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Climate Change

Climate change affects all of us, not only as consumers but also as workers. The construction, building materials, forestry, and wood industry, employing around 200 million workers, play an important role in contributing to and reducing CO2 emissions. Deforestation is the second largest source of carbon in the atmosphere.

Buildings are responsible for about 8% of global CO2 emissions and their use increases their contribution upwards of 40%. However, without any doubt, the construction and wood industry can deliver a substantial contribution to the reduction of greenhouse gases and the problem of global warming. We are part of the solution.

Climate change, which is considered to be one of the most threatening environmental problems of the 21st centruy affects all of us, as consumers and as workers. According to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), climate change “may be attributed directly or indirectly to human activity” which changes the composition of the atmosphere in addition to the natural climate changes in certain periods.

Adopted in March 1994, the UNFCCC gives the global framework for governments to tackle the challenge posed by climate change.

To date, 196 countries have ratified this convention.

The BWI participated on 14 September 2015 in Paris at the ITUC Trade Union Climate Summit under the theme: No jobs on a dead planet!.

In view of the above summit, the 3 Federations BWI, EFBWW and NFBWW wrote a publication, which has made recommendations towards a Framework to Combat Climate Change in the Construction, Building Materials, Forestry and Wood Sectors: a worker’s perspective

  • As a recognized Agenda 21 civil society group, workers and their representatives should be included in climate change discussions at all levels.
  • Comprehensive and coordinated capital and industrial planning of the investments proposed by the IPCC are required to keep temperature increases within the 20 threshold. Simply because something can be sold for a profit doesn’t mean it will provide for the general welfare in a carbon constrained world.
  • Austerity budgets should be replaced with significant public investments and loan programmes, aimed at reducing carbon emissions and promoting social justice funded by carbon based tax systems based on the polluter pays concept and capital transaction or wealth taxes. A portion of the revenues should be allocated to assisting geographic areas with the largest at-risk populations to become climate change refugees adopt new carbon reduction/mitigation/adaptation technologies.
  • The WTO must recognize the need to promote and protect locally based carbon reducing technologies (especially in terms of building energy retro-fitting) and exempt firms who advance culturally sensitive, lower carbon alternatives.
  • Carbon abatement technologies must be shared with the world, and workers need to receive adequate vocational training to use carbon abatement technologies immediately.
  • All public sector tenders should include requirements for calculating carbon reduction options as well as full compliance with ILO core labour standards and be given equal weight with traditional costs in determining the competitiveness of all bids.
  • National central banks and international development banks should follow and require all receiving funds to follow the core labour standards of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and develop carbon reduction specific additions.
  • Uniform building codes and standards need to include carbon abatement and emission reduction targets immediately. Existing buildings should be retrofitted as quickly as possible.
  • Public procurement systems, as well as all firms receiving public funds, should mandate that all wood fibre products are sourced from sustainably managed forests from either of the two international forest certification schemes (FSC, PEFC) until such time as a legally binding agreement, whose standards exceed the existing voluntary forest certification standards of the two systems, is ratified by a majority of nations.
  • Carbon calculations must be developed that take into consideration where the product or services are consumed as well as where they are produced, and the share of carbon emissions allocated accordingly.

    The BWI reminds you of its publication. You can downloaded it in various languages:
  • Towards A Framework to Combat Climate Change in BWI Sectors: A worker’s perspective (English version)
  • Towards A Framework to Combat Climate Change in BWI Sectors: A worker’s perspective (Swedish version)
  • Pour un cadre visant à combattre le changement climatique dans les secteurs du bâtiment, des matériaux de construction, de la sylviculture et du bois: le point de vue des travailleurs (Français)
  • Hacia un marco de lucha contra el cambio climático en los sectores de la construcción, materiales de construcción, la madera y la silvicultura: perspectiva de un trabajador (Español)
  • Für ein Rahmenwerk zum Kampf gegen den Klimawandel in der
    Bau- und Baumaterialbranche sowie der Holz- und Forstwirtschaft: Die Sicht der Arbeitnehmer (Deutsch)