The battle against austerity is vitally important. However, it is clear that the battle has also seen environmental issues slip way down the agenda - somehow climate change doesn’t seem quite as important when set against pay and pensions.
However, environmental issues are more vital than ever. As the government backs off from its green agenda, the urgency of combating climate change grows more imperative with the scientists now issuing alarming warnings that the 'tipping point' - that is, the point at which global warming becomes out of control - is but a few years away. Indeed, many are saying that the planet is heating up far more quickly than had been thought.
In the UK, this is being experienced with the recent cold weather and rain, as the jet stream varies due to the ice caps melting.
It is therefore vital that environmental issues are kept on the agenda and it was pleasing to see motion A93 passed overwhelmingly at PCS national conference (for details, see here).
Green issues are, in fact, directly linked to austerity. It is and will be workers and the poor who will suffer most. This has already been seen from Sri Lanka to New Orleans. In the UK, flood damage has disproportionately affected those struggling with austerity, as they cancel house insurance etc.
The Green New Deal and the One Million Climate Jobs campaigns present a sustainable and realistic alternative to austerity. Real pressure should be brought to bear to realise these ideas. Many countries are turning to sustainable alternatives to coal and gas while our government stops subsidies and authorises fracking – a particularly environmentally damaging process. No wind turbines, for example, are built in the UK (remember Vestas on the Isle of Wight?) Investment here could create jobs and reduce our reliance on fossil fuel.
So what can we do?
- Ensure your branch has a green rep and is signed up to the PCS green newsletters
- Support local campaigns on fracking and environmental concerns
- Look at the Transition Town movement – looking to make communities carbon neutral.
- Support the 1 million Climate Jobs and Green New Deal campaigns – lobby your political representatives.
Simple changes we can all make also have a cumulative effect:
- Use the car less, walk or cycle
- Grow food; it’s amazing what can be grown in the smallest of spaces
- Recycle and reuse
- Many communities have free cycle schemes
- Best of all consume less - use libraries instead of buying books, for example
Let us know what is happening in your branch and community so we can share best practice. We only have one planet and it is down to us to make sure it is there for the future.
The next green reps forum for Wales will be announced soon.