Eco Ableism is not the answer

Stephen McMurray argues that the climate movement needs to be a movement rooted in social justice, not one that falls into the trap of individualism and promoting policies which increase exclusion.  

With the COP conference taking place in Glasgow in Autumn 2021, there has been renewed focus on tackling climate change, particularly given the severe fires and floods which have affected many parts of the world.  There are however, concerns that policies which are aimed at reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases, may have a negative impact on the lives of people with disabilities.

Ableism is the discrimination or prejudice against people with disabilities in favour of non-disabled people. Eco ableism is defined as a failure by environmental activists to recognise that many of the climate actions they are promoting make life harder for people with disabilities.

Action to tackle climate change requires a wide range of policies and actions to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases.  These include changing the way we travel and the way we generate and use energy. However, there is a danger that such policies could further marginalise people with disabilities.  This has been illustrated in Edinburgh, which introduced ‘Spaces for People’ in reaction to the Covid-19 pandemic.  Bollards were introduced to separate cyclists from vehicles and pavements widened.

Edinburgh Morningside: Copyright M J Richardson and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Whilst improving cycling and walking routes to encourage people to cycle and walk more is vital in reducing transport emissions, there is evidence that they have made it harder for people with disabilities getting around.  Restricting parking with bollards and introducing double yellow lines has made it much harder for people with disabilities who rely on motorised vehicles to get shopping and socialise.

RNIB Scotland and the Edinburgh Access Panel have expressed serious concern over the introduction of floating bus stops, as it means that people with disabilities will have to cross cycle lanes to get on and off buses.  This is particularly worrying for people with visual impairments. 

Eco ableism is linked into the neoliberal agenda of tackling climate change by individualism.  That individual actions can influence the market and effectively tackle climate change. This ignores the reality that just 100 companies are responsible for 71% of global emissions.  Individualism can also be tied into victim blaming.  Many people with disabilities are limited in the individual actions they can take.  

There remain difficulties, for example in using public transport.  Only 80 out of 270 London Underground stations feature some form of step-free access. Furthermore, there is the issue of planning ahead to organise the wheelchair ramp and the worry that a member of staff won’t turn up on either end of the journey[ii].

With buses as well, wheelchair spaces are often taken by buggies, leading to tensions and arguments. This is despite a court ruling that drivers should ask passengers to make way for wheelchairs.   This can put wheelchair users off public transport and more reliant on private vehicles.

Much of the advice given to individuals to reduce their energy use is in the form of turning down the heating and watching what we eat.  However, many people with disabilities struggle to keep warm due to limited mobility and may require special diets, therefore reducing their choices.  A home insulation programme is desperately needed to reduce energy use and bills.  People with limited mobility should be prioritised.  

Even when it comes to electric cars, people with disabilities face challenges. Research found that there was concern in relation to; lifting the charge cable from the boot, manoeuvring the cable to the charge point, space or trip hazards around the car and charger, charging points not designed for wheelchair users and lack of public charging points.   

The challenge therefore, is to design the charging of electric cars to be accessible as possible.  There is a definite need to greatly increase the need of charging points.  Ideally, these should include disabled parking bays in the street, hospitals, GPs, supermarkets, and shopping centres.

The climate movement needs to be a movement rooted in social justice, not one that falls into the trap of individualism and promoting policies which increase exclusion.  Just as we should strive for a just transition for workers and communities, we should strive for policies that not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but also increase social justice and inclusion. 



 

 

Strike for Climate Justice

Scot.E3 has endorsed this campaign to repeal the anti trade union laws:

Workers need the right to strike for climate justice – repeal the anti-union laws** A joint statement from Earth Strike: Empower the Unions and Free Our Unions. Please add your or your organisation’s name! **

On 24 September, young people around the world struck for the climate. The youth climate strikes are vibrant and inspiring. They are also powerful: because they are defiant, because they are disruptive, because they are young people leveraging their collective power. Most of the strikers are too young to vote or hold political office, but by striking they are exercising power.

We want workers of all ages to follow the youth strikers’ lead. Workers have huge power, we need to use it! We need workers’ action to defend ourselves against the environmental dangers and deteriorating conditions brought about by the climate crisis. We need action to challenge and confront bosses and governments who care far more about profit than the planet and its people. It is time to revive the proud history of industrial struggles over social and political issues, including environmental ones – from the New South Wales building labourers’ “Green Bans” to the Lucas Plan.

For decades workers in the UK have been fenced in by multiple laws which make quick and effective strike action difficult, and action over political issues like climate change more difficult still. Workers do and will continue to defy the anti-union laws; but these laws have helped weaken the culture of organisation, direct action and solidarity.

We call on all organisations who seriously want to fight climate change to fight and vocally demand the abolition of all anti-union laws and their replacement with strong legal rights for workers and unions – including rights to strike freely at will, in solidarity with others and for political demands, and to picket freely.

We call on the whole labour movement to support the youth climate strikers in any way it can.

This statement was launched by the Earth Strike: Empower the Unions and Free Our Unions campaigns.

Image by Graham Checkley

How urgent is an “emergency”?

This post by Ian Campbell was first published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) in response to a joint editorial published by the BMJ and other journals on the climate emergency.  There was no coverage of carbon budgets (to show the urgency) or of the problem of widespread self-censoring that has been identified by Scientists for Global Responsibility.  We repost it here with permission from Ian and from the BMJ.

The UK’s share of the Paris-compliant global carbon budget will be used up in 3.3 years

How urgent is an “emergency”? The word usually implies that immediate action is needed, but in the two years since the declarations of a climate emergency by many national and local administrations following the 2019 street protests, there has been little effective action. In some countries, e.g. the UK, fossil fuel use has even been encouraged by measures such as further road building. It is all a long way from the “rapid and far-reaching transitions”, taking just a few years, that was envisaged by the IPCC SR15 report of 2018, which sparked the street protests.

We can quantify the urgency of the climate emergency in terms of the residual carbon budget – i.e. how much more CO2 can be dumped into the atmosphere without a major risk of exceeding 1.5°C global warming – and how soon this budget will be used up at current emission rates. It turns out that the UK’s fair share of the global carbon budget will be used up in 3.3 years. The maths are simple, but this timescale of 3.3 years is so far from what is being discussed, even in your editorial, that it is worth explaining the calculations in detail, as follows, so that readers can check for themselves. 

The 2021 IPCC AR6 report (Table SPM.2 p38) gives 400 billion tonnes CO2 as the global carbon budget to keep global warming to less than 1.5°C with 67% confidence. This is from the start of 2020. With a world population close to 8 billion, and using an assumption of global equity, this is 50 tonnes per person on the planet as a lifetime limit. The UK’s current CO2emissions are around 10 tonnes per person per year, according to a WWF report (Figure 21, p46). So the UK’s 50 tonnes per person will be used up in 5 years from January 2020, i.e. in December 2024, which is 3.3 years from now. 

This should not come as a surprise to people in the UK since similar calculations were done by the Tyndall Centre after the 2018 SR15 report, and are readily available for each UK local authority. These typically give a fair share of the global carbon budget as running out in 7 years from 2020 at current emission rates – the period is 7 rather than 5 years since the local authority data provided by BEIS is incomplete in not including emissions that are embedded in imports. Despite being so readily available, these reports have been almost completely ignored.

Photo by Marina Leonova on Pexels.com

Why is the need for radical change (emission cuts of double digit percentages per year) not common knowledge? Firstly, the UK Government promotes its Net Zero 2050 plan as a satisfactory solution, but the Government is not being sufficiently transparent that emissions from aviation, shipping and imports are excluded, or about the implications of the commitment to global equity, or about the feasibility of the implied technological solutions. Many commentators repeat the Government’s claims without challenge, but youth climate activists see through them and are speaking up about the deceits. Secondly, for various reasons, many climate scientists and many NGOs are self-censoring about the size and urgency of the changes needed – it is easier to campaign against the expansion of a particular airport than to explain the blunt truth that any leisure flying using fossil fuels is incompatible with a lifetime personal carbon budget of 50 tonnes CO2, since a reliable food supply and keeping warm are much higher priorities. 

Yet another COP may help, but what is really needed is for everyone to tell the truth about the climate emergency so that it is treated as an emergency, and to call out misinformation and deceits whoever makes them (however uncomfortable that is), as is advocated by Scientists for Global Responsibility in their Science Oath. It is clear that we cannot rely on governments to take the right decisions by themselves, however much they are urged to. It is up to citizens to be much more involved in policy making, and health professionals with their independence and their experience in making and explaining tough choices are well placed to make a major contribution to this. 

Decarbonising Steel Production

We’ve added a really useful report by the Coal Action Network to our Further Reading Page.Coal in Steel – problems and solutions‘ takes a detailed look at the ways in which carbon emissions can be reduced by alternative methods that break the steel industries reliance on coal.

The report argues that decarbonisation can be achieved by:

Decarbonisation of the steel sector could be achieved through:

  •  increased use of electric arc furnaces and recycled scrap— already happening in the UK.
  • using direct reduced iron production with green hydrogen in place of coke (which is produced from metallurgical coal). The HYBRIT project aims to do this at a commercial scale in Sweden by 2026, having made their first delivery of fossil free steel in August 2021.3
  •  reducing steel consumption through more efficient design of buildings, cars, energy infrastructure, and consumer products. Promoted by The Use Less Group at Cambridge University.

Global Climate Jobs Network – Technical Conference

ScotE3 has been working with other organisations in the Global Climate Jobs Network, the Alternative Information and Development Centre (South Africa) and Climaximo and Empregos para o Clima (Portugal), on a proposal for a technical conference to be held in March 2022.

Call for Papers

Climate jobs and green new deal movements are springing up around the world. This is a call for papers for an international conference on the technical aspects of the jobs that will be necessary, in 10th, 11th and 12th March 2022.

The conference will be on zoom, over three days, and contributors will be able to participate from all continents. We want papers from engineers, scientists, system modellers, designers, architects, planners, educators and trainers, foresters, soil scientists, trade union researchers, NGO researchers and other specialists.

The Climate Jobs Approach

We want contributors to think about the technical and technological implications of a “climate jobs” approach. This approach involves several features:

Massive government spending on public sector, direct employment to make possible reductions of 95% in CO2 emissions, and deep reductions in other emissions, within 20 years. In South Africa or Britain, this would be something like one million jobs a year, or in the United States 8 million jobs.

People who lose their jobs in old, high carbon industries would be guaranteed training and well paid, permanent work in climate jobs.

The work would begin from year one, starting with training a new workforce and shovel ready projects. Over twenty years many new technologies would become possible.

Public sector bodies would share intellectual property across borders.

Profits would be less important. Technologies that are necessary but currently “unrealistic”, could be developed rapidly at scale even if the cost was very high for many years. For example, alternative methods of making steel, substitutes for cement, or expensive forms of renewable energy like marine power and concentrated solar could enter mass production.

We could also move beyond the market, with regulations of many sorts. So we could think about the sort of rail, bus and electric system needed if all flights of 5,000 kilometres or less were banned. Or what could be done if we banned the manufacture of concrete, or F-gases?

Or contributors to think about the details, and the implications, of a building code that required new buildings to have greatly reduced energy use, and to burn no fossil fuels for heating or cooking. In this, we would like not only papers that argue this would be a good idea but think about how that code would be worded in different places, and what technologies and materials would be required, and what research would be required.

For more information about the conference, possible topics, how to participate and the deadline for submitting abstracts please download the full call for papers.

Crude Britannia

On the 20th September 2021 we cohosted with Lighthouse Books a discussion on the recently published book ‘Crude Britannia – how oil shaped a nation’. The discussion was introduced by Terry Macalister one of the books authors. This is the video of Terry’s introduction.

For anyone after a copy of the book, you can order Crude Britannia from the Lighthouse website & get 15% off using the code SCOT-E-THREE

Watershed – the turning point for North Sea Oil and the just transition

Today saw the publication of an important new report from Friends of the Earth Scotland and Oil Change International

Key messages from the report include:

  • Since declaring a climate emergency in 2019, the UK’s developed oil and gas reserves have increased by 800 million barrels of oil and gas, bringing UK developed reserves to 6.55 billion barrels.
  • UK law and Scottish Government policy of Maximising Economic Recovery, which requires every last drop to be drilled from the North Sea, would triple UK emissions from oil and gas
  • To limit warming to the Paris Agreement goal of 1.5ºC no new oil & gas fields, including Cambo, can be licensed or developed and North Sea production must be wound down in the next decade
  • In line with equity, the UK – as a wealthy nation with high historic emissions and low economic dependence on oil revenues – should phase out of oil and gas faster than countries for which it would be much harder. Not all of the 6.55 billion barrels in currently producing or under developed reserves can be extracted – some will have to close early, before fully extracting their reserves.
  • Every delay damages the prospects of a well-planned and just transition for workers and communities currently reliant on the industry.

We plan to publish a more detailed review of the report and if you would like to contribute your thoughts on the issues that it raises please do get in touch.

Scot.E3 September Update

  1. Leafletting workplaces
  2. Aberdeen event
  3. Glasgow Assembly
  4. Recent blog posts

 
1. Leafletting workplaces
We want to use our general briefing on COP 26 to get back to proactive workplace leafletting. If you’d like hard copies of the briefing, you can download and print yourself or just email and say how many you need, and we can put them in the post.  Use them in your workplace.  Or if you’d like to help by leafletting outside a workplace near you, we can put you in touch with others local to you if you need help and we can provide posters with QR codes that some people going in to work may prefer to use rather than taking a physical copy.  
 
2. Aberdeen Event
Neil Rothnie is speaking at an Aberdeen Event, Green Tease, Energy Politics and Just Transition, 1 – 3pm on Saturday 4th September
 
3. Glasgow Assembly
The COP Coalition’s 2nd Glasgow Assembly is Sunday 19th September, 12 – 4pm – more details on Facebook
 
4. Recent Blog Posts
Recent posts include updated the textbriefings on Trident and on Fuel Poverty, plus posts on Cambo, Covid and Climate and more.  Find the blog here.

Outside the new UK Government headquarters in Edinburgh – photo CC0, public domain


 

Facing Catastrophe

An opinion piece by Mike Downham that looks at the twin challenges of Covid and Climate and the role of the big corporations. A version of this article is also published in the the Scottish Socialist Voice newspaper.

It’s been said before but let me say it again: COVID IS NOT OVER!

This bears repeating because we’ve fallen into a deep pit of thinking that there’s no viable alternative – that our daily lives have to be like this – and taking at face value what those in power tell us. We keep falling back on trying to persuade and negotiate with them. This is a trap deliberately set for us by those who have the power at this point in history – the big corporations, served by their political lackeys in governments across the world, particularly in the Global North. 

The corporations are a consequence and integral part of the capitalist economy, which is, as encapsulated by Asbjorn Wahl:

 A system which is geared towards making profits rather than producing use value; dependent on economic growth; a system exploiting workers and over-exploiting natural resources – one that is also about to destroy planet earth as a place to live for future generations. 

This week’s IPCC report says that the impacts of this destruction – floods, fires, droughts, heat which humans can’t survive – are now being experienced in every region of the world. Glasgow experienced unprecedented flooding on the same day the report was published. 

Image by Pierre Banoori CC BY-SA 3.0

The report concludes that we are set to overshoot the critical 1.5 degree rise around 2030 – a decade earlier than their previous prediction. Only a huge reduction in greenhouse gas emissions over the next 10 years can save us.

In relation to the pandemic, the pharmaceutical companies want us to rely solely on their vaccines to stop the pandemic. No pandemic in human history has been stopped by vaccines alone – simple public health measures to cut down the spread of infection have always been necessary. But social distancing isn’t a source of profit, and ventilating buildings doesn’t need new technology.

In relation to global warming, which is now set to kill 100s of millions of us (the global death count for the virus is ‘only’ 4+ million so far), the Oil and Gas companies want us to go on burning fossil fuels down to the last drop, while they prepare to replace or compensate for these fuels with energy sources and technologies which will be equally profitable and every bit as exploitative

Trapped as we’ve been, we keep trying to negotiate with these companies and with the governments who serve them. Given the huge current imbalance of power between them and us, this amounts to inaudible whispering down the barrel of a gun.

The Zero Covid Scotland campaign has drawn a line under its attempts to negotiate with the Scottish Government. Just as the only way to avoid catastrophic climate change is to slash emissions, the only way to prevent more deaths and more suffering from Covid is to eliminate the virus. Slashing emissions and eliminating the virus are both entirely possible.

Image by Pete Linforth – Public Domain

Jonathan Neale (his book Fight the Fire published in February can be downloaded free from The Ecologist website) said at an event in Scotland last week that when you are faced with catastrophe the only way out is to build a mass movement of those most threatened by that catastrophe – a movement which starts by focussing on keeping each other alive.

The Zero Covid Scotland Campaign is planning to contribute in a small way to a movement to keep each other alive from Covid infection by inviting a range of people who have been most impacted by Covid to give evidence at a Public Hearing on Saturday 4th September, staring at 11.00am. You can register in advance for this event here.

After registering, you’ll receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

In the same way that eliminating the virus is the way of keeping each other alive from Covid, the way of keeping each other alive from global warming is climate jobs. This isn’t a new idea – thanks mainly to Jonathan Neale through the Campaign Against Climate Change it’s been around for more than ten years. But it’s been considerably developed through research in terms of how it would work, what kinds of jobs we are talking about (above all good, secure jobs), how many jobs (latest calculations for Scotland come to more than 100,000), and what training would be necessary. Climate jobs are the solution because they are the only way we can simultaneously and quickly slash emissions and keep our economy going so that we don’t have to drop our standard of living.

There’s a third specific catastrophe facing many people in Scotland – the loss of huge numbers of jobs in the North Sea Oil and Gas industry. There’s a sort of “offshore-so-not-affecting-most-of-us’ blind eye being turned on this by people in Scotland, led astray by our governments. But it’s already a reality for around 30,000 redundant workers, their families, and their communities. Unless something is done quickly it will affect at least 100,000. If you add this number of redundant workers to a society the size of Scotland’s which already features inadequate services, inadequate housing, and inadequate income support, in the middle of a lethal pandemic, to speak of keeping each other alive isn’t an exaggeration. Moreover, at the end of September, on the verge of winter and with the Covid epidemic still raging, the UK Government is set to terminate furlough, reduce Universal Credit back to its insulting pre-pandemic level and increase the cap on energy prices to an unprecedented figure. This amounts to a perfect storm for less well-off people.

The solution to the catastrophe facing offshore workers also lies again in climate jobs, specifically in the sectors of renewable energy, public transport, and heating efficiency, where a majority of offshore workers already have the right skills and experience. We can’t achieve energy transition in the short time we have available without the skills and experience of offshore workers.

Unfortunately, there’s an elephant in the room in relation to climate jobs and a transition to them. Just as we need to go on (to every one we meet regardless of their politics) about Covid and elimination and about climate change and climate jobs, we also need to speak of this elephant, which is the trade unions. 

As Wahl points out it’s entirely understandable how the trade unions have got into the fix that they now find themselves in. 70 or so years ago they had a place at the bargaining table with employers and governments because they had shown how they could disrupt the capitalist economy by withdrawing their labour. But the balance of power today is such that they don’t have a place at the table any longer. To win it back they need to demonstrate again that they are prepared to stop the train in its tracks. Unless the unions shift their perspective, the workers will leave them and set up their own collective arrangements

We mustn’t be fooled. The corporations which hold the power have no motivation to make concessions at this critical point in history. They are prepared to accept whatever number of deaths and however much suffering it takes to remain profitable. They are fatally hooked on the system they’ve created.

No new North Sea development

Speaking on behalf of the UK Government last week Alok Sharma said that the world is “dangerously close” to running out of time to stop a climate catastrophe.  Sharma would have already seen the now published IPCC report which makes it abundantly clear that this is the case.  Politicians use ‘we’ and ‘the world’ as if lack of action is a responsibility that we all share equally.  He went on to state that “We can’t afford to wait two years, five years, 10 years – this is the moment …” But in March 2021 the UK government signed up to a North Sea Transition Deal, designed by the oil and gas sector that essentially puts off the action we need for another three decades.  Opening a new oilfield is part of the plan and despite his rhetoric Sharma is right behind it.  This is why the campaign to stop the Cambo field is so important.  Pete Cannell explores the political importance of the campaign in this post.  A version of the post was published previously on the rs21 website.

On Monday 19th July twelve climate activists blocked the entrance to the UK Government hub in Edinburgh, demanding that plans to give the green light for a new oilfield west of Shetland be scrapped.  Later in the day they were joined by another 200 ‘Stop Cambo’ protestors.  

Shell and Siccar Point Energy are asking the UK Government for permission to develop the Cambo oil field.  Production is scheduled to start in 2025 and in phase 1 the two companies expect to extract 150 million barrels of oil – the emissions equivalent of 16 coal-fired power plants running for a year.  In total the new field contains the equivalent 800 million barrels of oil. 

With the United Nations Climate talks, COP 26, due to start in just over 3 months’ time the Stop Cambo campaign is shining a harsh light on what passes for UK climate policy.  Throughout the year Westminster has been ramping up announcements on ‘Net Zero’ climate initiatives.  We’ll see many more in the run up to the COP.  You might think that developing a new, deep water, oil field would fit uncomfortably with all of this.  And indeed, some critics are calling out Boris Johnson for hypocrisy.  But the truth is that giving the green light for a new oil field is no aberration or hypocritical deviation from otherwise well-intentioned policies.  On the contrary it’s a core part of UK and Scottish government policy that aims at maximum economic extraction of hydrocarbons from the North Sea.  And as such it provides a critical lens through which all this year’s announcements should be viewed.

The blueprint behind Tory plans is not hard to find.  It was released earlier this year without a fanfare.  On the 21st of March, Oil and Gas UK published the North Sea Transition Deal, a plan for continuing exploitation of North Sea Oil and Gas to 2050 and beyond.  The deal is a tripartite arrangement between the big oil and gas companies and the UK and Scottish governments. It maps out a plan to continue extracting oil and gas from the North Sea.  The idea is that at some point in the future carbon capture and carbon offsetting will allow the government to claim that they have achieved Net Zero.  In this world Net Zero doesn’t mean the end of oil and gas production.  The theory is that the carbon contained in the oil and gas extracted from the North Sea is either trapped in underground storage or compensated for by carbon retention measures elsewhere.  

The whole concept of Net Zero as developed in the Transition Deal is deeply flawed.  For a start, UK and Scottish emissions reduction targets don’t include the carbon extracted from the North Sea.  These greenhouse gas emissions are attributed to users of the products that derive from the oil and gas.  So, Oil and Gas UK can talk blithely about a zero carbon North Sea oil sector because it takes no responsibility for end use.  But even if you accept the bizarre logic of extracting hydrocarbons while taking no responsibility for a large part of the emissions you produce, the core technology that underpins carbon capture is speculative and untested.   Currently, there is nowhere in the world where carbon capture and storage operate at large scale.  And even if it can be made to work at large scale there will be many more years of greenhouse gas emissions before it has a serious impact.

Alongside continuing use of fossil fuels and carbon capture the North Sea Transition Deal also reserves a key role for hydrogen in transport and in domestic heating.  Some of the hydrogen will be ‘blue’ produced from hydrocarbons, some ‘green’ the result of electrolysis of water.   Without carbon capture ‘blue’ hydrogen is a major source of carbon emissions.  ‘Green’ hydrogen, produced using electricity generated from renewables, is carbon free but immensely inefficient, requiring a huge ramping up of electricity production from wind, tidal and solar power.  There’s certainly a place for green hydrogen in a renewable energy mix but only where direct use of electricity is impractical.  From any other perspective except that of an oil and gas company direct use of renewably generated electricity makes obvious sense.

The Sea Change report, published in May 2019, shows how continuing production of North Sea oil and gas is incompatible with meeting the UK’s climate targets, let alone meeting the UK’s historical responsibility to the global south as one of the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases over the last two centuries.  The report also shows how a planned, and rapid, shut down of North Sea operations could maximise employment opportunities in renewable energy.  

It was striking that all the speakers at the Stop Cambo rally highlighted the need for workers to be at the centre of the transition away from oil and gas.  Just Transition has become the common sense of climate activists in Scotland.  And climate is finally on the agenda of the trade union movement.  At the Scottish Trades Union Congress in April three of the composited motions focused on the issue.  But there is a real challenge here.   The STUC motions proposed by Unite, GMB, Prospect and the RMT tail the business-as-usual agenda that is driven by Oil and Gas UK and supported by Westminster and Holyrood – support for continuing extraction of oil and gas, carbon capture and a hydrogen economy.  There’s a need for a sharp debate. The politics and practice of transition can’t be ducked by either climate activists or workers.  

Even if the untested technologies on which Oil and Gas UK’s strategy is based work, Net Zero will not mean no net emissions, but simply shift responsibility for emissions elsewhere, often to the global south.  And business-as-usual also means a continuing drive for profit maximisation, low wages, and precarious employment.   Just Transition is not possible on the back of the North Sea Transition deal.  

For Just Transition to become more than a slogan, we need to win workers to the need for mass working class action over climate.  At this moment in our history class and climate are deeply intermeshed. Fighting for a future for our children and grandchildren with a transition strategy that provides a real chance of avoiding a climate catastrophe goes hand in hand with winning decent jobs and conditions, fighting racism and gender oppression and building workers’ power.  The need is obvious, but the politics of how to make it happen is critical and requires a break with the union/employer partnership approach which underlies existing trade union policy.

Cambo is just one more piece in the jigsaw of the fossil fuel economy that needs to be dismantled.  However, the decision to go ahead or not is politically important.  Boris Johnson wants to milk the UK’s hosting of COP26 for all its worth.  It will be embarrassing if developing new oil and gas fields is foregrounded in news from the COP, and that may mean a decision is postponed until 2022.  Not because the UK is out of line with the other industrialised nations participating in the COP.  Relying on carbon capture and other techno fixes is in line with the thinking that has informed the COP process over the years.  A public outcry over Cambo in the run up to COP26 can help blow away the mist of greenwashing that will be generated around the Glasgow talks and help to push the climate and union movements in the direction of a radical worker led strategy for system change not climate change.