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Want Peace? Ditch Fossil Fuels!

By staff - Labor Network for Sustainability, April 2022

The Labor Network for Sustainability has joined more than 610 organizations in 57 countries to call on world governments to ban Russian oil and gas and to rapidly phase out all fossil fuels in the name of peace. The letter was initiated by Ukrainian climate activists and backed by Roman Shakhmatenko, Ukrainian Deputy Minister of Environmental Protection, who said: “We have to stop being indifferent. We should end using gas, oil and coal.” It calls on governments to “End global fossil fuel addiction that feeds Putin’s war machine” once and for all. It calls on governments to “ban any import of fossil fuels from Russia” and “rapidly phase out all fossil fuels,” ending this “fossil fuel addiction.”

With an emerging priority of boycotting Russian oil and gas, fossil fuel expansion must be immediately halted, and nations worldwide must commit to the rapid and just transition away from all fossil fuels. Reliance on coal, oil and gas is the intentional embrace of death, misery, and collapse at a global scale.

Stand with Ukraine,”

How can climate-safe energy start replacing Russian fossil fuel exports right now? Senators Elizabeth Warren, Ed Markey, and other propose an “Energy Marshall Plan” that would use the Defense Production Act to boost manufacturing of electric heat pumps, efficient electric appliances, and renewable energy technology.

For their full proposal, see their letter to President Biden here.

Solving the Climate Crisis with Nuclear Energy Won’t Work

By Robert Pollin - Dollars & Sense, March/April 2022

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is—as of this writing, in late March—an ongoing calamity. As of now, it is impossible to predict how it might end, and what all its costs will be. We do know, as of now, that many thousands of people are dead, and millions of lives are being wrecked.

In addition to these most brutal consequences, the war must force us to rethink many issues that—with no exaggeration—reach to the core of how we can envision future prospects for life on earth. I will consider only one such question now. That is: What role should nuclear energy play in advancing a workable global climate stabilization project?

In the initial phase of its invasion on February 24, the Russian military seized control of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, which is located about 60 miles north of Kyiv in Ukraine. In 1986, when Ukraine was still part of the Soviet Union, Chernobyl was the site of the most severe nuclear power plant accident in history. An explosion blew the lid off one of the plant’s four operating nuclear reactors. This released radioactive materials into the atmosphere that spread throughout the region. Despite this disaster, the other three reactors at Chernobyl continued operating until 2000.

The other three reactors did cease operating in 2000. And the site still houses more than 20,000 spent fuel rods. These rods must be constantly cooled, with the cooling system operating on electricity. If the system’s electrical power source were to malfunction, the spent fuel rods could become exposed to the air and catch fire. This would release radioactive materials into the atmosphere. Once released, the radioactive materials could again spread throughout the region and beyond, as they did in 1986. This is a low-probability but by no means a zero-probability scenario.

On March 3, the Russian miliary also took control of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, the largest in Europe. According to a March 4 report on NPR, “Russian forces repeatedly fired heavy weapons in the direction of the plant’s massive reactor buildings, which housed dangerous nuclear fuel.” All military actions at or near the plant create further danger of the plant’s operations becoming compromised. As with Chernobyl, this could then lead to radioactive materials being released into the atmosphere.

Nuclear disasters at both Chernobyl and Zaporizhzhia are therefore active threats right now. In addition, the war is compromising the security systems that operate to protect both sites. The fact that both sites have become combat zones means that they are more vulnerable to attacks from non-state actors, including terrorist organizations of any variety. The aim of such organizations in breaching security at Chernobyl or Zaporizhzhya would almost certainly include gaining access to materials that would enable them to produce homemade nuclear weapons. At the least, they would be positioned to threaten the release of radioactive materials.

Labor Against War in Ukraine Webinar

War in Ukraine: reflections and proposals for internationalist union action

By Simon Pirani - Europe Solidaire Sans Frontières, March 31, 2022

From the Solidaires Union web site. These notes from the Solidaires Union bureau set out its approach to building solidarity with Ukrainian working-class resistance to Russian military aggression. They are a useful starting point for discussion.

This statement is based on the assessment made during the Solidaires national board meeting in March, the contributions of our member organizations, the work of our international commission, and inter-union exchanges both nationally, through the inter-union CGT/FSU/Solidaires, and internationally, through the International Labour Network of Solidarity and Struggles. All of this has also been fuelled by the exchanges and reflections held within larger unitary frameworks in which we take part. [1]

Beyond producing assessments and analyses, union commitment is about action. The following proposals are based on the international work that Solidaires has been doing for years and are expressed in the initiatives, connections and publications of recent days. They aim to respond – on the basis of concrete actions and not useless polemics – to the sectarianism displayed by some statements from other trade union organisations, and especially to the hypocrisy of government and employers’ declarations.

The introductory statement to the debate of the national board the 9th March recalled the position of the Solidaires union from the first day of the war (actually even before the start of this war, since all that follows is part of the tradition and practice of internationalist unionism that we try to implement):

□ The immediate withdrawal of Russian troops – the right of peoples to self-determination – the need for an immediate ceasefire and for building a negotiated peace – supporting people fighting against war, especially in countries at war – the dignified and massive reception of all refugees, regardless of their origin, and the fight against all inequalities and discrimination – taking part, on our own terms, in mobilisations and demonstrations for peace – (joint) participation in the initiatives of solidarity with the Ukrainian people, such as the “union convoy” which aims to provide Ukrainian workers with relief supplies – denouncing nationalism and capitalism as the causes of war – internationalism, as an alternative to nationalism – fighting to end tax havens – the urgency of an ecological transition towards the end of the massive use of fossil fuels.

Youth Strikes Worldwide Demand Climate Action That Centers 'People Not Profit'

By Jake Johnson - Common Dreams, March 25, 2022

"We live in a broken system, one where the richest 1% of the world population are responsible for more than twice the pollution as the poorest 50%. That's why we strike."

From Dhaka, Bangladesh to Turin, Italy and beyond, youth climate strikers took to the streets across the globe Friday to demand that political leaders stop ignoring the scientific community's deafening alarm bells and take action to slash carbon emissions before it's too late.

Organized by the international Fridays For Future movement, the latest mass demonstrations stressed that worsening global class inequities and the climate emergency are deeply intertwined and must be tackled together—a message encapsulated in strikers' rallying cry of "People Not Profit."

"We live in a broken system, one where the richest 1% of the world population are responsible for more than twice the pollution as the poorest 50%," Iris Zhan, campaign coordinator for Fridays For Future Digital, said in a statement. "That's why we strike today to demand climate reparations to kickstart a transformative justice process in which political power returns to the people."

As Fridays For Future organizers put it in their preview of the new global strikes, "Climate struggle is class struggle."

End the addiction to fossil fuel- support the Ukrainian resistance

By Alan Thornett - Red Green Labour, March 24, 2022

Putin’s merciless invasion of Ukraine – which is his next step in the restoration of the Russian empire – has been stalled by the remarkable popular resistance that has been mounted against it. The southern port city of Mariupol is been flattened by Russian artillery and is facing a humanitarian catastrophe but has refused to surrender. On the other hand, the invaders have been pushed back on several fronts.

The Ukrainian resistance has relied heavily on both Western economic sanctions and Western military aid including hand-launched anti-tank and surface to air missiles without which Putin’s blitzkrieg might have been unstoppable. The economic sanctions have not just put Putin under pressure at home, but they have given the population the confidence to resist such an overwhelming force.

As the Russians have met much stronger resistance than they expected they have resorted to ever more indiscriminate, long-range bombardment of the civilian population with missiles launched from ships in the Black Sea and from Russia itself. The result of which has been a rapid escalation of civilian casualties. Putin has thousands of planes and missiles, of course, and could wipe Ukraine off the map. But whether that would be politically sustainable (or survivable for him at home) is another matter.

Russia is now a brutal kleptocracy, with Putin as the new Stalin. Anti-war demonstrators facing up to 16 years in jail and opposition politicians, who oppose war, driven into exile. Ten million people, a quarter of the population, are internally displaced and with almost five million already refugees abroad. Many thousands, mostly civilians, are dead. EU countries, to their credit, have opened their borders, suspended visa requirements, and taken in millions of people. This is in sharp contrast to Boris Johnson’s miserable Little Englander government that has been running around in circles in a (very successful) attempt to give refuge to as few people as possible.

How can the climate and anti‑war movements come together?

By Christian Zeller - Red Green Labour, March 23, 2022

Translated from the German- originally published here.

Exit from the fossil economy and rearmament, solidarity with the Ukrainian resistance

We live in a time of abrupt turns. [1]

Global warming is accelerating. The climate is changing faster than previously thought. The Russian war of aggression against Ukraine is largely aimed at the territorialconquest of a neighbouring state, the destruction of its army and the overthrow of its government. [2] This is something that has not existed in Europe in this way since 1945.

Even before this assault, the NATO countries, Russia and China started an arms race. The antagonisms between the various imperialisms intensified enormously. [3]The wave of rearmament that was already being prepared and launched before the war in Ukraine is an expression of intensifying competion for access to scarce resources that are so urgently needed in connection with the energy transition.

Global warming, this war and the danger of wars to come are interconnected and should be understood in a common context.

An alternative energy strategy to stimulate rapid transition

By Andrew Simms and Freddie Daley - Rapid Transit Alliance, March 21, 2022

All around the world, governments’ energy policies are at a crossroads. In order to insulate themselves from dependence on Russian oil and gas, tackle rising living costs and enact sanctions against Vladimir Putin, governments are collectively clamouring to diversify their energy supplies.

This will be easy for some nations, but more challenging for others. In the UK, Russian gas made up less than 4% of the total British gas supply in 2021, while in Germany just over 30% of primary energy input, across coal, oil and gas, comes from Russia. The varying degrees of dependence present both challenges and opportunities for the low carbon transition. 

The UK government is expected imminently to publish its Energy Strategy that will set out how it intends to reduce the nation’s reliance on energy imports and speed up the transition to net zero. It will be a test case for an economy still heavily hooked on fossil fuel use but with huge untapped renewable energy potential and an economic ‘levelling-up’ agenda for its regions that could benefit greatly from investment in low carbon transition.

Appeal by the independent labor unions of Ukraine

By Oleg Vernyk - International Socialist League, March 18, 2022

To the workers of the world: we need your help!

The Independent Trade Union of Ukraine “Zakhist Pratsi” is directly involved in the resistance to the invasion by Russian imperialism. We are fighting along side the working class and the Ukrainian people on various fronts of resistance. Some organizations of our union, such as the “Zakhista Pratsi” miners’ union at the “Selidov-ugol” firm, are protecting us and our future with weapons in their hands and in the most difficult conditions of the hostilities. Many activists of our union are now resisting the rocket and bomb attacks of the Russian troops, supporting the difficult conditions of the bomb shelters, saving their children and their families from certain death.

The war unleashed by Vladimir Putin united the trade union and labor movement in Ukraine. The invaders were counting on a quick lightning victory and on being accepted by Ukrainians as “liberators.” However, they met rejection and resistance everywhere. They failed to win the support of the Russian-speaking population of eastern Ukraine, who faced the Russian army as invaders and bravely resisted the armed aggression for more than 20 days.

We have never had any illusions about the intentions of the NATO bloc in Ukraine. And now we see all its cynicism, which convinced us of the correctness of our criticism of NATO even before the war and of our position against all the imperialist blocs.

Dear comrades of the labor and trade union movement: We know that anti-war mobilizations and actions against Russia’s military aggression are taking place all over the world. Thank you for this support! We are facing a very strong enemy who, desperate due to the popular resistance to its aggression, is willing to transgress the entire framework of international humanitarian law. Therefore, we now need increasingly active international solidarity with our anti-imperialist resistance movement.

We reiterate our labor appeal to the Russian working class and its trade union organizations to stop the aggression of the Russian government and the authoritarian-bureaucratic regime of Putin against Ukraine. And we call on all the workers and peoples of the world, on political, labor and social organizations to mobilize resolutely against the war!

We resolutely oppose the anti-social policy of our government, aimed at the adoption of anti-worker and anti-union laws to please Ukrainian and foreign oligarchs. The armed aggression of Russian imperialist capitalism complicated the direct struggle for workers’ rights, for the rights of trade unions and free workers’ associations. But it set the immediate agenda for the Ukrainian labor movement: stop the Russian armed aggression against Ukraine!

Our classist trade union “Zakhist Pratsi” defends the demands of the working class against the interests of national oligarchic capital and right-wing politicians.

Many of our union members have lost their jobs, are on the front lines, were forced to move to other cities or take shelter from bombs in shelters. Our families are doing their best to survive without surrendering to the Russian occupiers. For these reasons, we also urgently need your financial and other aid. Fighting, eating and healing wounds are daily tasks for which we need the support of the world’s frontline workers. Therefore, we appeal to strengthen active solidarity actions with the Ukrainian labor movement and, in particular, with our independent trade union.

Workers of the world, unite!

Global Ecosocialist Network Statement on the Ukraine War

By John Molyneux - Global Ecosocialist Network, March 15, 2022

The Global Ecosocialist Network Steering Committee meeting on the 27 February adopted the following Emergency Statement on the War in Ukraine:

  1. We condemn unequivocally the Russian invasion of Ukraine and express our solidarity with the suffering people of Ukraine and anti-war protests in Russia.
  2. We oppose NATO escalation as disastrous for both the people of Ukraine and the people of Europe.
  3. Modern war and modern war machines run overwhelmingly on fossil fuels. They are major carbon emitters and catastrophic in terms of their impact on the environment as a whole including biodiversity and this war also reinforces the danger of continued dependence on oil and gas fossil-fuels.

This statement was ratified By a large majority by our International Members Meeting on 13 March and now becomes the statement of the Network. We recognize its limited ‘minimalist’ character but we wanted to make a statement that would command the support of the broad majority of our members.

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