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Floods, climate change and job cuts

By Martin Empson - One Million Climate Jobs, December 28, 2015

In 2015 Britain has seen repeated flooding causing large-scale damage. Tens of thousands of people have had to evacuate their homes, suffered days without power and seen their homes and businesses destroyed as storms repeatedly hit the country. In the latest bout of flooding, thousands of people in Manchester, Leeds and York have been hit, sometimes with the worst floods ever, as rivers broke banks.

Trade unions that represent workers in the emergency services have repeatedly warned of the impacts of austerity measures on their ability to deal with flooding and other severe weather.

Unison, for instance, which represents workers at the Environment Agency, reported how cuts would reduce its ability to prevent and respond to flooding and tidal surges. In 2012/13 the grant was £124 million less than in 2009/10.

Staff numbers at the Agency have been reduced by around 1000. The November 2015 autumn statement pledged that the Agency would have its funding for flood defences “preserved”, but the rest of its budget would decrease by 15%. The government claims that it is protecting front line services that respond to emergencies and help prevent flooding, but cutting behind the scenes staff and resources hit the ability of workers to deal with crises, and the ability to make long term plans for future, worsening, weather.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has also highlighted the way that cuts will affect its ability to respond to emergencies such as flooding. In response to the most recent floods the FBU said that “threats posed by such large scale floods are beyond the capacity of local services to cope. The impact of massive cuts to funding of the country’s fire and rescue service is being felt by all firefighters, including those who are aiding flood rescue.”

Simon Hickman, Manchester FBU Brigade Organiser, whose members were on the front line dealing with floods in Salford said, “We’re stretched to the limit with the lack of resources due to the cuts, and we’ve just been told that £15.8 million is to be cut locally. It is bad enough this time but it will be far worse next time. We had 56 fire engines available, the majority were committed to incidents. Yet we are told we may be cut down to as few as 30 at night time, which will remove any resilience in the future”.

Even Coastguard services have been cut back.

Prime Minister David Cameron has expressed sympathy with victims, and celebrated the work of the emergency workers. But his government’s policies have made the situation far worse. Back in 2011, the then Tory-Liberal coalition government announced an 8 percent cut (£540 million) in spending on flood defences. Government policies that favour the fossil fuel industry, such as fracking, will only increase emissions leading to further climate change and more frequent floods.

The government is well aware of the increased risks of flooding because of climate change.  Almost a decade ago, in 2006, Nicolas Stern wrote an extensive report into the economic impacts of climate change for the then Labour government which warned that “Infrastructure damage from flooding and storms is expected to increase substantially” unless there were flood management policies that could avoid this. In purely economic terms, Stern saw the situation as getting far worse as global warming increased, warning that

“The costs of flooding in Europe are likely to increase, unless flood management is strengthened in line with the rising risk. In the UK, annual flood losses could increase from around 0.1% of GDP today to 0.2 – 0.4% of GDP once global temperature increases reach 3 to 4°C.”

These floods are not “unprecedented” they are the new norm. Climate change means that we are going to see more frequent and more extreme flooding. In order to protect lives, homes and businesses we need to reverse the cuts to emergency services and the Environmental Agency and increase funding.

We also need investment that can reduce the impact of climate change. Writing in The Guardian, environmental campaigner George Monbiot has shown that planting trees can help the soil absorb water. Rather than cuts, we should be creating jobs that can save lives, protect property and reduce the impact of climate change.

But we also need to drastically reduce emissions of greenhouse gases that cause climate change. This is why the Campaign against Climate Change, with seven national trade unions, and the National Union of Students are calling for One Million Climate Jobs. The creation of such jobs, through investment in renewable energy, insulation schemes, public transport and energy reduction could reduce emissions from the UK by 86% in twenty years. The trade union movement recognises that climate change is no longer an abstract discussion, but a reality. Dealing with it can help create jobs and improve society.

In 2014 David Cameron told flooded communities in the South-West that “money was no object” in helping them recover from that year’s floods. In 2016 we must hold him to that statement and demand the sort of investment that can prevent future disasters.

After Paris: A Global Movement for Climate Jobs

By Jonathan Neale - Global Climate Jobs, December 18, 2015

This post looks at the results of the Paris climate talks, and says what the climate movement and the social movements need to do next, how climate jobs fit into that, and what you can do to help build a campaign for climate jobs in your country.

The Paris Climate Talks

Many have hailed the result of the UN climate talks as a breakthrough, for two reasons. One: all of the countries of the world signed an agreement about climate change. Two: there are some good abstract hopes in that agreement.

But there are also concrete promises about emissions. Some countries have promised to cut emissions by a little in the next fifteen years. They may, or may not, keep their promises. Many more countries, with more emissions, have promised to increase their emissions by a lot. Taken together, these are promises to increase emissions every year between now and 2030. That’s the bottom line. (For the details, see our earlier post, Paris: World Promises to Increase Emissions.)

What We Need to do Now

The good news is that we have a growing and increasingly radical global climate movement. And the organisations who think the agreement is a breakthrough also think it is only a beginning. In addition most people in the climate movement saw the result of Paris coming, so we do not have a demoralised movement.

As we return from Paris, it is clear that the leaders of all the countries in the world have failed us. They did so because nowhere did we have the political and social power to make them take decisive action on climate. So now we have to build that power, country by country. The only force we have on our side is seven billion people. We have to mobilise them.

This will not be an easy or quick task. We all know that. After all, we need cuts of 80% in global emissions, as soon as possible. That means deep changes in energy use and society.

Two kinds of campaigns will be central. One is fighting to leave the coal, gas and oil in the soil. There will be a global day of action against fossil fuels in May; national campaigns; local resistance to pipelines, new mines, new drilling, new power stations, extreme energy, fossil few sponsorship, and investments in fossil fuels.

The other kind of campaign will be to build an alternative. If we are to leave the fossil fuels in the ground, we have to do four things. We need to replace fossil fuels almost entirely with renewable energy. To do that we need renewable energy for all our electricity. We need a switch from cars to public transport, and almost all transport run on renewable electricity. We need conversions of all homes and buildings to save energy, and then to heat and cool all buildings with renewable electricity. And we need to protect and extend the great forests.

We need to do thousands of other things, but those four things will make most of the difference. All that will take a lot of work – we estimate at least 120 million new jobs worldwide each year for 20 years. This is what we mean by ‘climate jobs’ – jobs that have a direct effect in cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

(For more detailed explanation in English, French or Spanish, see our booklet on Global Climate Jobs here.)

Moreover, we want government climate jobs programs to ensure a retraining and a permanent job to anyone who loses a high carbon job during the transition. That is only fair, and if we don’t do it we will split unions and communities.

‘We need social ownership and democratic control of energy’

By Tabby Spence - New Internationalist, December 16, 2015

The dust has settled in Paris, where hundreds of thousands of delegates, journalists and activists spent the last two weeks buzzing around on little sleep and carrying heavy agendas. Despite the news of a ‘historic, world-saving agreement’ flooding the airwaves, tens of thousands flooded the streets on Saturday to express grief, despair, anger, defiance, and a commitment to continue strengthening the climate justice movement. According to the activists, who were literally drawing massive red lines through central Paris (and in other places around the world), the Paris Agreement permits governments to cross many important red lines representing the basic requirements for a just and liveable planet (you can see more detailed analysis on just how bad the deal really is here).

Given the decades of international meetings not yielding any cuts in greenhouse gas emissions (but rather growth by 63%), most of the civil-society groups were prepared for another epic failure at COP21. Yet many of these groups are developing strategies to drive scientifically adequate and historically fair transformations at local and national scales. A diversity of groups are working to remove the social licence of polluting corporations, the legality of company fiduciary duty over human lives and ecological systems, and the political and economic incentives granted to climate-warming industries.

While some of these groups have gained notoriety on social media for their creative actions, trade union groups and allies have been working quietly and diligently in their own locales to develop rapid phase-out plans for fossil fuel-emitting industries and vamping up renewables, as well as increasing energy efficiency in buildings, and reducing emissions in transport, food production and other important areas.

Jonathan Neale of the One Million Climate Jobs campaign in the UK explains, ‘These plans aim for a just transition – with the public creation of the climate jobs needed, a training programme for people leaving fossil sectors and moving into the new industries, and guaranteed work with decent pay for working people.’

Members of the Global Climate Jobs campaigns active in South Africa, Norway, Canada, the Philippines, the UK, New York State, and Mauritius held a number of workshops over the duration of the two weeks in Paris to explain how the existing campaigns in particular national contexts were developed, and to offer support for people who want to begin climate-jobs campaigns in their own countries. New campaigns are being launched in countries all over the world as a result of these discussions.

Trade Unions for Energy Democracy (TUED), like many of the climate jobs campaigns, emphasize the need for the jobs created to be public-sector jobs, and for the carbon-free energy, transportation and housing to be affordable and accessible for all.

The way forward is with ‘social ownership and democratic control of energy’, Sean Sweeney, founder of the Global Labor Institute, said at a sold-out event in Paris, titled ‘Now is not the time for small steps: solutions to the climate crisis and the role of trade unions’. Clara Paillard, who is the National Executive Secretary of the UK-based Public and Commercial Services Union, elaborated, emphasizing that addressing climate change is too important to be left to the market, and that the transition needs to be managed across scales by the public, not for short-term, private gains.

Leader of the British Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn and renowned writer and activist Naomi Klein joined for the lively conversation of the crucial link between the imperatives for social, economic and political transformation in the context of a warming climate. One of the panellists, leading trade unionist Josua Mata of Sentro (Philippines), posed one of the most salient and challenging questions: ‘If the deal is going to be so bad, why don’t we just reject it? Isn’t no deal better than a bad deal?’ Naomi Klein’s response was that, even if we want to, we don’t get to reject it.

The lack of democracy and the hold of powerful countries and interests over the international processes means that the local and national scales are the actual planes at which we can operate to bring about large-scale changes.

Many of the climate-jobs campaigns are gaining traction and, thanks to the tireless work of trade unionists, allies and other organizers for social justice, it looks like we may see large-scale 'operationalization of the first climate-jobs campaign in Canada within the year. The strategy of developing transitional blueprints on national or local scales, with an aim to put power back into the hands of the public, may be the best bet we have to massively rejig the world as quickly and democratically as possible.

There are no jobs on a dead planet

By John Evans - Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD (TUAC), December 6, 2015

A structural shift to a low-carbon economy will entail gains in jobs, but also losses, and the first jobs to be lost are not those that you think. A just energy transition will be needed, but how? 

Climate action is a trade union issue. That is why the international trade union movement under the umbrella of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), working closely with us at TUAC, is prioritising our advocacy on climate issues. From the protection of jobs and livelihoods that are in the front lines of climate change impacts, to organising new quality jobs in the emerging green economy, to fighting for what we refer to as a “just transition”, so that workers gain and are not left behind when their sectors move to achieve a zero-carbon world. Climate change is clearly an immense challenge for workers and their families globally, but so is the transition. Practical policy solutions and targets that reinforce and go beyond COP21 will be needed.

Make no mistake: climate catastrophes and extreme weather conditions, including cyclones, floods, drought, fires, melting glaciers, season changes, threats to agriculture and more, are increasing and impacting working people everywhere.

In the United States, Hurricane Sandy left 150 000 workers displaced and employment was overall reduced by 11 000 workers in New Jersey alone in 2012. In Bangladesh, Cyclone Sidr disrupted several thousand small businesses and adversely affected 567 000 jobs in 2007. Typhoon Haiyan that hit the Philippines in November 2013 affected around 800 000 workers, with their source of livelihood damaged or displaced overnight. The effects of these weather events rippled through international supply chains, affecting workers in other countries.

Over the next 10-15 years, we will face ever more serious impacts across the board, which will destroy whole communities and their jobs, if not their lives. The disruption will be socially and economically destabilising across whole regions, and will be worse than anything we have witnessed so far. That’s what catastrophic climate change means, and unless we prevent it, then decent work, social protection and rights for all will remain an illusion, particularly for the most vulnerable.

Much has been said about the potential for climate action to deliver on job creation. The trade union movement has strongly supported this enthusiastic view. We will certainly see jobs created in renewable energy, energy efficiency, public transport and organic agriculture among others. They may even outnumber those which might be lost in sectors that are not compatible with fighting climate change. The question of their quality (in terms of wages, benefits and working conditions, unions have launched a dedicated organising strategy to ensure that the jobs we consider critical for the future bring gender impact, etc.) remains to be assessed. Still, trade unions have launched a dedicated organising strategy to ensure that the jobs we consider critical for the future bring together the social and environmental dimensions of sustainability.

Leave no one behind

All economic sectors must change. But if there is something we can learn from past economic transitions since the Industrial Revolution, it is that they have been far from fair in terms of social justice. Some might think: then there is no need to do things differently and all should just stay the same. This is a false and dangerous assumption. Governments face opposition to climate action. Often it is from actors with vested interests. Sometimes opposition comes from working people who are afraid of losing their jobs or part of their income. It is an understandable fear. However, it can be addressed and resolved. Trade unions are convinced that a proactive, fair approach to this transition can accelerate change and keep us on course to stay below the 2°C limit. We want to see the transition happen on the ground with investment in skills and lifelong learning, income protection and other social protection measures for workers in sectors hit by climate policies. We believe that dialogue and participation have to be ensured to secure workers’ involvement in the design of future jobs and adequate funding for transforming local economies and communities.

And COP21 in all of this? For the ITUC and TUAC, COP21 must respond adequately to these challenges. An agreement in Paris needs to ensure that country commitments are reviewed through an effective process so that the gap in emission reductions is absorbed fairly and quickly.

COP21 needs to make clear that financing commitments to the most vulnerable countries are not being given away as charity, but are the logical and considered international response to climate change and how it risks both undermining the development progress these countries have made in the last 20 years and hampering their ongoing efforts to achieve prosperity and decent work for all. Finally, COP21 needs to send a political message to workers: not only will governments commit to achieving a zero-carbon world, but they will also commit to a “just transition” for all workers concerned.

These three policy imperatives are still on the negotiating table. The way in which they will be addressed in December will be a crucial indicator in judging the final outcome.

For the labour movement, climate change is a challenge that puts everything we care about at risk. Workers must be fully involved in shaping that “just transition”, in which their rights and prosperity are paramount and where they are able to build and decide their own future. Workers need strong policies on climate. Low climate ambitions would be a social progress killer.

The French government told us a big lie, and we believed it

By Jonathan Neale - Global Climate Jobs, December 8, 2015

After the killings in Paris, the government immediately banned all public demonstrations under a state of emergency. They told the climate coalition we could not march. That seemed to make a sort of sense to most people in the climate movement. Isn’t it terrible, we said. But most people in Paris thought they understood why the French government was doing it.

Except, when the Charlie Hebdo killings happened earlier this year, the French government called for a massive demonstration. No one – not one person in the world – suggested that demonstration interfered with security.

And I have been in Paris for a week. This is not a city under martial law, or a state of emergency. Police presence is light – hardly noticeable in most walks of life. In reality only one thing is forbidden in Paris – protesting to save the world’s climate.

The French government did not want a march of 500,000 in Paris on November 29. They saw their chance. They forbade the march. They used the deaths of all those people to stop us trying to save hundreds of millions more. Most of us were sick at heart, and shaken, and some of us were afraid. So they fooled us.

Why did they do that? Because this COP will end with an agreement that will make sure that global emissions rise next year, and in 2017, and in 2018, and in every year until 2030. At the end of the COP on Saturday the French government, the American, the Chinese, and all the rest, plan to trumpet that disaster in triumph across the world. To do that, they had to make sure we were not heard.

The French government have also ordered us not to demonstrate on Saturday at the end of the COP. But we have decided: we will protest together on Saturday in Paris. We hope you will protest or hold vigils – whatever you can do – across the world, to say this is not the end of the planet, we will fight on, in the living hope that we will win.

There will be trade unionists on that demonstration too, for many reasons. But one of them is that the right to free assembly, the right to meet in groups of more than two, the right to protest, is bedrock for trade unionism. Without those rights, working people cannot defend themselves.

Please join us.

At COP21, unions sow the seeds of labor to yield green jobs

By Blake Deppe - People's World, December 3, 2015

Photo: Left to right - Clara Paillard, Tony Clark, Andreas Ytterstad. | Blake Deppe/PW

PARIS: As the UN Climate Conference (COP 21) continues, the Trade Union Forum on Climate and Jobs debuted today at Climate Generations. Trade unions gathered with their allies and with one another to discuss the ever-looming dark cloud that is climate change, and how to find a silver lining within it, by creating clean jobs that sustain the labor movement and reduce or eliminate harm to the environment. While that's no easy task and there's a long road ahead for workers and activists, labor leaders presented real plans and logical solutions.

The key word today was "transition," and the ensuing question was, how do workers prepare for the adjustments that will have to be made as the world moves away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy? It was a question that had to be asked, and the Trade Union Forum, an event that began today and which will last through Dec. 7, did just that. First posing that query were members of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), who shared an assessment report based on their research to reaffirm, once again, that climate change is a real and portentous threat.

Sustainable future a prerequisite for progress

"Climate change is real. The consensus on this is stronger than the consensus that smoking causes cancer," said Jonathan Lynn, head of communications and media relations for the IPCC. "World public opinion has shifted and there is now a greater understanding of this. So a pathway for a sustainable future is a prerequisite for progress. We have to have greener jobs, but at the same time, they have to be unionized and made available to those who become displaced from other work. But we've pissed away a lot of the time we had, and now our window to do this is closing. Unfortunately, there's a lot of money to be made in destroying the planet. Companies like Exxon or people like the Koch Brothers will not deliver a sustainable future."

On the other hand, those who possibly can bring about such a future took center stage as the next phase of the forum, Climate Jobs Now, began. Here, union leaders spoke about the One Million Climate Jobs Campaign, organized by the Campaign Against Climate Change trade union group and supported by eight national unions. Its goal is to create one million green jobs, which would help shift the energy industry to one based on renewables and clean alternatives and which could kick-start the economy.

#ClimateChange and the fight for #ClimateJobs

By the Admin - A Green Trade Unionist in Bristol, December 1, 2015

Author's Note: This is a talk I prepared for a NEON (the New Economy Organising Network) event to prepare for Bristol Climate March:

Climate change as we know is the most serious long-term challenge facing both our society, and our planet in general.  We are on the verge of reaching the point of no return, the tipping point beyond which catastrophic warming of the planet will be unavoidable, and the habitability of our world serverely undermined.

But as well as a challenge of almost unimaginable horror, climate change is also an opportunity.  As Naomi Klein has recently persuasively argued Climate Change can provide movements for social and environmental justice with a ‘collective lens’, a shared conceptual framework, sense of purpose and set of arguments for moving beyond the extreme Free-Market Capitalism (conventionally labelled NeoLiberalism) that is so impoverishing both our planet and our communities.

For decades the arguments of the alter-globalisation movement – that Free Market fundamentalism was causing spiralling inequality and social stratification – have fallen on death ears.  We now know those exact same policies have greatly exacerbated our excessive consumption of resources and our output of greenhouse gases, endangering life as we know it.

It also presents an opportunity in terms practice solutions it requires.  I don’t want to understand the scale of the problem and the response it needs.  To do our part in preventing catastrophic climate change the few decades we have left to actually do something about it, we need to rapidly transition to a zero-carbon economy.  Tinkering around the edges with carbon trading, taxes and offsetting just won’t cut it.

The amount of carbon already in the atmosphere means that even if we stopped polluting tomorrow we’ve still locked in considerable warming, we have to act now to prevent temperature rises above 2 degrees (which would have extreme consequences across the world).

We need to cut CO2 emissions by around 75-80%.
We can achieve this if we cut our energy usage by half (very achievable with an aggressive program of energy efficiency and home insulation – Britain has the worst insulated homes in Europe, which contribute to an estimated 20,000 death every winter, as well as huge amounts of wasted energy) and supply at least half of that energy from renewable sources.

This will mean the end of many jobs in polluting and fossil fuel dependent industries (an estimated 350,000).  But it will also require millions of new jobs in building new infrastructure, renewable energy, home insulation, public transport and energy efficiency.  The Campaign Against Climate Change, have created a rough blueprint laying out how this might happen.  They estimate that nationally we need to create 1 Million Climate Jobs to do all this work.

What kind of "just transition"?

By Michael Ware - Socialist Worker, December 1, 2015

The climate justice movement knows what it is against, but what are we fighting for? Michael Ware, of System Change Not Climate Change, has some answers:

EVERYONE BUT a few Republican crackpots now acknowledge that the planet faces a climate emergency. But the bosses at ExxonMobil had a bit of a head start.

A company memo was unearthed this year showing that the oil giant knew since 1977 from its own scientists that burning fossil fuels contributed to global warming. But the findings were hidden, and Exxon continued to be climate change deniers for decades to come.

This revelation speaks volumes about how short-term profits trump everything under capitalism, even human survival. Exxon's research pointed toward what we are living through today: increased temperatures globally, drought, mass flooding, more intense hurricanes, crop failures, extinctions, melting polar regions, rising sea levels, ocean acidification, water scarcity, and on and on.

Already, climate change causes 300,000 to 400,000 deaths per year, mostly in the Global South, according to a study conducted on behalf of the UN several years ago.

In order to keep the increase in global temperatures under 1.5 degrees Celsius by mid-century and avoid catastrophic environmental changes, greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced by 5-10 percent each year. Already, the global temperature increase has been almost 1 degree Celsius.

The emergence of a green capitalism sector, increased energy efficiencies and limited expansion of renewable energy have done little to bring down the estimates of average temperature increases. Without a radical change of course, the increase will be between 4 and 6 degrees Celsius by the end of the century.

Clearly, just educating politicians and business leaders about the threat isn't enough. We need movements and protests strong enough to force big changes in the way humans produce and consume energy.

The urgency around halting climate change creates a unique political dynamic. The need for social change is always urgently felt by the oppressed, but for the first time, we have an environmental timer showing that the huge task of transitioning to a sustainable world must take place in this century, or humanity will face the consequences of an inhospitable planet.

Fighting for this kind of change will necessarily threaten capitalism. Yet it's hard for most people to envision a world without corporations, car culture, oil wars, oppression and a market for everything, including pollution.

Tim Norgren: Letter to Labor

By Tim Norgren - Special to IWW Enviornmental Unionism Caucus, October 16, 2015

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

Fellow workers:  

In considering extreme-method fuel extraction and export: the danger of spills, water contamination, explosions, wild fires, the devastation of  fishing, farming, tourism, and manufacturing economies, and climate crises are troublingly relevant. Similarly the claims by project supporters that fuel passing through these terminals is for domestic use, or to “end our dependence on foreign oil”  is a disturbingly hollow lie; while it may yet be refined in America, the product is primarily bound for overseas markets.

Yet what most drives me to comment now is how the industry and even some of our own leadership continue to divide and manipulate the populace with mantras of “good jobs vs. the environment”. That supposed opposition is a fabrication. In fact “profits for the wealthy vs. the environment, public safety, AND workers” is far more accurate.

I began my construction union career building wind turbines. We also build and maintain solar farms, hydro dams, and public transportation networks. For a while we joined the Blue-Green Alliance, and even trained workers in weatherization of homes and buildings, a new business for us.

One potentially huge line of work is to build manufacturing design and production centers for consumer goods and technology. Intel’s recent expansion, for example, is now in its fourth year of renewed construction and has provided a multitude of jobs at any given time. As technology excels into the realm of sustainability there become many more opportunities in these “new” areas (energy storage, retrofits, production centers, etc.) for projects that will benefit all of us.  And of course electric cars can tear up roads and bridges like any other, so highway work remains a steady bet. This is all happening while dwindling supplies (leading to extreme extraction methods), popular resistance, and divestment leave the fossil industry with a dim future.

Yet recently our leaders decided to scrap new opportunities to pursue fossil export projects instead. In doing so we find ourselves aligning with such dubious entities as the Koch brothers, and the American Legislative Exchange Council. These powerful advocates for dirty fuels, fracking, climate denial, and OPPOSITION to renewable energy projects we work on are also the forces behind virulent attacks on unions such as “right to work” bills, and attempts to lower the minimum wage (www.alecexposed.org)

If this “jobs vs. the environment” rhetoric succeeds in dividing us, then we'll indeed have a few new projects, though they rarely stand up to their hype. Pipelines, for example, are divided into sections so as to be finished quickly, providing only 4-6 months of employment to a given set of local workers, while out-of-towners dominate about half of the work (as taught in the recent class for Laborer’s stewards preparing for the “Pacific Connector” proposal, should it go through). But when those jobs are over, the fuels will continue to be fracked and extracted, with taxpayer-funded subsidies and predominantly nonunion miners and roughnecks, often destroying indigenous and municipal water supplies, and run through our neighborhoods and forests in oft-leaky pipelines,  uncovered train cars and explosive tankers, further profiting the enemies of labor as they're shipped overseas to provide cheap fuel for death-trap factories where subsistence workers slave at jobs outsourced from safe, emission-regulated, living-wage employment in America and elsewhere!

Indeed as Industrial and other jobs are replaced with government-subsidized resource extraction, export, and privatization schemes, across the board from fossil fuels and lumber to such basic staples as water, education, the post office, and social services, we see in our mirror a third-world nation.

We can and must overcome that, and lead the way to a sustainable infrastructure and a sustainable economy. We need to offer a more solid resistance, to reign in globalization efforts like the TPP, which undermine our manufacturing base and the construction and maintenance that goes with it, and which allow companies to circumvent the rights and protections which the labor movement has sacrificed sweat, blood and LIVES to attain and defend for all of us. And we need to recognize these raw-material extraction-for-export and privatization projects as a symptom of that globalization. If we fight for these new jobs and to keep the industry of sustainability local, WE WILL GET THEM! Many want us to succeed and will back us up, including non-construction unions, railroaders, and many other activists.

Can Autoworkers Save the Climate?

By Lars Henriksson - Jacobin, October 2, 2015

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

At the COP 19, the even-more-depressing-than-usual climate summit that took place in Warsaw in 2013, one small ray of light made it through the dark corporate clouds that were otherwise suffocating even the slightest effort to address the ongoing environmental disaster.

On the last day of the conference, an unusual alliance was formed as environmental organizations and trade unions together walked out of the venue under the banner of “Enough Is Enough.” Sick of the meaningless talks, they stated:

We are now focusing on mobilizing people to push our governments to take leadership for serious climate action. We will work to transform our food and energy systems at a national and global level and rebuild a broken economic system to create a sustainable and low-carbon economy with decent jobs and livelihoods for all. And we will put pressure on everyone to do more to realize this vision.

If not entirely unique, this action nevertheless promised a new hope for a climate movement that never recovered after its (greatly exaggerated) expectations cruelly disappointed at the summit in Copenhagen four years earlier. The relationship between trade unions and environmentalists has often been strained, if there has been one at all. More often than not, those claiming to defend the earth and workers’ rights are operating at a crossroads, sometimes colliding in head-to-head confrontation — especially when jobs are pitted against environmental interests.

I found myself in that squeeze when the financial crisis hit the auto industry in 2008. The previous year, Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, and climate change topped worldwide headlines. But with the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers and the auto industry in free fall, the climate crisis quickly disappeared from general discussion, even more so among auto-industry workers. Profits (disguised as “jobs”) were the main issue, not the complicated and distant phenomenon of global warming.

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