Tackling Climate Change

This climate change motion being submitted by Ealing Association to the National Union of Teachers  conference next Easter.

Conference congratulates the work done by union officials on the basis of existing policy by, amongst other things,  supporting protests called by the Campaign Against Climate Change,  securing a joint-union fund from DEFRA to train workplace ‘green reps’ and organising NUT training days. We also recognise the many steps being taken by members in schools to both educate young people about the causes of and threats from catastrophic climate change, as well as taking practical steps to lessen our carbon footprint. 

Conference welcomes the Save Vestas campaign during the summer of 2009 which saw the environmental and trade union movements working closely together for the first time, as a model of unity in action that we want to encourage and see more of in the future.  In particular, the Save Vestas campaign has brought onto the wider agenda the need for collective, class-conscious solutions to the issues. It has also exposed the shallowness of governmental commitment to both renewable energy alternatives, such as wind power, and green job creation, despite the targets set in its Climate Bill.

However, Conference also believes that the union has to intensify its own work against climate change, in terms of both policy and action, as part of the wider workers’ movement.  

For example, we need to thoroughly scrutinise the energy solutions being promoted by government such as the switch to bio-fuel production, the reliance on untested Carbon Capture and Storage coal plants, renewed investment in nuclear power and carbon trading. We also need to challenge any reliance on the private sector to create green jobs and develop sufficient energy provision from renewable and carbon-negative means.

Conference further believes that action on these issues requires the maximum of unity across the trade union and environmental movement, such as at Copenhagen in December 2009.

Conference therefore instructs the executive to:

  1. Affiliate to the Campaign against Climate Change, and the wider Stop Climate Chaos umbrella organisation.
  2. Develop with such campaigning groups educational materials for schools that teachers can use to teach about the issues underpinning climate change and how to tackle it.
  3. Continue to develop green reps in associations and schools and CPD events that address the full range of issues related to climate change.
  4. Support the call for a million new green jobs and 10% carbon emission reduction by the end of 2010.

NUT fringe meeting report

The CCC fringe meeting at NUT conference on Saturday went very well indeed. Phil Thornhill, Christine Blower (deputy general secretary) and myself spoke to around 40 delegates, and there was a very positive and interesting discussion. Following that meeting, we have now received pledges from senior officials within the union for help with ensuring that climate change will feature on the main agenda of our next annual conference.

If any of you are organising fringe meetings at your own union conference, please send in a brief report of how it went, and also let me have a list of email addresses of any delegates who wish to be added to our e-list.

In Manchester, we are going to produce a local version of the Heathrow Demo leaflet (which can be downloaded from http://www.campaigncc.org ) with details of our coaches. If you are able to do this for your own area please let me know. Also, please let me know of any union contingents that you know will be attending the demo.

An issue which might well arise when you raise Heathrow expansion in your union branch is the effect on jobs. Some union leaders have argued that we need to expand Heathrow in order to compete with other European hub airports in Amsterdam, Paris and Frankfurt, and that if we don’t build a third runway tens of thousands of jobs might be lost. My response to that would be that competition never benefits workers, and that instead of competing with our brothers and sisters in those cities, we should be fighting alongside them to resist all airport expansion, across Europe and beyond.

Our government was more than happy to nationalise Northern Rock in order to protect the interests of financiers; perhaps they should consider nationalising the airports in order to protect the livelihoods of those who work in them – by for example cutting hours of work instead of jobs; and by providing retraining and redeployment (with no loss of pay or worsening of conditions) into sustainable industries such as rail. I think this would be a better union response than just going along with the bosses’ drive for ‘competitiveness’ regardless of the environmental cost of doing so.

I am confident that we may well win the campaign to stop the third runway. If we do so it will give a huge boost to all campaigns against airport expansion, including here in Manchester, but also internationally. So please do try your very best to ensure a big union turnout on the 31st May.

Fringe meeting at NUT conference

 Download the CACCTU flyer for the NUT conference fringe meeting.

NUT CACCTU leaflet