Welcome to the Public Works blog.

Public Works is UNISON Scotland's campaign for jobs, services, fair taxation and the Living Wage. This blog will provide news and analysis on the delivery of public services in Scotland. We welcome comments and if you would like to contribute to this blog, please contact Kay Sillars k.sillars@unison.co.uk - For other information on what's happening in UNISON Scotland please visit our website.

Monday, 8 October 2018

IPCC Report: Political will essential to deliver on 1.5C Paris target

Today’s stark report on the devastating impacts of climate change should make us all sit up and commit to urgent action.

Politicians need to do the right thing and we must make them, including ensuring a fair and just transition to a zero carbon future.

The warning from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) makes it very clear that without urgent and unprecedented changes to energy, transport and land use, the world risks catastrophic temperature rise.

The Guardian report said today: “The world’s leading climate scientists have warned there is only a dozen years for global warming to be kept to a maximum of 1.5C, beyond which even half a degree will significantly worsen the risks of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people.”

The good news is that the scientists – including the head of Scotland’s new Just Transition Commission - believe it is affordable and feasible to keep to the 1.5C Paris Agreement target, but they point to the need for political will to make sure that policies are put in place in time.

Top priority in Scotland must be to strengthen the climate change Bill currently going through the Scottish Parliament to a target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 at the latest, with 77% by 2030.

It’s good that the Scottish Government will now seek new advice on meeting 1.5C from the UK Committee on Climate Change (CCC), but it’s clear from the IPCC report and the recent CCC report on Scottish progress that we must have a step change in cutting emissions, particularly in transport and agriculture.

UNISON wants to see massive investment in public transport, including renationalisation of rail and reregulation of buses, as part of the move to greener transport - and much greater public ownership of energy, including municipal energy.

We are campaigning with the Stop Climate Chaos Scotland coalition and the Just Transition Partnership (JTP) to strengthen the Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Bill.

As well as stronger targets, we want Scotland’s new Just Transition Commission to be set in statute in the Bill and to report to Parliament on progress.

The JTP welcomed Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham’s appointment last month of Professor Jim Skea as Chair of the Commission.

Dave Moxham, Deputy General Secretary of the STUC and co-chair of the Just Transition Partnership, stressed that Scotland’s trade unions see tackling climate change as a moral, social and economic imperative. However, in meeting emissions reduction targets, we must ensure a just transition for the workforce and communities which currently extract or depend on the use of fossil fuels.

Just transition includes both measures to support retraining and new jobs for those in affected industries, with support for workers and communities, and measures to produce new, green and decent jobs and livelihoods as well as healthy communities. It aims to address environmental, social and economic issues together.

There are clear economic opportunities if we are ahead of the game in building a greener future, but we must ensure no-one is left behind and so climate plans must be integrated with an industrial strategy.

Professor Skea, is co-chair of the working group behind today’s IPCC report. His comments today are reported in the Guardian:

“We have presented governments with pretty hard choices. We have pointed out the enormous benefits of keeping to 1.5C, and also the unprecedented shift in energy systems and transport that would be needed to achieve that.

“We show it can be done within laws of physics and chemistry. Then the final tick box is political will. We cannot answer that. Only our audience can – and that is the governments that receive it.”

That’s where we all come in. There are no jobs on a dead planet.

Let’s make sure Scotland’s politicians continue the unanimous commitment in 2009 of support for world leading legislation. We need them now to agree stronger targets and decisive policy action to protect the planet for future generations, with public sector action crucial in leading the way.