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Trade unions examine global energy issues

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18 October, 2012The Cornell Global Labor Institute and the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation hosted a conference entitled "Energy Emergency - Energy Transition: Developing Trade Union Strategies for a Global Transition" from 10 to 12 October, 2012.

Important issues were discussed. Energy resource investment and development is being guided by greed not need. Rapid construction of energy systems to try to keep up with demand, is in general not utilizing the best or most sustainable technologies. This risks locking the world in to a built infrastructure that is poorly adapted to the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Many participants pointed to the failure of the current global economic model and the need for greater democracy in the control of energy resources, in the generation of electricity, in the distribution of electricity, in the planning of future energy systems, and in demanding universal access to energy as a human right.

Trade unions around the world have responded to the energy crisis by engaging in the debate on future energy systems and industrial strategies, as well as the question of how to create a Just Transition for present and future workers.

Participants generally made the case for public and democratic ownership of energy, although some pointed out that trade unions work with private employers as well, sometimes with good results for union members.

Representatives IndustriALL Global Union and many of its affiliates, other global union federations, and progressive labour groups were in attendance and participated in the discussion that was very open and frank, particularly in the small groups. For more details on the conference, please see the website: http://energyemergencyenergytransition.org/

There will be further dialogue facilitated by Cornell on these and related subjects.