All the world’s eyes are on the UK this year, as Glasgow prepares to host the COP26 international climate talks. The UK government hopes to demonstrate global leadership on climate change by setting science-based targets to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions.
Targets are essential. But for targets to become reality, real action must start in every workplace.
Across the UK, union reps are already leading the green industrial revolution.
Union reps worked with bakery chain Greggs to introduce energy saving training to staff across the chain.
Union reps worked with EDF to provide placements, upskilling, and other support to staff at a closing coal power station, helping workers with a smoother move into new, clean power generation jobs.
What needs to happen next?
The UK Government’s official Climate Change Committee has made clear that the bulk of climate action must happen in the decade leading up to 2030, with 68% carbon emissions reductions (on 1990 levels), followed by 78% by 2035, and bringing the UK’s emissions to Net Zero by 2050.
Net Zero means that the small residual emissions will be compensated through natural solutions – restoring forests, peat land, and sea grass meadows - and through carbon capture, use and sequestration (CCUS) technology.
The world’s eyes are on the UK this year as Glasgow prepares to host the COP26 international climate talks.
Many workplaces can significantly reduce their carbon footprint right now, for example by:
maximising every worker's right to flexible working,
making sure buildings and appliances are energy efficient,
repairing and refurbishing equipment and furniture instead of buying new, and
activating a Cycle to Work scheme.
If you work in an office, hospitality, culture, retail, educational or health setting, your workplace can in all likelihood meet government targets for emissions cuts ahead of time. If done correctly, this can also have many benefits for you and your colleagues (e.g. flexible working rights, cleaner air). But it is key that workers have the opportunity to shape the process, contribute their ideas and protect their interests.
Many energy-intensive industrial workplaces face more significant changes. Car manufacturers need to be prepared to produce zero-emissions vehicles. Zero-emissions steel and zero-emissions ferries are beginning to be manufactured in other countries, but not yet in the UK. Cement, chemicals, shipping, and aviation industries all have a lot of research and development to do to get on the technological pathway to Net Zero.
It will take a concerted effort, with initiative and investment from business and government, to future-proof our industries. And the voice of workers is essential to ensure a just transition.
What can you do next?
Whatever industry you work in, beginning a conversation with your employer about climate change is the first step.
We have developed a short online course to help you start the conversation: click here to start
But this is only the beginning. We want to hear what resources you would like from the TUC on climate change and just transition. In the following months, we hope to offer more short online courses, webinars and network opportunities.
Please fill out this survey to tell us what support you need: click here
Finally, put the ITUC day of action to Climate and Employment Proof Our Work (CEPOW) - 22 September 2021 - in your union branch calendar. If you fill out the survey above and leave us your contact email address, we can keep you up to date with preparing for the day of action.
For more in-depth resources, check out:
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