Unionists support zero carbon transition plan

October 29, 2010

The following statement was adopted by the Trade Union Climate Change Conference held in Melbourne on October 9.

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This conference of Victorian union activists and local climate activists commends the report by Beyond Zero Emissions and Melbourne University’s Energy Research Centre. The report outlines a technically feasible and economically viable way for Australia to transition to 100% renewable energy within 10 years.

We are also mindful of the fact that economic restructure in the past has led to many sacrifices by working people. In this transition, it must not be workers and their communities that are forced to accept lower living standards and be disadvantaged.

This conference believes that “just transitions” are required. Commitment from government is needed to implement strong industry policy to develop and direct new industries for renewable energy, support the expansion of existing industries and the establishment of new industries particularly in the manufacturing sector.

One thing is clear — we cannot rely on the free market to support those who are most vulnerable and disadvantaged.

We reject market-based solutions like carbon pricing and instead call for regulation and direct government investment in renewable energy, to really ensure the polluters pay for the transition we need.

We are opposed to the HRL Technology’s proposed coal-fired power station. It undermines the concept of a just transition.

This coal-fired power station will create very little employment and continues our reliance on fossil fuels and CO2 emissions. We instead urge government to support jobs-rich renewable energy solutions as outlined by Beyond Zero Emissions.

We support the work of the Gippsland Trades and Labor Council (TLC) and trade unions representing workers in the Latrobe Valley who are demanding a regional development and assistance program to provide new jobs and the trainings for skills required for a strong and viable manufacturing sector with well-paid union jobs into the future.

Substantial emissions reductions in the Victorian economy are achievable, but require urgent government planning and immediate and long-term government commitment, including substantial government investment.

We resolve to encourage in every way possible, both the Gillard government and the Victorian government elected on November 27, to grasp the opportunity to provide leadership on what remains today “the moral issue of this generation”.

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