1 October 2021

Let’s use our collective strength to help save the planet

With the COP26 happening in Glasgow next month, DWP rep Paul says we must fight for jobs that support a healthy environment and a society that is going to deal with climate change

Climate change confronts us here in Yorkshire and Humber. We continue to suffer from moorland fires and significant floods – all connected to climate change. It’s one of the many reasons why I am passionate about doing something. It affects all of us – including my kids.

Regular media articles don’t translate into meaningful action from government or the huge corporations. More locally, the attitude is similar – lots of talk and little done. I work in the Department for Work and Pensions, where there is loads of discussion about sustainability champions and targets – but where is the real action? We need much more than words and ‘green washing’.

My branch moved the motion at DWP conference to ensure our group executive has discussions on climate change and holds the employer to account.  But that means a campaign that integrates the immediate needs of members, such as pay, working environment and safety with the broader issue of climate. The employer must not be allowed to hide behind “sustainability” to drive through their own cost-cutting agendas.

Our regional committee has already agreed to encourage members to come to the demonstration in Sheffield taking place on 6 November. The 26th United Nations Climate Change “Conference of the Parties”, (COP26) takes place in Glasgow but we are keen to get involved.

We will also be supporting the Youth Fight for Jobs march on 9 October in Leeds. This is crucial as all young workers and students need jobs and they want rights and decent pay at work. But it is also about the type of jobs that are available – those that support a healthy environment and support a society that is going to deal with climate change, so they have a future.

Some large polluters – energy companies, corporations reliant upon global supply chains and banks – have taken to sponsoring COP26, so they can pose as concerned but are really trying to ensure that their profits are protected. Meanwhile, huge price hikes rip off our members. We must not be taken in by this.

We and the broader trade union movement must play our part in increasing pressure on world leaders to take decisive action and use our collective strength to force change.

COP26 gives us an opportunity to do that – a huge mobilisation that can be felt in every corner of the world demanding action to save the planet and for a just transition. We must mobilise now.