Unite reps march for a green future at COP26

This weekend Unite reps joined hundreds of thousands of other trade unionists, activists and citizens to demonstrate at the United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26).

Your branch was represented by reps braving the wet conditions to stand in solidarity and demand that the gathering world leaders take heed of the messages from the crowd and act now to stop climate change and protect life on our planet.

Gillian Foy, workplace rep, said

The Day of Action in Glasgow was a genuinely uplifting event. Despite the terrible weather, 100,000 people came came together to make common cause on the issue of climate justice, with similar events taking place worldwide. 

It was brilliant to meet Unite members from different branches in Scotland as well as other trade unionists, and to march alongside a wide range of groups and individuals. 

The diversity of participants and speakers was really inspiring and I think it’s vital that Unite continues to be active around environmental issues. 

Climate and sustainability in Edinburgh

Edinburgh Council’s approach to the climate crisis is due to be published in the 2030 Climate Strategy on 30 November 2021, as discussed at a recent Policy and Sustainability Committee. The draft strategy outlines 7 priorities:

  1. Unlocking and accelerating energy efficiency in homes and buildings
  2. Enabling the development of a citywide programme of heat and energy generation and distribution infrastructure
  3. Accelerating the decarbonisation of public transport
  4. Renewing the focus on climate resilience and accelerating adaptation of the city
  5. Supporting citizen empowerment, behaviour change and community activism
  6. Supporting Business Transition and the green economy
  7. Collaborating to develop a citywide programme/pipeline of green investment proposals to address the above.

Your branch will make sure your voice is heard, so get in touch with any comments—you can comment below or contact us directly.

Read on below for how your branch will work to ensure the Council hears your voice and ensure a fair deal for workers as it works towards net zero carbon emissions.

Energy efficiency in homes and buildings—job creation

The Council must work to ensure energy efficient social housing, to meet targets set out in the Scottish Government’s Energy Efficient Standard for Social Housing. This is an opportunity to create well-paid skilled jobs in the trades required for the retrofitting work to bring buildings up to scratch, such as

  • fitting insultation
  • installing condensing boilers and storage heaters
  • exploring the use of solar panels.

This is a golden opportunity for the Council to support young people by looking at apprenticeships in such trades and in energy-related jobs such as EPC assessors, that will be vital for the future.

We want to ensure the Council creates jobs in house, rather than relying on costly contractors and agency staff.

Your branch supports, and will work towards the goals of, the STUC’s Our Homes campaign, that calls on the Scottish Government to provide funding to local authorities to

  • retrofit publicly-owned buildings
  • establish munipal owned energy companies.

Read about the Our Homes campaign and use this tool to lobby your councillor to demand the Scottish Government provide funding.

Citizen empowerment and community activism

The Council is setting up a community forum on climate. This will be run by the charity Our Future Edinburgh.

Get involved in the community forum to make sure your voice is heard—there’s an event on 9 November to shape how it will look.

Just Transition

The Council plans to set up a “business led Economic Just Transition Forum” to ensure a just transition to Edinburgh achieving net zero carbon emissions.

The climate current is here now. This is proof that businesses will not work for the interests of people and planet, but for shareholders.

Business cannot be trusted to work in the interest of workers as they transition to greener ways of working—workers must have a voice. This is what your union is here for.

Your branch is working to ensure any forum for just transition is not led by the interests of business, but led by the principles of fair work and informed by the voices of those that will enact the work needed to move to net zero—the workers.

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