Government inaction on climate change is largely due to excessive corporate influence on the political process.
The major fossil companies (oil, gas, coal) wield extraordinary power over key governments, and are blocking the changes urgently needed.
The situation could not be more serious. The planet’s climate has already increased by 1°C since the pre-industrial era. Glacier melt and ocean warming are happening even faster than the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicted.
Climate chaos is already a reality for small island states and coastal communities. And the warning signs keep coming: from mega floods to hurricanes and increased climate migration, it's clear that without action, the fate of our entire ecosystem will be at risk. Public Service Workers are the front line responders to climatic catastrophe. They know first-hand the urgent need for political action to reduce global warming.
Yet the Paris Climate Accord does not have the needed enforcement tools to hold corporations to account and governments are not on track to meet their emissions targets. After 25 years of negotiations, governments have agreed measures that will still see a 3°C rise in average temperature, which will devastate whole ecosystems, cause species extinctions and provoke untold human suffering.
Trade unions must become more active in tackling this existential issue. Fighting to ensure a just and equitable transition for workers affected by the move to low-carbon energy production is one important step.
How did we get here?
Extracting and burning fossil fuels was the basis of the 19th century industrial revolution.
Whole societies are built on this model and replicate most of its foundations, including its inherent social inequalities: burning fossil fuels was not just about transforming a source of energy into mechanical power, it was also about controlling labour.
The first industrial revolution was about extracting value from both coal and workers.
Regrettably, not much has changed. Cheap natural resources and cheap labour are still the key inputs for industrial and, increasingly, the service sectors.
The fact that in most countries labour conceded control of the tools of production to capital means that the labour movement is forced to invent new tools to vehicle its demands for justice and equity.
It also means that most societies are unable to force a dramatic and rapid end to burning fossil fuels, as the major fossil fuel companies have aggregated enormous financial, industrial and political power.
An Urgent Threat
We simply can not fight global warming through incremental change. We need system change now to reduce the disastrous outcomes forecast.
people will be forced to migrate because of climate change, unless urgent action is taken
of total global emissions are the responsibility of 100 corporations
spent by the fossil fuel lobby to undermine the shift to a greener economy
Fighting the Fossil Fuel Lobby
A just and equitable transition requires deep and direct government intervention. Government needs to impose the policy framework and establish the legal and regulatory tools to impose this transition. Yet this sort of policy runs counter to the interests of major fossil-fuel corporations, who hold huge sway over politicians.
Workers and trade unions in the energy sector need to realize that they cannot win this fight on their own. They need allies. They must integrate with members of the community to create political demands that can’t be ignored.
Estimates show that 75% of costs to cut carbon emissions will need to come from public budgets.
Resisting energy privatisation
The neoliberal model of deregulating, unbundling and privatising is a failure.
A failure for energy workers whose wages, working conditions and job security are attacked, and whose unions are often torn apart.
A failure for families and communities whose tariffs rise to pay corporate profits, shareholder dividends and massive marketing campaigns to sell the same electrons under different labels.
The only way we can achieve the energy transition we need is through strong public investment, ownership and governance of renewable energy sources.
Trade Unions for Energy Democracy
We help lead Trade Unions for Energy Democracy - a labour movement coalition dedicated to promoting a pro-worker, pro-public transition to a cleaner, greener economy.TUED Website
We do not have time to tinker around the edges
The transition away from fossil fuels requires bold government policy that ensures the millions of men and women currently working in these sectors are not left worse-off.
A Just Transition to a cleaner, fairer system provides positive opportunities for workers and unions.
New, democratic forms of energy production and delivery could create millions of jobs and increase public participation and accountability.
We can not wait for market solutions to materialise - we need governments to take the lead through the promotion of clean energy solutions and the creation of climate jobs and a new, green economy.
We advocate for pro-public, government led climate action at key forum such as the UN COP meetings.
We link the climate issue with the wider fight for economic justice, through research and analysis on the shady interests who are holding back progress and how we can overcome these barriers.
Anvic Villar Public Services Labor Independent Confederation (PSLINK)
"We are on the front lines of the fight against climate change"
Anvic is a medical first responder in the small town of Bislig on the coastline of the Philippines.
When hurricanes and typhoons strike his community, he runs towards the danger.
Climate change is already increasing the frequency and intensity of these disasters, and workers such as Anvic have to deal with the tragic consequences.
Students from around the world went on strike on 15 March against government inaction on climate change. We supports this new generation of activists to build the political pressure required to tackle the global climate crisis. #FridaysForFuture #ClimateStrike #schoolstrike4climate
Video: Global Climate strike - 15 March 2019
We fight for your right to high quality utility services
Your friends, families and community relies on these services - and the workers delivering them rely on safe, quality working conditions.
We fight for trade union rights
We promote the ratification and implementation of ILO Convention 151 and fight for recognition of trade union rights across all areas of national administration
We protect jobs
We work with affiliates to ensure that digitalisation contributes to quality public services, not a reduction in public services and attacks on workers
We promote the independence of public servants
We defend the important role public servants play in providing frank, fearless and evidence-based advice to counteract corruption.
We support a robust global governance system
We advocate for the labour rights, collective bargaining and access to justice for international civil servants, including consultants and interns.
Want to learn more about remunicipalisation around the world?
Check out the remunicipalisation tracker and learn more about how campaigns win.
Do you have inside information on the dodgy practices of companies engaged in water or energy privatisation.
Leak to us
Want to launch your own campaign against utility privatisation?
Use our campaign builder - People Over Profit.
Want to interview PSI as part of an investigation on public water or energy services?
Contact David Boys, our Utilities officer and Deputy-General Secretary.
Want to know more about how unions are fighting for a Just Transition?
Check out Trade Unions for Energy Democracy