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School students taking part in today’s climate strike are an inspiration

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They are taking to the streets to fight not just for their own future, but for all generations to come.

Britain currently feels like a divided nation. But they remind us that the only way to solve the climate crisis is for people to unite.

Trade unions have pledged our support. We know that climate change is the biggest free market failure in history. And we are organising campaign actions in workplaces all around Britain.

We are proud of a generation of young people with such values and convictions. It inspires hope that the future can be safe in their hands.

But my fear is not how safe the planet will be with them – it’s how safe it is now, with us.

Unless there is faster action from those of us in positions of power and responsibility today, the planet they inherit will already be too deep in the danger zone.

We all know the bad news. People suffering today in the global South, harrowing images from nature documentaries, and global figures like Trump and Bolsonaro who are ready to let the planet burn.

But there are reasons to be positive too. Stopping runaway climate change is Mission Possible.

The Energy Transitions Commission says that even for the hardest to decarbonize sectors, most of the technology we need already exists. The challenge is deploying it fast enough and in ways that puts people first – not profits.

This is not a job for government alone. Nor business. It needs working people and unions too. And it needs urgency.

Last week at our annual Congress, trade unions agreed a proposal to make this happen. We are calling for a national commission to plan a just transition to a net zero economy.

It would be cross-party. Select committees have shown how effective MPs can be at building consensus on big issues that affect us all. And it would include representation from business, trade unions and consumer groups so we all have a seat at the table.

Whether you’re a business owner, a worker in a high-emissions industry or a family worried about your bills, someone who understands you would sit on the Commission. And they would speak up to make sure the plans are fair.

We can create a nationwide green industrial strategy with the new skills and infrastructure we will need to transform the economy and reach net zero.

We can embed principles of social justice in the transformation. If people have no voice and no stake, they resist change. We mustn’t repeat the mistakes of the past. Top of the agenda must be good green jobs and a new deal for working people. 

And most important of all, we can make sure that when today’s school students become leaders of unions, business and government, the planet is still safe and habitable for all the world’s people.

We are asking government and business leaders to support the proposal for the Commission based on these core principles. It’s time to roll up our sleeves and meet this challenge together.