Lambeth Trades Council calls climate strike rally

| 19th September 2019
Lambeth council union
'We have local issues to tackle, a national role to play in providing best practice examples but also international responsibilities.'

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The planet is burning. We are already at crisis point to try and make a difference, to try and salvage a decent future.

It is becoming clearer to millions of people that the way we organise our society and our economy is not suitable for sustaining life on Earth. A system based on profiteering and greed and competition to boost profit margins isn’t going to be able to adapt quickly enough to stop run away destructive climate change.

Capitalism is the kind of system where the ice caps melt and the oil companies stake a claim to the newly revealed oil reserves.

Radical change

Greta Thunberg and her Fridays for Future movement has been an inspiration. Now these young people are calling on adults – workers – to take action alongside them.

Lambeth Trades Council has called for a rally in Windrush Square on Friday 20 September from 12:30. We are calling on workers across the borough to take action, walk out of work and join us for the rally.

Trade unionists will then be sending a delegation into central London to join school students on their protest outside Milbank. We are urging people to join us in standing together, alongside workers across the world to demand action now.

This is a real opportunity for working people to stake their claim on the future. We cannot leave it to teenagers to be the brave ones. If we accept that human activity is driving climate change then it is up to us who work in that system to organise and frustrate the machinery of climate death and the point of production and distribution.

Locally we are moving in the right direction. Lambeth Council has declared a climate emergency and has committed to making the council’s operations carbon neutral by 2030. Lambeth is also calling a Citizen’s Assembly. But how can we ensure that these aren't just tick-box, paper exercises, and that they lead to meaningful and radical change?

Local issues

And the issue isn’t just the Council. They contribute only 1 percent of the carbon emissions in the borough. Even if they did go carbon neutral before 2030, what about the rest of the local economy?

We have the Shell HQ in Lambeth after all. How can we create a culture locally of low emissions and carbon offsetting in the next few years?

Workers at Lambeth Council are in negotiations with the council about how we can make serious progress on environmental issues. This is about embedding new cultures and behaviours among staff and putting new systems in place that clearly outline how we can become carbon neutral.

All this has practical implications: when Home for Lambeth begin to knock down estates to build new housing, how are they going to offset the carbon released into the atmosphere?

An independent climate change advisor alongside a regularly convened assembly of local residents to advise and assess Lambeth council's progress is so important. But this should be widened out too to the whole borough.

International responsibilities 

We have local issues to tackle, a national role to play in providing best practice examples but also international responsibilities.

Staff are calling on the council to ensure they are welcoming climate refugees while doing anything possible to help measures against the global displacement of peoples from their homes.

We are already beginning to see the impact of climate change on our planet. Now it is a race against time to save what we can and ensure a decent standard of living for future generations.

The politicians are prevaricating and the bosses are making money out of the crisis. It is time for working people – alongside the students – to take a stand. Everything depends on it.

This Author 

Simon Hannah is the joint branch secretary of Lambeth UNISON and a Labour Party activist. He is also the author of A Party with Socialists in it: A History of the Labour Left and the forthcoming book from Pluto, Can’t Pay, Won’t Pay: The fight to stop the Poll tax.

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