Adaptation to Climate Change and the world of work

A guide for Trade Unions - Adaptation to Climate Change and the world of work

(11 August 2020)  The newly published Guide for Trade Unionists on Adaptation to Climate Change and the world of work identifies public utilities and emergency and other public services as two of the sectors in the EU to be most impacted by climate change. Coordinated by the ETUC with the support of EPSU, the guide is a useful tool for unionists to understand the effects of climate change on workers and the adaptation measures that are required. EPSU supports the importance of addressing climate change and we want to see that the EU Recovery from the pandemic leads to a Fair, Green, Social and Democratic EU.  Investments in and funding of public services and infrastructures will be key to manage the transition.

Without such measures, the report concludes that job losses will occur in industries, public utilities and public services in the EU, for example up to 90 000 in emergency and other public services by 2050. Currently these  last sectors account for 16% of EU employment. Furthermore, as underlined by a recent EPSU study, natural disasters and extreme-weather events will put immense pressure on central and local government, social services, education, public transport, and disaster management units.

The most severe impacts for the public sector are expected for emergency and rescue services as well as for the health care sector, which will be at the forefront of the fight against negative consequences of climate change. The report outlines a number of ways these sectors will be negatively affected, and addresses challenges which unions in these sectors are facing across the EU, such as the lack of public funding and staff shortages.

The Guide is an important tool for all unionists, highlighting key challenges for all the sectors most at risk, as well as the impacts of climate change on Europe, the economy and workers as a whole. The final section on trade union action provides useful information on what trade unions can do at different levels, from European level to collective bargaining at company level, and on how to build partnerships and raise awareness.