Last week more than 50 unions representing millions of jobs worldwide joined the Unions4Climate action network calling for a global agreement on climate change in Paris at the UN climate summit next year.
“Threats to jobs and livelihoods include the threat of climate change. For unions it is simple. There are no jobs on a dead planet,” said Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation.
The launch of the network coincides with alarming news from the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) that greenhouse gases reached unprecedentedly high levels of concentration in the northern hemisphere in April. CO2 concentration levels surpassed 400 parts per million during the whole of the month.
“We watched governments fail the planet and their people in Copenhagen [at the UN climate summit in 2009] and the same corporate interests want to see failure in Paris,” Burrow added. Unions4climate action wants to see ambitious climate commitments from governments, saying a strong agreement would ensure green jobs. In Germany up to 400,000 new renewable energy jobs have been created in just two years, the ITUC said.
Burrow’s view chimes strongly with that of the European Wind Energy Association – wind power is already reducing carbon emissions and, as a mature energy technology, has the potential to make massive carbon cuts in the power sector as well as creating thousands of sustainable jobs.
The EWEA Annual Event 2015 is set to take place in Paris just before the UN climate summit. In addition to job creation, the event is set to be a platform for the industry to show the world’s decision makers its contribution to climate action, among the technology’s other benefits – each wind-produced kilowatt hour of electricity avoids a kWh of electricity created by power stations burning coal, gas and oil – an average of 696gCO2/kWh.
By 2020 wind power could avoid the emission of 316 million tonnes of CO2 – the equivalent to around three quarters of today’s EU car fleet’s emissions.