After Paris – A Global Movement for Climate Jobs

arc de triumph protest
climate protest, Paris, 12 December

This post looks at the results of the Paris climate talks, and says what the climate movement and the social movements need to do next, how climate jobs fit into that, and what you can do to help build a campaign for climate jobs in your country.

The Paris Climate Talks

Many have hailed the result of the UN climate talks as a breakthrough, for two reasons. One: all of the countries of the world signed an agreement about climate change. Two: there are some good abstract hopes in that agreement.

But there are also concrete promises about emissions. Some countries have promised to cut emissions by a little in the next fifteen years. They may, or may not, keep their promises. Many more countries, with more emissions, have promised to increase their emissions by a lot. Taken together, these are promises to increase emissions every year between now and 2030. That’s the bottom line. (For the details, see our earlier post, Paris: World Promises to Increase Emissions.)

What We Need to do Now

The good news is that we have a growing and increasingly radical global climate movement. And the organisations who think the agreement is a breakthrough also think it is only a beginning. In addition most people in the climate movement saw the result of Paris coming, so we do not have a demoralised movement.

As we return from Paris, it is clear that the leaders of all the countries in the world have failed us. They did so because nowhere did we have the political and social power to make them take decisive action on climate. So now we have to build that power, country by country. The only force we have on our side is seven billion people. We have to mobilise them.

This will not be an easy or quick task. We all know that. After all, we need cuts of 80% in global emissions, as soon as possible. That means deep changes in energy use and society.

Two kinds of campaigns will be central. One is fighting to leave the coal, gas and oil in the soil. There will be a global day of action against fossil fuels in May; national campaigns; local resistance to pipelines, new mines, new drilling, new power stations, extreme energy, fossil few sponsorship, and investments in fossil fuels.

The other kind of campaign will be to build an alternative. If we are to leave the fossil fuels in the ground, we have to do four things. We need to replace fossil fuels almost entirely with renewable energy. To do that we need renewable energy for all our electricity. We need a switch from cars to public transport, and almost all transport run on renewable electricity. We need conversions of all homes and buildings to save energy, and then to heat and cool all buildings with renewable electricity. And we need to protect and extend the great forests.

We need to do thousands of other things, but those four things will make most of the difference. All that will take a lot of work – we estimate at least 120 million new jobs worldwide each year for 20 years. This is what we mean by ‘climate jobs’ – jobs that have a direct effect in cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

(For more detailed explanation in English, French or Spanish, see our booklet on Global Climate Jobs here.)

Moreover, we want government climate jobs programs to ensure a retraining and a permanent job to anyone who loses a high carbon job during the transition. That is only fair, and if we don’t do it we will split unions and communities.

 What You Can Do

We are building national campaigns for climate jobs, country by country. This is where we need your help.

Going into the Paris climate talks at the end of November we had seven national climate jobs campaigns established or starting up, in Philippines, Mauritius, Norway, Britain, Portugal, South Africa and Canada, and one local campaign in New York State.

(To contact any of these existing campaigns, look here.)

Seven of the existing campaigns are built on strong union support. Four also have strong support from environmental groups. At Paris two of them took political steps forward. Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the opposition Labour Party in Britain, publicly endorsed the British One Million Climate Jobs campaign at a rally of 800 people. And the Canadian campaign brought together an impressive coalition of organisations to press Trudeau’s new government to hire 200,000 workers a year for five years, to cut Canadian emissions by 25% in 5 years. (See in French here Forum-Backgrounder-2015-12-03-FR and in English here Forum-Backgrounder-2015-12-03-EN.)

We held six meetings on climate jobs in Paris, and spoke at several more. We were able to speak at length with people who are now committed to trying to build climate jobs campaigns in another seven countries. We think most of them will succeed at that in the next year.

The eight existing campaigns have a pretty good idea of what they are doing. In the next year, they have two jobs. One is to build active support in the unions and across society. The other is to begin to make a difference, one way or another, in the national political conversation. Because climate jobs is not a good ‘program’ – it is something we want governments to do.

Global Climate Jobs is the network of all the national climate campaigns. What we want to do is to build national climate jobs campaigns in as many countries as possible. There are two reasons. One is that the more of us there are across the world, the stronger we feel. The other reason is that the key breakthrough for a global solution will come when one country actually wins a government climate jobs program that provides very large numbers of new jobs and cuts emissions by 80% or more. After that, we will all be following a living example. So we need to try everywhere we can.

Those national campaigns will be built, in the first instance, by small groups of people in each country. If you want to help, wherever you are, write to us at globalclimatejobs[at] Tell us a little bit about yourself, 10 to 30 words, so we know how to put you in touch with each other. We want to hear from you if you are a national union official, but also if you are just a person who cares.

We urge you to build campaigns that are built on wide support, that include at least some strong trade union base, and that are not the project of only one political party or one NGO. We may have to start small, but we want coalitions that can eventually change a country.

We will also arrange regional climate jobs workshops in the next eighteen months. Our tentative list is:

West Africa
East Africa
Southern Africa
Southeast Asia
South Asia
Latin America
North America (Canada, Mexico, US and the Caribbean)

Please write to us if you want to be involved with organising one of these, or if you have more ideas.

Finally, we will try to send a speaker to workshops, public meetings or panels anywhere in the world – if your organisation can raise the fare.

As new campaigns are built, we will help put you in touch with people from existing campaigns who have experience or technical expertise you can use.

(For much more technical reading, look here.)


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