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How green is your workplace? It's time we all found out

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Meeting the challenge of the climate emergency means taking action to reduce our carbon footprint at work.

How big is the carbon footprint of your workplace? More importantly, what simple steps could you take to reduce it?

Today, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), of which the TUC is a proud member, has declared a Global Day of Action to Climate Proof our Work.

The objective of the day is simple: to promote a conversation between union reps and their managers which leads to concrete steps, however simple, to reduce energy.

Doing so could save money, provide for a better and more productive working environment, and make a small contribution to saving the planet.

Of course, if all workplaces were to make a small contribution, the overall effect would be anything but.

Paris Agreement

To give some background, the 2015 Paris Agreement sought to limit the increase in global temperatures.

The aim was to keep this increase at well below two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and to try to keep that increase at 1.5 degrees Celsius. The TUC strongly supported the agreement.

The difference between two degrees and 1.5 degrees doesn’t sound like much.

The evidence, however, suggests otherwise: the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), established by the United Nations in 1988, is clear that a half degree more of warming would result in more poverty, more extreme heat, a higher rise in sea levels, more habitat loss, and more drought.

Last year, the IPCC warned that we have just 12 years to limit the increase to 1.5 per cent. Last month the UK parliament declared a climate emergency.

It has led to Greta Thunberg and her inspiring band of school strikers across the world.

And it has led the UK government to adopt the target of the UK’s own Committee on Climate Change (CCC) for ours to become a net zero economy by 2050.

'Just transition'

Achieving these targets is ambitious and neither the IPCC nor the CCC sugar-coat the implications of meeting them. They imply a major reduction in fossil fuels and a much greater use of renewables.

As the voice of people at work, the TUC is at the forefront of the campaign for a ‘just transition’ to a green economy.

As jobs supported by fossil fuels reduce, we seek a great new job for every worker in the new world of work.

With the right policy mix and the political will, we see no reason why this cannot be achieved.

Are we doing enough?

Alongside these big industrial changes, however, there are many things we can do in our everyday lives to reduce global warming.

Most of us now recycle glass, paper and plastic. But are we doing enough? And could those companies and organisations for whom we work do more?

Today, the TUC publishes our green quiz.

This asks simple questions about our workplaces. Do they use as much recycled materials as they could? What about low energy lighting? The quiz also asks some questions about what “green” looks like.

Please take the quick and easy quiz and find out if your organisation is doing as much as it could.

But most importantly, whether you are a union rep or not, have a conversation with your manager about your carbon footprint at work and make simple commitments to reduce it where you can.

Tomorrow’s generation, in the UK and across the world, will thank you for it.

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