‘System change, not climate change’

Delegates backed a motion on trade unions’ role in finding solutions to the climate emergency

Delegates at national delegate conference raise blue voting cards above their heads

“This is a crisis that all trade unionists and every person should be angry about.” That was how Tony Wright introduced a motion on climate change for the NEC and UNISON’s national delegate conference in Brighton this week.

“Climate change is already affecting every aspect of what our members do. Public services are huge carbon emitters,” he continued.

“We use the full might of public funding to ensure that our public-sector contracts are used to commit to a just transition.

“We cannot continue to let the most disadvantaged countries and communities bear the brunt of this crisis.”

Mr Wright asserted the importance of trade unions in tackling the crisis.

“We are at a tipping point: trade unions and our members have a vital role to play in ensuring a just transition to net zero.”

The debate saw delegates highlight the health and safety implications of working in ever-higher temperatures, while the country is seeing more and more rain every year.

The need for the union to look at its own carbon footprint was also raised, while speakers observed how young people understand that the world needs “system change, not climate change”, and that retired people have “retired from the workplace, but not from the fight,” emphasising that the issue engages the entire population, irrespective of age.