On June 29th, the International Program for Labor, Climate and Environment, in partnership with 32BJ, Trade Unions for Energy Democracy, and Rosa Luxemburg Siftung – New York, hosted a one-day climate summit. The summit brought together unions from the U.S. and 12 other countries for a day of discussion on the Paris talks and related actions; the international trade union movement’s program and strategy and the need to confront the ‘energy and climate emergency,’ and to hear how unions are linking climate protection to the anti-austerity and equality movements that are gaining momentum in different countries.
Had Lynas attended the alternative people’s summit at the COP 20 climate change talks in Lima last year, he would have heard a succession of speakers from Latin America’s indigenous communities rejecting development models imposed on them by transnational capital. They are in the frontline of the fight against climate change and are struggling to stop the destruction of their environment by mining and mono-crop agriculture for export. They would not see themselves in terms of left or right, but fully understand that an economic model based on infinite growth, with the commensurate depletion of the planet’s natural resources, is incompatible with saving the Earth from the catastrophic effects of global warming.
This does not mean sufficient energy cannot be provided for the needs of future generations, but that it must be responsibly sourced and publicly owned instead of being left to market forces and monolithic corporations whose priorities lie in ripping off consumers and making money out of burning fossil fuels. As an energy trade union, we support the necessary, just transition to a low-carbon economy, and are members of the global network Trade Unions for Energy Democracy. As the slogan read in Lima: “Let’s change the system – not the climate.”