The UK Could Fall Behind in Worldwide Decarbonisation Effort

There are potentially “disastrous consequences” for the UK should it fall behind in the global decarbonisation race, according to the TUC’s general secretary, Paul Nowak. Nowak claims that the UK is “limping towards a green future” and calls for a “national collective effort” to reach the country’s targets.

Nowak states that, “All of our unions are signed up to delivering net zero … from schools, to hospitals, to the steel industry, our members are working day in, day out to make sure this transition happens and is done in a way that is fair and just.” He goes on to say that there needs to be a national effort involving employers, workers, and the government to ensure a speedy and effective transition to a net zero economy.

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There has been frequent pressure on the UK regarding climate change action over the past few years. Campaigns and protests from groups such as Extinction Rebellion and Just Stop Oil have made the headlines with their actions and statements. This mood has also shifted over to some trade unions, who see a common cause with the groups when it comes to climate change and UK decarbonisation. Both groups cite the economic system of the UK that exploits natural resources for wealth as the cause of the rising cost of living and ecological breakdown witnessed across the country.

Paul Nowak – TUC General Secretary

Commenting on this shift in attitude, Nowak states that unions and climate campaigners can “work together” and can prioritise a “a positive long-term future for everyone.” He goes on to state, “Our credibility is rooted in those millions of union members whose work will be affected by the transition to net zero…So constructive dialogue between us is important where we have differing views from some climate campaigners, such as our view that there is an important future role for nuclear energy.”

The TUC has recently hired two project officers to spearhead worker-led transitions towards achieving net zero emissions. One officer will focus on the steel industry, while the other will concentrate on motor manufacturing.

According to Nowak, it is crucial to prioritise the decarbonisation of energy-intensive sectors like steel, ceramics, and chemicals, alongside promoting employment opportunities in emerging industries like solar and wind. He emphasised that the pursuit of net zero should not come at the expense of the UK’s industrial base, underlining the significance of maintaining both sustainable jobs and the decarbonisation of key sectors.