Trade unions tackle the climate crisis

Trade unions organising to tackle the climate crisis

by Ben Wray

Britain’s Conservative government has scrapped policies to reduce carbon emissions while the Labour opposition is also rolling back its own climate commitments. Trade unions are stepping into the political vacuum to demand a working-class ecological agenda

The hotter the world gets, the less the UK government seems to care about climate change. After June’s record-breaking temperatures in Britain, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak proceeded to announce a major U-turn on the country’s carbon emissions reduction commitments in September

Landlords will no longer be required to insulate their rental properties to higher standards. Sunak also delayed a 2030 ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars until 2035 and canceled the phaseout of gas boilers by 2035. The UK was already massively off track to be net zero by 2050: now the legally binding target does not look remotely credible.

The Conservative government’s climate backsliding raises questions about strategy for the climate action movement. On the fifth anniversary of the launch of Extinction Rebellion in the UK, the government is much more focused on criminalizing climate protesters than it is on decarbonizing the economy.

What is to be done? And where do workers fit into the climate action agenda? On October 27, trade unionists from across the labor movement gathered in London to discuss a new workplace-oriented strategy for decarbonization: green collective bargaining…

Read Ben Wray’s report of our conference Working for Climate Justice published by Jacobin.