As the pandemic put the global economy on hold, we saw that cities became more liveable, the air more breathable, the noise levels more acceptable. However, the price paid for this tranquillity was too steep: loss of income, loss of jobs, deep anxiety and distress.
As we launch the climate toolkit, much of the world is still in Covid lockdown, or only starting the transition out, to what is likely to be a complicated new reality. The immediate future presents PSI and affiliates with many threats and opportunities, for which we must prepare.
Scientists assume that the carbon emissions from 2020 will be 5% lower than 2019, thanks to the pandemic slowing global economic activity. Yet, in order to stay within the 1.5°C target set in the Paris Accord, we must now actually reduce, annually, our greenhouse gas emissions by over 7%! Which implies that we must not return to business as usual. That we prepare to take radical steps to redesign our economies and our societies.
The toolkit can help unions develop and refine strategies to respond to the climate crisis. There are exercises linked to the materials, they can be used by workers alone, or (better) in groups. And trade unions will need to develop their strategies in cooperation with civil society groups, with elected officials, with a whole range of stakeholders.
Where workers and trade unions can act directly, and immediately, is at the workplace. All of our workplaces can and should be made carbon-neutral and less harmful to the environment. PSI will deepen the sectoral analyses and draw on affiliate experiences to share accomplishments. The ITUC has launched a campaign to draw attention to the need to “Greening the Workplace”, and asks unions to report actions annually on 24 June. We encourage unions to participate.
Much more remains to be done to avert the worst of the climate crisis that is upon us. We hope that this toolkit can help lead to more awareness and action. PSI will establish a closed platform for affiliates to share their knowledge and experiences, and where we will be able to better coordinate our climate activities.