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Climate Change a Threat to the Labour Movement

13 November, 2013IndustriALL Global Union offers a solution to climate inaction: a Just Transition to implement sustainable industrial policies, that will create a hopeful future for today's and tomorrow's workers.

Climate change threatens everything the labour movement stands for: fairness, social justice, decent work. The science is unequivocal. The need for action to limit climate disruption - no longer prevent, but limit - is clear, and urgent. Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda, coinciding with the current round of climate talks (COP19) illustrates the urgency for nations to accept firm and ambitious emissions reduction targets.

Unsurprisingly, powerful voices are waging a campaign of disinformation and job blackmail to delay action. This has nothing to do with science, and everything to do with trillions of dollars worth of fossil fuel reserves whose value may be affected by any action plan.

Likewise, it has nothing to do with genuine concern for working people. The corporate and governmental climate deniers who now pretend concern for jobs are the same ones that have attacked workers and their unions for decades. As Jyrki Raina, General Secretary of IndustriALL Global Union says,

This is a class war. While billionaires prepare safe havens for themselves and their money, workers will pay the price of climate change; as will, disproportionately, the world's poorest populations.

According to Raina, "Governments must act now, in the interests of their citizens, and generations to come. We want a fair, ambitious, and binding deal on greenhouse gas emissions. We want sustainable industrial policies that create decent jobs in sustainable energy, and efficient, greener production. We want equitable and reliable access to food, water, and energy for all people. And we need a Just Transition to get to that future from here."

A transformation is coming. The choice we have is whether it will be a violent scramble for resources such as water, energy, and fertile land; desperate last-minute survival measures that completely dismiss human rights and social protection; or an orderly and Just Transition that respects and protects present-day workers while creating new decent work in sustainable industries. Says Raina, "The casino economy has no answers to these questions. We must plan a hopeful future for all workers, including those in industries that may be impacted by efforts to limit greenhouse gases. It is simple social justice".

Jyrki Raina concluded: "There is no credibility in ignoring climate change or becoming the last defenders of the indefensible. Yes, we have a responsibility to worry about jobs and the economy, but there are no jobs on a dead planet."