than words

17 Feb 2015, by in Environment

Through union lobbying efforts, the ITUC got back “The just transition of the workforce and the creation of decent work” in the UN’s 88-page draft treaty agreed last week in Geneva. Given the massive changes in the world of work that lie ahead, it’s a relief to see core trade union issues back in play at the UN. It’s one reason why on March 7th 2015 unions are backing the Time to Act on Climate Change national march in London. A Just Transition objective in the UN treaty due to be agreed in Paris in December 2015 is vital for trade unions.

Imagine the changes ahead in the world if we were to leave 80% of fossil fuels in the ground. Or if all of Europe’s 15 million cars produced annually were electric vehicles – instead of the 66,000 EVs registered last year?

Time to Act on Climate Change will bring people together again on the streets of London to demand real change and tell politicians seeking election that there is no mandate for backtracking this time to business as usual. David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband may have signed a joint pledge to tackle climate change, which they say will protect the UK’s national security and economic prosperity. But that was the easy bit. The coal, oil and gas industry already have three or four times more fossil fuels ready to be extracted than can be burned, if the UN’s climate treaty is to keep global warming under 2C.

According to the Energy & Climate Change Intelligence Unit (ECCIU), the UN’s 88 page draft includes radically varying proposals for slowing climate change: one option foresees a phase-out of net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Another option seeks a peak of greenhouse gas emissions “as soon as possible.”

Despite the US-China bilateral agreement last year, if there is a deal in Paris, without our efforts to persuade governments it certainly won’t cut emissions enough to hit the 2C global warming target that nations agreed in 2012.

The ECCIU argues that one test is whether the treaty can advance the transition that countries and businesses are making anyway – the 60% growth in both Chinese solar capacity last year, and two-thirds increase in EU electric car production last year are two of the indicators that governments on the ground are serious about changing “business as usual.”

Although electric vehicle registrations in Europe rose by more than 60.9% in 2014, look at the total made: 65,199 electric cars and commercial vehicles, or about 0.4% of EU production. More than half were in just two countries — Norway and France. France now offers €10,000 for clean car switching to eliminate old diesels. The UK (fourth from the left in the bar chart below – click for bigger) registered 7,300 electric vehicles last year.

Elec cars

So the demonstration on March 7th aims to put pressure on political parties before the general election, and raise the profile of climate change and the green economy. It is also intended to energise and strengthen the climate movement – not an end-point but a stepping stone. It will be followed by local actions immediately before the general election, a Climate Coalition lobby of Parliament on 17 June and planning throughout 2015 towards the crucial Paris talks.


One Response to Climate actions speak louder than words

  1. EU’s Paris Protocol – time to bring citizens to the table | ToUChstone blog
    Mar 5th 2015, 6:26 pm

    […] just transition of the workforce and the creation of decent work” reappeared in the UN’s 88-page draft treaty agreed last month. A relief to see core trade union issues back in play at the UN, and one reason […]