Education Unions Mobilising on Climate Change

published 25 July 2011 updated 31 March 2017

The 6th Education International (EI) World Congress meeting in Cape Town, South Africa, from 22nd to 26th July 2011:

  1. Recognises that human-induced climate change has serious environmental, economic and social consequences for all countries and all peoples and represents one of the most serious global challenge facing governments and civil society in the 21st century;

  1. Rejects all attempts to promote atomic power as a clean alternative to carbon emitting electricity production. Chernobyl and Fukushima have made it clear: nuclear energy is neither safe nor sustainable and should be substituted by renewable energy;

  1. Believes that the global union federations have an important role in the shaping of opinion and policy on climate changeand that action to mitigate the effects of climate change is critical for all trade unions because:-

  1. The transition to a low carbon economy requires new patterns of production, consumption and employment; workers must be centrally involved in this transition:

  2. Mitigation requires collective action by governments and all sectors of the economy, nationally and globally; unions are well placed to use their organizational and collective strength to bring about the structural changes needed to create new low carbon production and distribution systems.

  1. Asserts the particularly important role of education and research in leading the debate on climate change, particularly in ensuring that the debate takes place on the basis of sound, scientifically based information.

  1. Declares that education institutions, have a responsibility to reduce emissions as part of national and global collective action by all economic sectors:

  1. Recognises the need for a binding international agreement to supersede the Kyoto Protocol and the inadequacy of the framework for, and levels of, emission reductions pledged at the 2010 UN climate change conference in Cancun, Mexico: this agreement must include an international public research plan based on national, regional and international cooperation on the least polluting forms of energy, energy efficiency, energy sobriety and the necessary structural changes for the transition to a low greenhouse-gas emissions economy;

  1. Notes that members of national education unions have an important role to play in educating students about the causes and the effects of climate change, and the necessary structural changes for the transition to a low greenhouse-gas production and distribution systems and in implementing carbon emission reduction measures in education institutions, particularly in the more energy-use intensive higher education and research sector:

  1. Encourages all member organisations to raise awareness of environmental issues by taking the following steps:

  1. Organise climate change awareness projects among their membership to help them explore ways to reduce pollution and save financial, environmental and material resources;

  2. Promote environmentally-friendly workplace policies and practices:

  3. Seek the extension of the role of union representatives in each workplace to ensure the development of climate change and sustainable development clauses to be included in negotiations with employers and in workplace agreements;

  4. Demand that the curricula of all courses in educational institutions include specific sessions on climate change;

  5. Draw on new work practices and collective bargaining measures to reduce the carbon footprint of education institutions;

  6. Encourage all educators to teach future generations about the importance of sustainable development, bio-diversity and climate change through awareness-raising on indigenous ecosystems;

  7. Ensure, in so far as possible, that members in the higher education and research sector lobby for their higher education institutions to sign up to the 1990 Talloires Declaration on University Presidents for a Sustainable Future and to endorse the 1994 Copernicus University Charter for Sustainable Development.

  8. Promote climate change as an area of study in its own right and as a cross-curricular issue at all levels of education including teacher education;

  9. Lobby for the protection of research programmes and increased investment in research into climate change and sustainable development;

  1. Mandates the Executive Board to:

  1. Include the issue of climate change on the agendas of its own meetings, conferences and seminars and in discussions with international bodies

  2. Support global campaigns and initiatives by international trade union bodies and intergovernmental organisations to promote a transition to industries based on renewable energy produced at local level and which create environmentally and socially sustainable jobs with fair, equitable and just working conditions;

  3. Ensure raising the awareness of members and of society through websites, article, training etc;

  4. Ensure action-oriented information sharing between affiliates and EI, and between EI and other Global Union Federations (e.g. ITF);

  5. Ensure EI participation in the United Nations Decade of education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014) led by UNESCO.

  6. Develop the setting up of an electronic network of interested affiliates to carry this programme of work forward.