Climate catastrophe affects more than the temperature

Ahead of the COP26 protests, UNISON Norfolk County branch vice-chair Jess Carrington explains why the environment is a trade union issue

A windfarm at sunset

We must not forget that the catastrophe of climate change is not solely an environmental issue.

It is closely interwoven with issues of social justice and we must not lose this opportunity to ensure that justice for workers is at the very heart of policies designed to make the transformation to the green jobs we need to decarbonise our economy.

A picture of Jess CarringtonSo what is a “green” job? There is no absolute definition, but broadly speaking it is a job which has a positive impact upon the planet.

And we also mustn’t lose sight of the fact that while privileged elites continue to make their profits as the planet burns, the ordinary worker in the UK has been hit in the pocket once again by a budget which does little to stop the disaster of climate breakdown. This simply cannot continue.

So how do we get to where we need to be? We need to bring energy production into public or community ownership and ensure that we involve communities and workers in decision making.

We have to ensure that we focus strongly on tackling the inequalities in communities badly affected by industrial changes in the past. Reducing working hours without loss of pay will both reduce work emissions and improve mental wellbeing.

We need to develop integrated public transport systems that are also publicly owned. We need to Invest in technologies to capture CO2 produced in industrial activity (carbon capture).

We need to insulate existing homes and ensure that new ones are energy efficient and ban the sale of the least energy efficient household appliances.

We need to subsidise renewable energy with public money and push for pension funds to move to fossil fuels divestment. And we have to make sure that no one is left behind and that green jobs are well paid and unionised.

We can’t do this without strong trade unions. Join one today and play your part in making this change happen.