Website URL : http://www.ucu.org.uk/3386||
Find out about UCU's initiative on climate change and how you can become involved.
UCU calls for an investment strategy that prevents runaway climate change
The fossil fuel industry is driving us towards a global climate crisis: we will not keep dangerous climate change at bay without halting our extraction of fossil-fuels. Too many UK universities support the fossil fuel industry directly through their research, their £6bn endowments and investments and their partnerships with some of the biggest fossil fuel companies in the world like BP and Shell. As for pension funds both these companies are also in the top ten investments of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS).
The 'Fossil Free' and 'Green Light' campaigns launched last week and UCU attended both events.
Fossil Free - UCU and the TUC held a meeting with Bill McKibben, the founder of 350.org to discuss the role of trade unions in the broad alliance being established to take this message into the education sector and wider community.
ShareAction The Green Light Report: resilient portfolios in an uncertain world is he first salvo in a campaign of a coalition of groups brought together by ShareAction, including Unison, Unite and the University and College Union. Its purpose is to highlight the need for the pension industry to take a central role in funding the measures necessary to mitigate climate change.
For further information on 'the carbon bubble' and 'unburnable assets' ref
Annual Environment Report 2012-13
Download your copy now: Annual Environment Report 2012-2013 (.pdf) [947kb]
Report from the International Labour Organisation annual conference
The University and College Union attended the International Labour Organisation annual conference. You can read Graham Petersen's report here:
NUS & HEFCE Environment Projects
Those branches who have a UCU environment rep or are interested in running environment campaigns should consider a link up with their student union or officer. The NUS has just received £5 million from HEFCE to run projects in institutions over a 2 year period. NUS see UCU as important partners to secure staff engagement and wider community links. We urge branches to make contact with their student body to identify potential projects. FE students can also apply to this fund if the college runs HE courses and is in receipt of HEFCE funding. Expressions of interest have to be with the NUS by June 5th.
Greener Jobs Alliance Video
UCU has just released a new video produced by the Greener Jobs Alliance which you may find useful as an example of the types of projects we are hoping to encourage. It is based on work done with South Thames College. The video 'Better Choices for a Better Future' is 4 minutes long and examines, through the experience of 4 students, how sustainability can be linked to employability.
Sustainable Development Bill Consulation Response
The Welsh Government has brought forward proposals for a Sustainable Development Bill. If the proposals are adopted they would provide a framework that could point the way for other parts of the UK. They would make sustainable development a 'core organising' principle for public sector organisations. UCU has also called for recognition of the role of trade union environment reps as one of the mechanisms for ensuring that the principle is put into practice. The UCU response to the consultation can be found on this link:
A conference bringing together climate scientists, trade unionists & environmental activists. 11am - 5pm, London Metropolitan University. Download the flyers below for full information.
Energy Bill Revolution have launched a short video that highlights the problems of the 1.6m UK children living in fuel poverty.
You can sign a petition here to make the government use the money it gets from our carbon taxes to make our homes super-energy efficient - driving down our energy bills forever. http://ow.ly/i3Gmc
UCU launches Greener Skills Manifesto
The University and College Union (UCU) has launched the Green Skills Manifesto in conjunction with the Greener Jobs Alliance (GJA).
The manifesto, which will be unveiled at the South West TUC Green Skills conference, calls on the government to urgently invest in training and jobs for the UK's low carbon industries.
The manifesto calls for:
Research published in 2009 by the Aldersgate Group warned that the UK had a green skills gap which was slowing its transition to a low-carbon economy.
Graham Petersen, GJA Co-ordinator, said: "Investing in green skills and jobs is key to solving the current economic and climate crises. This manifesto is an important starting point for the UK to achieve its stated aim of the transition to a low-carbon economy."
UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: "With unemployment at a record high there is huge potential for growth in our low carbon industries which can generate thousands of new jobs and opportunities for young people. With other countries investing in their low carbon industries we cannot afford to be left behind.
"Our college and universities are uniquely placed to provide people with the (delete) green skills training but they must be given the necessary funding to do so."
Report from the climate talks in Durban
TUC Green Reps Survey 2012
We need your help. The UCU has been one of the most active unions on environmental issues in the last few years. We train more Environment Reps than any other union. We have the largest number of reps of any other union. The last time that the Labour Research Department conducted a Green Reps survey on behalf of the TUC we had the 2nd highest response rate.
Please circulate this survey to any rep or branch officer who can provide an update on the state of play in your institution. The information will be invaluable for providing an overview of current performance in this crucial area of working life. The information will be collated and form part of an LRD pamphlet scheduled for May, 2012. This pamphlet will be an important resource for UCU branches.
UCU at the climate talks in Durban
Graham Petersen, the UCU Environment Co-ordinator, has been attending COP17 as a delegate with the International Trade Union Confederation. You can read his diary from his trip below.
Wednesday 30 November
The reports in the UK media about the prospects for the Kyoto Protocol are echoed here. The UCU supports the 3 key demands of the ITUC for a new climate deal:
2. Climate Finance
3. The International Labour Organisation and a Just Transition
Maximum pressure needs to be exerted on all governments to ensure that polluters are not put ahead of people. The voice of developing countries needs to be heard above those of the multinationals and those governments pressing for watered down pledge and review agreements. The Africa Group in the opening address made it clear that it 'would like to declare clear and loud that it will not let African soil be a graveyard for the Kyoto Protocol."
Finally congratulations on what looks like a magnificent response to the attacks on our pensions. The economic and the environmental crises need a united and co-ordinated response.
Friday 1st December
Hello again from not so sunny Durban. In fact there have been serious floods in the area killing 14 people. This underlines the fact that some of the worst examples of climate change are more pronounced in Africa than many other parts of the world. Ref article by John Vidal in Friday's Guardian.
Wednesday 8th December
My involvement at the COP17 Conference comes to an end today. Compared to previous COPs there has been little international publicity and this year very little engagement by Heads of State. There is currently no sign of an agreement that will represent a way forward on climate change. The term Conference of Polluters is increasingly being used to reflect the efforts to sabotage any agreement on the Kyoto Protocol 2, a Roadmap and the Finance arrangements. The unions 'prize' of the adoption of a 'Just transition', from the Cancun summit in 2010, looks increasingly vulnerable. There are the obvious villains like the USA and Saudi Arabia but the truth is that there is no leadership being shown by anyone in this process.
Human induced climate change is potentially disastrous and has thrust the environment and energy use to the forefront of educational, professional and trade union attention. Universities and colleges are amongst institutions being challenged to reduce their 'carbon footprint'. The TUC (Trades Union Congress) is urging unions to increase attention to environmental, especially climate related matters - and to engage with employers to develop low-carbon strategies and a 'just transition' to a low carbon economy and society.
There is now a scientific consensus that unless carbon-based energy use is radically reduced, the world faces a crisis in which the poorest will suffer the most, but all of us will be affected. The dangers of inaction are extremely serious:
The Stern Review made clear that the sooner we act, the less likely or intense will be the climate change and the impact on our environment.
UCU's founding Congress in 2007 committed UCU to play its part in 'greening the campus' and 'greening the curriculum' and to assist campaigns for sustainable national policies and local practices.
With 120,000 members in further and higher education, UCU is uniquely equipped to make a significant contribution to the battle against climate change. We have union reps in every FE and HE workplace and many members with specialist knowledge. UCU is:
Climate change is 'arguably the single greatest challenge facing humankind... For the TUC climate change has become a key issue' (TUC deputy general secretary, Frances O' Grady)
Who can be an environmental rep?
What can a union environmental rep do?
I'm interested in being an environmental rep, what do I do now?
TUC UGR handbook
See Go Green at Work