Pan Europe: Unionists plan more joint actions to address “borderless” climate crisis

Over 30 trade unionists from BWI affiliates in Pan Europe came together on 27 January for an online climate change workshop and discussed the impact of the climate crisis to industries and workers’ rights in the region. 

Trade union leaders from Austria, Georgia, Montenegro and Turkey shared their experiences and various initiatives in responding to climate change’s impact on the world of work. The unions’ responses vary from engagement in governments’ climate programs, such as in Austria, to union mobilisations in Turkey to raise public awareness on issues of sustainable forestry. The participants agreed that joint trade union actions are important as the climate crisis knows no borders. 

Coen van der Veer, BWI Regional Representative in Pan Europe, stressed that the workers and industries’ just transition to a more sustainable development framework is crucial in addressing the future of work. 

“We acknowledge the changing nature of work with the advent and use of new technologies and digitalisation. For workers, this means that there will be a demand for new skills and jobs, even as many jobs will disappear. The union’s goal is to ensure a just transition for workers considering all environmental and labour challenges,” he said.  

BWI Global Campaign Director Paola Cammilli concluded the workshop by outlining BWI’s global strategy on climate change. She emphasised that the climate crisis and the need for a just transition to a green economy are key issues that must be thoroughly deliberated in BWI’s Global Congress this October.  

“It is clear that all of us are being confronted by the reality of climate change. This workshop has demonstrated that a lot of knowledge already exist within our group. We need to gather all of our accumulated knowledge and best practices to design a clear action plan in time for our Congress,” she said. 

The industries where BWI are present and active at are some of the world’s major greenhouse gas emitters. The global construction industry alone accounts for 39 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, while the forestry and related land use industries account for 6 percent.