On the second day of Labour Party Conference, TSSA helped secure an overwhelming majority for a Socialist Green New Deal which puts decarbonisation of transport, Just Transition and trade union rights at the heart of Labour’s approach to the climate crisis.
The result was not a given, as there were differences of opinion among delegates and affiliates on what the final wording of a Green New Deal (GND) motion should look like. All those who had submitted motions in this subject area were brought together on Saturday evening for what’s known as ‘compositing’ – a process where the words of all motions are assembled to make a single motion to take to conference for voting on.
After hours of negotiations, two GND motions went to the conference, with TSSA having shaped the wording of Composite 1 which was moved by our sister union, the Fire Brigades Union (FBU).
Speaking in the debate, TSSA delegate Fliss Premru made a passionate argument for “rapid transit away from fossil fuels in the next 10 years”, warning: “we need to be that change or it will be done to us for the benefit of the billionaires.”
Flying the flag for rail and public transport industries, Fliss said: “We need massively expanded, electrified, affordable, publicly-owned and accessible railways and free buses– made safe through proper staffing and ventilation.” She also highlighted TSSA’s campaign to save Eurostar, saying “Eurostar is our green life line to Europe saving 60,000 flights a year -we cannot lose this – we must take back our public stake.”
Fliss highlighted the opportunity coming up in the COP26 climate talks – due to be held in just a few weeks’ time in Glasgow – and the need to organise and push for political action before it’s too late.
The wide-ranging and comprehensive motion was backed by dozens of CLPs, as well as the campaign group Labour for a Green New Deal, FBU and TSSA.
Among many details, the TSSA-backed motion calls for: Expansion and electrification of integrated public transport, including public ownership of our railways; free local bus networks, rail electrification, high speed rail, sustainably powered rail freight and electric buses;
TSSA General Secretary Manuel Cortes had been compositing until 11pm on Saturday evening and said he was “delighted” with the final result. “Our union can be proud to put our name and support to such a strong climate motion, and I was excited to see and hear from so many young and first time delegates in this important debate.”
Socialist Green New Deal motion in full:
- As with Covid, the climate crisis exposes sharply the inequalities in society in the UK and internationally and we must ensure that workers are at the heart of any future programme and that means unshackling trade unions.
- The UK faces a post-covid unemployment crisis with insecurity and lowpay rife for workers.
- Intensifying climate and environmental breakdown brings devastating threats to public health and livelihoods.
- The UN’s latest climate report states that temperatures are likely to rise by more than the vital 1.5C limit in the next two decades, bringing widespread devastation and extreme weather.
- That only immediate, rapid and large-scale reductions in emissions can prevent such breakdown.
- Local communities in the UK and countries around the world are experiencing climate change related extreme weather events, including devastating flooding, wildfires, hurricanes, and droughts. This is with warming at 1.2°C above average pre-industrial levels. Currently, we are headed for a 2.9°C temperature increase.
- Keir Starmer has pledged to hardwire the socialist Green New Deal into everything we do.
- The UK spends billions of pounds per year on fossil fuel subsidies and is a key jurisdiction for the enforcement of globally accrued debt.
- Ahead of COP26, Labour should promote a just, green recovery combining efforts to address unemployment, climate change, and public health.
- The Tory government is posturing on climate change with no serious plan to meet its climate targets. It has cut Green Home Grants and paid £40bn fossil fuels subsidies since March 2020 alone.
- Privatisation has undermined decarbonisation and pandemic response measures.
- The Covid Pandemic has shown that the levers of the state are required to respond to crises.
- Debt relief is essential to achieve climate justice.
Resolves to support:
- The socialist Green New Deal that will shift power from capital into the hands of workers.
Public ownership of energy including energy companies, creating an integrated, democratic system.
- A government program creating millions of well-paid, unionised green jobs with publicly owned entities
Creating well-financed publicly owned national and regional green investment banks.
Mass investment in green technologies and renewables;
- A just transition with a comprehensive re-training program and green job guarantee on union rates for affected workers.
- A just transition for British steelworkers, through sustained investment to decarbonise the steel industry
- Expansion and electrification of integrated public transport, including public ownership of our railways; free local bus networks, rail electrification, highspeed rail, sustainably powered rail freight and electric buses;
- Just climate adaptation, investing in fire and rescue services, flood defences, and resilient infrastructure;
- Retrofitting all homes to the highest standard of energy efficiency
- The creation of a National Climate Service, similar to creation of our NHS by Labour in 1948, to now tackle the crisis facing our planet
- Subsidies to support a comprehensive investment programme in renewable energy, home retrofit and zero carbon homes, decarbonisation of industry and transport, and nature restoration.
- Universal basic services, including a national care service
- Gearing education and training to climate transition.
- Banning fracking.
- National Nature service including ten new national parks, strategic rewilding, land regeneration, and particularly the restoration of upland bogs.
- Agricultural transition with the contribution regenerative farmers make by capturing carbon, managing water and promoting biodiversity to be recognised with funding
- Repealing all anti-trade union laws so workers can freely take industrial action over wider social and political issues, for industrial action to ensure action on climate change.
- Workers organising to decarbonise industries and the global supply chain.
- Using public procurement to promote decarbonisation, environmental protections, and international justice in global supply chains.
- All future stimulus and bailout eligibility linked to climate action and just transition plans;
- A global socialist Green New Deal, debt relief for low-income country debt held by UK institutions, financially assisting the transition in developing countries and freely sharing technology and resources internationally.
- Legal recognition of climate refugees’ right to asylum.
- Linking internationally with indigenous groups, trade unions and groups resisting ecological assault.