Trade unions urged to be the first on the barricades in the global defence against climate change

Mary Robinson delivers keynote speech at 13th Statutory Congress of European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) in Paris on 1 October 2015.

“To realise climate justice, we need the power of the union movement. We need an unprecedented global solidarity movement” stated Mary Robinson, President, Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice, during her keynote address  to 500 national trade union delegates at Stand up in solidarity for quality jobs, workers, rights and a fair society in Europe in Paris.

Urging members of the ETUC to mobilise, Mary Robinson reminded the audience that due to their power, unions have a critical role to play in realising climate justice, “I see climate change as the single greatest threat to the hope of achieving a fair society. Similar to so many issues that unions fight for, climate change is truly cross cutting. Left unchecked, it will impact on all aspects of our lives, and crucially, climate change will exacerbate existing inequalities and social divides.“

“Addressing climate change requires countries and citizens to act in solidarity – that treasured, central tenet of the union movement – to create a better world for future generations. In Paris, we have a rare opportunity to shape a new beginning. If we are careful to inform this transition with the values we share, including human dignity, respect for human rights, gender equality, fairness and solidarity – we can hand that better future on to our children and grandchildren” said Mary Robinson.

The ETUC’s 13th Congress took place from 29 September from 2 October 2015 in Paris and involved trade union delegates including the General Secretaries and/or Presidents of some 90 national trade union organisations from 39 European countries and 10 European sectoral trade union federations.

During the Congress a number of leaders took part in a photo action with a giant sign reading ‘Our jobs depend on our planet’ and ‘Climat et emploi, même combat’ (climate and jobs, same struggle).

Commenting on the action, Bernadette Ségol, General Secretary of the ETUC said “Trade unions are making a clear statement on behalf of workers on the world’s gravest environmental and economic threat”. Meeting in the same city just weeks before the UN Climate Conference, trade unionists are today sending a message to world leaders that we expect them to reach a binding and ambitious climate deal.”

Related Links

Mary Robinson’s Keynote Speech at the 13 Congress of the ETUC

European Trade Union Confederation – 13th Congress 

ITUC Frontlines Briefing – Climate Justice: Unions4Climate Action 

What is a Climate Justice Narrative? Sharan Burrow explains

Zero Carbon, Zero Poverty – The Climate Justice Way

Sharan Burrow speaks at the Bridge to the Future campaign