You are here

Climate Strike

Our Strategy for Avoiding Total Catastrophe

By collective - Earth Strike UK, October 2023

Our mission is to achieve a world in which humanity is not in constant competition with itself or with the environment, to halt the rapid deterioration of our biosphere and to live in a world that is not on the brink of ecological collapse. In order to do that we must end capitalism and all other forms of oppression and exploitation which are the cause of injustice and threaten the stability and viability of our environment.

We believe that collectively we have the ability to bring about that better world through the power of organised labour and the application of industrial action. Through strikes, occupations and other forms of industrial action over environmental issues in our own workplaces we can have a direct, tangible impact on the trajectory of our climate. By employing those same tactics on a massive scale, across industries and across countries, we can launch a direct challenge to capitalism and the institutions that are driving the climate and ecological crisis.

With this in mind, we aim to promote, support or initiate general strikes for the climate nationally and internationally, as well as employ industrial action in defence of the climate more generally, and to create foundations of solidarity and mutual struggle on which we can build a better and more sustainable society.

However, organising a general strike for the climate is no easy task. We could simply set a date and call a strike but without a broad base of support, a mandate given by all of the people actually striking, it is unlikely that enough people would be willing to take the risk and participate. To be able to build a general strike that is actually effective there are a few things that need to happen first. It is not enough to simply mobilise, first we must organise!

There are several conditions that need to be met for a general strike for the climate to become a viable option in the struggle for climate justice. These conditions do not necessarily need to be fulfilled directly by Earth Strike UK. Our aim is not to be the banner under which all action should be taken, but to facilitate and encourage action that moves us towards a general strike. In fact, it is better if these conditions are fulfilled by a variety of groups, organisations and movements working independently and in parallel with one another, as this will lead to a more broad, dynamic and robust movement. There are several elements to our strategy.

None of them are mutually exclusive and any action that reinforces one is likely to reinforce others. Importantly, each strand of our strategy is also an end in itself; each will individually improve the world in a tangible way, even if they can’t all be brought together to materialise a general strike.

Download a copy of this publication here (PDF).

Labor Rise at End Fossil Fuels Demo

By Ted Franklin - Labor Rise, September 18, 2023


Labor Network for Sustainability contingent at Sacramento, California climate emergency demonstration. Credit: Ted Franklin CC-BY-NC-4.0

Labor Rise members helped organize a contingent of rank-and-file union members to join hundreds of other demonstrations in the End Fossil Fuels march and rally in Sacramento, California, on Sunday, September 17, 2023. We marched under the banner of Labor Network for Sustainability, a national organization building Labor/Climate movement solidarity. The Sacramento action was one of many in the United States during the international week of action to end fossil fuels. In New York City, where the United Nations gathered for meetings on climate, 75,000 people marched.

In Sacramento, where hundreds gathered, Labor Rise member Martha Hawthorne spoke on behalf of Labor Network for Sustainability:

Amazon Strikes as a Climate Justice issue; Trade Union briefing

'Festival of Climate Resistance': Tens of Thousands Celebrate 'The Big One' in UK on Earth Day

By Jon Queally - Common Dreams, April 22, 2023

"As the government continues to fan the flames of the climate and biodiversity crisis it's clear that only a collective effort can put it out," said the head of Greenpeace UK.

Tens of thousands demonstrated with a defiant yet jubilant spirit in London on Saturday to mark the second day of 'The Big One' climate protests aimed at getting the U.K. government to finally take bold action on the planetary emergency of greenhouse gas emissions.

A nonviolent die-in action was held outside Parliament, but the day of demonstration was billed as a "family-friendly" day of action meant to foster inclusion and participation as opposed to disruption or civil disobedience.

The first signs of an ecological class struggle in Germany

By Franziska Heinisch and Julia Kaiser - Progressive International, March 31, 2023

On 3 March 2023, on the occasion of the global climate strike, a special political alliance took to the streets in Germany: side-by-side, climate activists and public transport workers went on strike. In at least 30 cities, climate activists visited workers’ pickets and brought them along for joint demonstrations. According to Fridays for Future, a total of 200,000 people participated in the nation-wide protests.

The way employers reacted showed that this alliance of workers and climate activists is a potential threat to the ruling class. Steffen Kampeter, CEO of the Confederation of German Employers (BDA), publicly denounced them on the morning of the joint strike day as “a dangerous crossing of the line”. He said that the German service union ver.di was blurring the lines between strikes for collective bargaining and general political concerns, thereby entering the terrain of political strikes. To the delight of campaigners, this accusation contributed to the fact that the joint strike dominated the news that day.

This unity between the labour and climate movement was long overdue: a wider and more affordable public transport system is one of the central measures to achieve socially just climate protection. However, the mobility transition in Germany has so far been made impossible: many employees in local transport work in shifts under terrible conditions and barely make ends meet — with salaries just above the minimum wage. Many therefore decide to quit their jobs. There is already a shortage of tens of thousands of drivers. And this problem will only get worse in the coming years. At the same time, ticket prices are rising steadily and the passenger transport systems, especially in rural areas, are thinned out.

'Tomorrow Is Too Late': Climate Strikers Target Fossil Fuel Financing Worldwide

By Jessica Corbett - Common Dreams, March 3, 2023

"The capitalistic system continuously puts profit over people," says Fridays for Future. "The Global North's fossil finance is the cause of the climate crisis, neocolonial exploitation, wars, and human rights violations."

"It's time to end fossil finance because #TomorrowIsTooLate!"

That's the takeaway message from climate strikers who took to the streets worldwide on Friday to demand an immediate end to the financing of all fossil fuel projects amid a worsening global emergency largely driven by coal, gas, and oil.

"The capitalistic system continuously puts profit over people," the youth-led Fridays for Future movement said in a statement. "Corporations' greed for more profit is driving the destruction of ecosystems and the climate. At the same time, frontline communities are paying the highest price while being the most affected by the climate crisis."

Young Workers’ Trajectory of Climate Consciousness

By staff - Labor Network for Sustainability, February 2023

The Young Worker Listening Project interviewed 70 young workers in all parts of the country about the ways climate change impacts how they do and think about work, and how their work informs their understanding of the climate crisis and potential solutions. They ranged from 16-year-olds who were just starting to think about what kind of work they might do to 35-year-olds with 20 years experience as construction workers, government employees, teachers, and nonprofit workers.

Many young workers shared common trajectories in developing their consciousness around climate change. While most interviewees never received formal education about workers and unions, almost everyone shared memories of learning about climate change as children. Folks talked about recycling and measuring their carbon footprints; watching An Inconvenient Truth; and seeing the news about Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy. Many of them perceived that the scale of the solutions they were being offered didn’t match the scale of the crises they were witnessing. Learning about climate change through the lens of individual responsibility often led to an understanding that urgent action must be taken – combined with feelings of anxiety and depression and a general sense of paralysis.

Generational consciousness-shaping events came up over and over again: 9/11 and the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan; the Great Recession and the Occupy movement; direct action at Standing Rock in 2016, at the Trump Inauguration on J20, in the Youth Climate Strikes, and during the George Floyd uprisings.

Economic and environmental uncertainty have been the backdrop of young workers’ entire lives, and they have an intuitive understanding of how deeply linked these issues are to each other, as well as to issues of racial inequality, militarism and imperialism, and gender equity.

This has led many young workers to seek out education about and participation in collective action. They are seeking economic stability, a sense of community, and the opportunity to effect political change, and have realized worker activism and union participation can provide avenues for achieving all of these at once. This is the foundation of a shared and unrelentingly intersectional analysis that has brought many young workers to the Young Worker Project and on which we hope to build deeper coordination for a powerful labor-climate movement.

Labour and the Global Climate Strike: An interview with Nigel Barriffe

By Spencer Bridgman and Nigel Barriffe - Spring, September 20, 2022

For thousands of years, Indigenous Peoples across Turtle Island have cared for and protected the land and water we all rely on. This is especially true in settler-colonial Canada, where Indigenous Peoples have always been at the forefront of the climate justice movement. Two recent examples of this is the work of the Wet’suwet’en People and the Keepers of the Water. Their calls for climate justice have been amplified in recent years through the blossoming of Fridays for Future: a youth-led, international movement demanding immediate action to address the climate crisis. Under this banner, student strikes have been held across the globe, from Tokyo to Tehran to Toronto. 

This year, a Global Climate Strike is taking place on September 23 and Fridays for Future TO is leading the Toronto action. A number of groups are joining the strike in solidarity, including a Labour and Allies Contingent, who are meeting at Steelworkers Hall, 25 Cecil St. at 12:30pm and will unite with the main march at Queen’s Park at 2pm. 

Spring Magazine spoke to labour organizer and elementary school teacher Nigel Barriffe about the climate strike and the many intersections between the labour and climate justice movements. Nigel is active in a number of roles including as Vice President of the Elementary Teachers of Toronto, President at the Urban Alliance on Race Relations, and a board member at the Canadian Anti-Hate Network and Good Jobs For All

“Total, BP or Shell will not voluntarily give up their profits. We have to become stronger than them...”

By Andreas Malm - International Viewpoint, September 12, 2022

Andreas Malm is a Swedish ecosocialist activist and author of several books on fossil capital, global warming and the need to change the course of events initiated by the burning of fossil fuels over the last two centuries of capitalist development. The Jeunes Anticapitalistes (the youth branch of the Gauche Anticapitaliste, the Belgian section of the Fourth International) met him at the 37th Revolutionary Youth Camp organized in solidarity with the Fourth International in France this summer, where he was invited as a speaker.

As left-wing activists in the climate movement, we sometimes feel stuck by what can be seen as a lack of strategic perspectives within the movement. How can we radicalize the climate movement and why does the movement need a strategic debate in your opinion?

I share the feeling, but of course it depends on the local circumstances – this Belgian “Code Red” action, this sort of Ende Gelände or any similar kind of thing, sounds promising to me, but you obviously know much more about it than I do. In any case, the efforts to radicalize the climate movement and let it grow can look different in different circumstances.

One way is to try to organize this kind of big mass actions of the Ende Gelände type, and I think that’s perhaps the most useful thing we can do. But of course, there are also sometimes opportunities for working within movements like Fridays for Future or Extinction Rebellion for that matter and try to pull them in a progressive direction as well as to make them avoid making tactical mistakes and having an apolitical discourse. In some places, I think that this strategy can be successful. Of course, one can also consider forming new more radical climate groups that might initially be pretty small, but that can be more radical in terms of tactics and analysis, and sort of pull others along, or have a “radical flank” effect. So, I don’t have one model for how to do this – it really depends on the state of the movement in the community where you live and obviously the movement has ups and downs (it went quite a lot down recently after the outbreak of the pandemic, but hopefully we’ll see it move back up).

Finally, it’s obviously extremely important to have our own political organizations that kind of act as vessels for continuity and for accumulating experiences, sharing them and exchanging ideas. Our own organizations can also be used as platforms for taking initiatives within movements or together with movements.

Are Refinery Workers Climate Enemies? - Part 2

By Steve Ongerth - IWW Environmental Union Caucus, May 25, 2022

For context and background, see part one, here. Unlike the first installment, this second response has ommitted the comments that preciptated it, for the sake of clarity, as well as the fact that the author tried to echo the rebutted points in the response. It should be noted that only one individual has expressed outright opposition to showing solidarity with striking refinery workers. It's a foregone conclusion that the overwhelming majority of the IWW does not share this one individual's view.

First of all, let me be clear: my position is that humanity must collectively phase out burning fossil fuels for energy, transportation, and locomotion as rapidly as possible.

That said, nobody seriously believes we can collectively cease burning fossil fuels in a single day, so the likelihood is that the burning of them will continue for some time (I aim to make that as little time as possible).

Regardless of how long it takes, no oil refinery is going to simply shut down just because large masses of people, even 3.5% of the population demand it. It’s not even technically possible, let alone economically or politically possible. Most of the Environmental Justice and Climate Justice organizations (other than a few ultra-sectarian extremists) get this, and they’ve crafted their demands accordingly.

While there’s a degree of variation among the various organizing, most of them call for the following:

  1. No new extraction of new fossil fuel sources;
  2. Rapid phase out of existing fossil fuel sources;
  3. Managed decline of the existing fossil fuel supply chain;
  4. Just transition for any and all affected workers in the entire fossil fuel supply chain;
  5. Repurposing of equipment for non fossil fuel burning purposes;
  6. Bioremediation of damaged ecosystems across the extraction supply chain;
  7. Reparations for the affected communities and tribes.

Supporting refinery workers involved in a strike is not in any way contradictory to the above demands.

Pages

The Fine Print I:

Disclaimer: The views expressed on this site are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) unless otherwise indicated and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s, nor should it be assumed that any of these authors automatically support the IWW or endorse any of its positions.

Further: the inclusion of a link on our site (other than the link to the main IWW site) does not imply endorsement by or an alliance with the IWW. These sites have been chosen by our members due to their perceived relevance to the IWW EUC and are included here for informational purposes only. If you have any suggestions or comments on any of the links included (or not included) above, please contact us.

The Fine Print II:

Fair Use Notice: The material on this site is provided for educational and informational purposes. It may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. It is being made available in an effort to advance the understanding of scientific, environmental, economic, social justice and human rights issues etc.

It is believed that this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have an interest in using the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. The information on this site does not constitute legal or technical advice.