By Earth Strike UK – Bristol Earth Strike, April 21, 2021
What is Earth Day?
Earth Day was started on 22nd April 1970 and has continued annually since then. Each year, on 22nd April, a wide range of events take place globally with the aims of enacting transformative changes to tackle environmental crises and build a sustainable future.
Why is this important?
The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has warned us that we must cut carbon emissions by 45% by 2030, and reach carbon neutrality by 2050, or we risk the planet heating beyond 1.5 degrees. If we fail to curb our carbon emissions and the average global temperature continues to increase, we risk triggering a climate breakdown that we will have no hope of stopping, causing global devastation.
Despite this stark warning by the scientific community, many governments and employers continue to act as if there were no crisis at all.
To bring about the change needed will require holding all sectors of the global economy accountable for their role in the environmental crisis and calling for bold, creative, and impactful solutions. This will require action at all levels, and we as workers have a part to play in ensuring a global just transition, the sustainability of our workplaces, and the compliance of our industries with scientific climate targets.
Regardless of how important you feel the Climate and Ecological emergency is, changes to the economy to address these issues are already happening. We feel it is important that Workers are fully involved in how these changes happen so that they can secure the rights and livelihoods of themselves and future generations.
What do we want to happen?
We want to see a Just Transition to sustainable production and a low-carbon economy that also ensures that workers’ rights, working conditions and livelihoods are secured and improved upon.
One way Workers can ensure a Just Transition is by engaging with their employers; getting involved in (and leading) the move towards climate-resilient and low-carbon workplaces. By collectivising this issue in our workplaces we can ensure that changes will any provide protect our environment, improve our working conditions, and benefit our wider communities.
How can this happen?
Bristol Earth Strike has created a template letter that workers can submit to their employers on Earth Day (22nd April).
This letter asks employers to agree to carry out an environmental audit of the workplace and working practices; then to commit to taking action based on these finding to reduce the environmental impact.
Environmental Audits can either be conducted internally if your company has the appropriate staff and information to carry this out, or may be done externally through a third party. You can find help identifying possible external organisations to carry out the audit online or by contacting a trade union that represents your industry.
The purpose of the audit is to:
- Understand how your workplace and its practices impact the environment.
- Identify environmental risks to the workforce, local community and surrounding natural environment due to your workplace and its practices.
- Identify actions that can be taken in the workplace to minimise harm to the environment and reduce carbon emissions.
The workforce should be encouraged to take an active role in this audit as well as deciding what action to take to ensure the accountability of this process and that any action taken is mandated by the Workers themselves.
Taking action based on the environmental audit could lead to changes (for example) such as switching the company’s default pension fund to a fossil-free one, changing to more environmentally friendly and sustainable suppliers, de-carbonisation of the workplace, reducing energy use and waste, or reskilling and retraining workers to diversify the company to carry out more environmentally friendly work.
You might want to consider talking with other workers about co-signing and submitting this letter together, as collective support for changes in your workplace is often more effective and safer. Setting up a group for workers to discuss this action (and other workplace environmental issues) on an ongoing basis can be effective for making the changes that you want to see beyond Earth Day, and holding your employer accountable for any promises they make.
Click on the link to download our template letter to employers – letter to Employers
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author.