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COP28 United Nations Climate Change Conference: a trade union issue

10 November 2023

In November 2023, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are set to host the 28th United Nations Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, more commonly known as COP28. The conference will take place in Dubai from 30 November-12 December 2023 and is an opportunity for international and national leaders, policy makers, high-level representatives, and civil society to come together and agree on action to deliver on keeping global temperature rise below 1.5°C compared to pre-industrial levels, by 2050. According to the latest reports from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) we need to have halved global carbon emissions by 2030 if we are to achieve the 1.5°C goal.

We are already feeling and seeing the impacts of the climate and ecological crises in the UK and beyond. Extreme weather events such as exceptionally high temperatures and mass flooding are becoming increasingly prevalent, and this is a direct result of changing climate. This is affecting our communities and our education institutions due to closures, damage to buildings and infrastructure and sometimes dangerous working conditions. The harmful implications of the climate crisis is now affecting our livelihoods; it is having a detrimental impact on worker conditions and the education experience of students and learners.

The COP28 has four main cross-cutting themes:

  • technology and innovation
  • inclusion (with a particular focus on youth)
  • frontline communities
  • finance.

What is UCU doing?

We have been convening a working group of UCU green reps to agree on a theme for mobilising and organising around COP28 this year. Over the next month we will be sharing regular communications packed with information and resources signposting our members with provocations, inspiration and opportunities to rise up and take action at branch through to national and international level. Whether you are taking action as an individual or a collective, your contribution counts.

UCU's theme for COP28 organising: adaptation

To deliver on climate justice, we need to ensure our education institutions and systems are adapting in response to the climate and ecological crises. There is no time to waste; we need action and we need it now. This means negotiating with employers on adapting in response to our changing climate, and ensuring adaptation is a key element of forward planning across all aspects of our education systems. It spans our buildings, our curricula, working conditions including health and safety issues, and the operations of our education institutions.

We will be sharing information and resources for adaptation covering the following topics in the build-up to and during COP28, to empower UCU members to take agency in calling for climate action:

  • industrial relations and recognition
  • operations and estate
  • education and learning.

Dates for your diary

Key dates during COP28 to note as an education trade union member:

  • 5 December 2023: Energy, industry / Just Transition / indigenous peoples 
  • 8 December 2023: Youth, children, education and skills 

Events in the UK (more to be added):

Last updated: 10 November 2023