14 September 2019 05:37


Whether the Global Climate Strike becomes a footnote in history or the turning point in our efforts to win a just transition to a sustainable economy is up to each and every one of us. We need to act and make sure that the climate strike becomes a turning point in our efforts to win a just transition towards a sustainable economy. Nothing else will do.

“We have no choice,” stated BWI General Secretary Ambet Yuson. He continued, “We have to stand up and join the strike and make our voices heard around the world because we cannot just go to work and allow this opportunity to go unrealized. All I can say is that on September 20th, I and my children will be on the streets with millions of others including BWI affiliates around the world to save this planet.”

The struggle for a just transition to a sustainable global economy continues. This demand made by BWI, along with the other global union federations, indigenous peoples’ groups, youth, and NGO’s at the Paris Climate Accord was first ignored by corporate and national representatives. The costs of their failure to respond to our demands for a just transition has increased every day as evidenced by the rise of extreme weather event fatalities, more days of weather-related dangerous work, and a rapid increase in climate refugees.

The BWI believes it is important to ensure that the livelihoods of all workers in our sectors, that contribute to the carbon imbalance are part of the equation in addressing the climate crisis. Just transition means that government and companies commit to invest in the creation of decent jobs for workers whose jobs will be eliminated. Just transition means that all workers are offered retraining and new jobs that are equivalent terms and conditions covered by collective agreements. Just transition means vocational and skills training programs must sufficiently tool all workers to find jobs in a new sustainable economy. Just transition means that trade unions must be at the table as workers are at the heart of just transition. We need to make sure that no worker is left behind.

At COP23 in Paris, most governments made a pledge stressing that a just transition and creation of decent work and quality jobs are crucial. But since then, the voice of organized labour has hardly been taken in account in determining the National Determined Contributions (NDC)s.

Within this context, student’s whose future is being mortgaged by inaction are seeking to find their voice and make themselves heard. The Global Climate Strike is just one example of their efforts to be heard. BWI applauds these efforts and endorses their struggle and this action. In the week of 20-27 September, the BWI and its affiliates will stand up and join the series of events that will are being planned and led by young people to fight the climate crisis.

Yet, from experience we know this will not be sufficient. What is needed is a global coalition of workers, student’s, farmers, and those most at risk from rising sea levels and temperatures. This coalition must be based on the recognition that it is not individual market failures that are casing carbon and other GHG pollution but rather the global market mechanism itself and the neo-liberal policies that support it.

We must keep the governments to the pledge they made in the Solidarity and Just Transition Selesia declaration at the COP 24 in Katowce, and not allow them to be side-tracked by employers willing to destroy the future for profits today. How many times must we listen to them say it is too expensive to take the drastic action required to spare a majority of the world’s population from the suffering to come. The students in the vanguard of this fight see that for what it is: the destruction of their future. A future where their voice is not heeded.

For our members in the natural resource industries this issue is especially important. Vibrant forests are critical to the future of the planet. Wood products which are renewable and whose components store carbon for centuries must be an important portion of the solution moving forward. The sustainable forestry of the future must be worker and community focused. It is possible to have strong rural forest-based communities, decent work, and a sustainable economy. In fact, it is the only way.

What you can do

1. Join the events that are planned starting, 20 September and continuing through 27 September. To see if any events are planned near you go to: https://globalclimatestrike.net

2. Take a Photo with the sign hereunder and spread it via social media.