To deal with climate change everything must change

Josiah Mortimer

"To actually inspire people to save the climate, there has to be a social justice element. ‘If the transition is not socio-ecological, it will be nothing at all’. Since inequality destroys a sense of collectivism – ‘we’re all in this together’ – the climate fight has to be a radical one."

The European Trade Union Institute recent conference on ‘The Socio-Ecological Transition: A New Climate for the EU’s Sustainability Transition’ laid bare the need for radical change to deal with the climate crisis. And if battling climate change requires making our societies less superficial, less focused on expansion and instead more focused on equality, then that’s something we can all fight for.

With the global climate negotiations beginning in Lima next week, the question of climate change is in the public eye more than it has been for a long time. Yet when much of Europe has still not recovered from the financial crisis, there’s a tension that remains in the minds of European leaders.

So it was a good time for the European Trade Union Institute to hold its conference: ‘The Socio-Ecological Transition: A New Climate for the EU’s Sustainability Transition,’ last week.

A key point of discussion was inequality and growth in relation to the climate crisis – with politicians scrambling for the latter while the former grows. Speaking wasJean Pascal von Ypersele – the IPCC vice-president – who spoke about their latest report.

Taking on board over 140,000 comments from scientists, governments and researchers across the world, the fifth IPCC report was ground-breaking. But it was also interesting that it included the ideas of sustainable development and equity for the first time.