“No jobs on a dead planet”

A global union federation composed of unions representing 176 million workers in 161 countries and territories is making climate justice one of its top priorities.

Sharan Burrow, general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation  (ITUC) said that climate change is a union issue because “there are no jobs on a dead planet.”

“The dominant global economic model is destroying jobs and the planet,” said Burrow. Governments need to support a transition to a more sustainable economy.

ITUC recognizes that such a transition could be disruptive and cause hardships for working people, especially those in countries with inadequate resources; consequently, the federation is demanding that unions have a voice in this transition.

We want to see the transition happen “through investment in new green jobs, skills, income protection, and other necessary measures implemented everywhere, with adequate funding for the poorest and most vulnerable nations,” reads ITUC’s manifesto on climate change action.

ITUC is urging world governments to agree to climate action that will limit the average temperature increase during this century to 2°C or less. If the current trend continues, average temperatures will increase by  4°C.

ITUC will use its annual World Day for Decent Work on October 7 to focus attention on the need for climate justice and workers rights, which the federation says are connected.

The world is on an unsustainable path, said Burrow. Inequality is the highest it has been in recent memory and getting worse, unemployment and precarious work are rampant, and 1.2 billion people live in extreme poverty. Climate change has and will worsen working and living conditions.

But if done in the right way, shifting to a more sustainable economy could alleviate or at least moderate these problems.

“When governments do act to reduce carbon pollution and equip the communities and industries for the climate challenges to come, many more jobs will be created,” said Burrow.

For example, ITUC research shows that investing in green technologies could create 48 million new jobs in the 12 countries with the most advanced economies alone. In Germany up to 400,000 new renewable energy jobs have been created in just two years.

Even more jobs could be created if these technologies spread throughout the world.

With that in mind, ITUC is urging its member unions to hold rallies, work place actions, public demonstrations, or other actions on October 7 that tie together the need for climate action, economic justice, and workers rights.

After that, ITUC plans to take its campaign for climate action and worker justice to the UN Climate Change talks that will be held in Lima, Peru between December 1 and December 12.

The Guardian reports that representatives of ITUC will attend the climate change talks in Lima and will urge governments to ignore the special interests of climate change doubters and agree to begin acting for climate justice.

“We watched governments fail the planet and their people in Copenhagen and the same corporate interests want to see failure in Paris,” said Burrow referring to past climate change talks in Copenhagen and future talks in Paris. “The mission of the trade union movement to ensure jobs, rights, and social equality requires that we embrace the cause of a just transition towards sustainable development – a transition that must start now,” said Burrow.


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