Activist Martha Hawthorne was SEIU Local 1021’s ambassador to the COP21 Climate Change Conference in Paris. On February 16, she will present what she learned from the historic events, and describe the actions SEIU and all of labor can take to preserve our communities at home and those of our global neighbors.
Here are excerpts from her first report after her return:
"Trade unionists who came from around the world had been working for years towards an agreement that included specific language for a “just transition and decent jobs.” Many coal miners and workers in extractive industries face losing their jobs with no alternative as a result of climate change. The US delegation—which included AFL-CIO leaders and the Blue Green Alliance (of which SEIU is a member)—all lobbied heavily for this language to be included in the “operational” part of the agreement.
Unionists united with environmental groups and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to include human rights, gender rights, and indigenous rights as a central part of the accord. We even put on the first ever demonstration within the official “Blue Zone.”
However, thanks to maneuvering by the United States, Norway, Saudi Arabia and a number of other countries, this core language ended up only in the preamble to the draft final agreement. A big disappointment!….
There is much we can be doing here to make a difference, thinking globally and acting locally. We can be working to divest fossil fuel industries from our pension plans, stopping the coal terminal planned for the Port of Oakland, join in the movement for moratoriums on fracking in California — and all the while educating our members to the urgency of climate change."
Join the SEIU for a great discussion, dinner, and photos from Paris.
For more information, see the SEIU website.
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