Twelve theses on a socially just climate change policy

1. We accept the scientific proof
accept the scientific proof of climate change and that human
activities are crucial factors. It is not only a threat of the
future, the change is already going on, and the consequences can be

2. Reduce emissions from fossil fuel
main reason for the problem is the burning of fossil fuel. This
means that the success factor of any measure is whether or not it
contributes to reducing the emission of CO2 from fossil fuel. The
way we live and work will therefore change radically over the
coming years – either as a result of climate change, or of
actions to prevent or mitigate climate change. Not to act, or to
delay action, will make consequences worse.

3. A social and political struggle
though climate change policies will involve a huge amount of new
technology, it is first and foremost a social and political
struggle. The Stern Report of the UK government concluded that
“climate change represents the biggest market failure in
history”. The on-going financial and economic crisis
represents another of the biggest market failures in history. We
cannot rely on those same failed market mechanisms to solve these

4. A systemic problem
The current economic
growth model and the overexploitation of natural resources is an
integrated part of the capitalist economic system. The problem is
thus systemic. A narrow focus on single environmental issues will
therefore not be sufficient. The climate change struggle will have
to have a much broader political perspective. It will be a fight on
what kind of society we want to develop.

5. A just transition
Those who have caused
and benefitted most from CO2 emissions should also carry most of
the costs. It is all about climate justice. Developing countries
must still have the possibility to develop their economies and
societies. Free transfer of technology to developing countries will
be necessary, both to reduce their increase in emissions and to
lift two billion people out of poverty. Adaptation as well as
social funds will be necessary. The strongest resistance against a
just transition to a low-carbon economy can be expected from mighty
multinational companies and governments in rich countries.

6. Not a question of sacrificing
policy is not a question of sacrificing, but of building a better
society for the great majority of the population. This means that
we will fight climate change policies which contribute to
increasing inequalities in society, or to undermining working
conditions or achieved social rights. Fighting climate change has
to go hand in hand with a radical redistribution of wealth –
both from the North to the South and from the rich to the poor in
our own countries.

7. Many benefits
The transformation to a
low-carbon economy will benefit the climate, but also a number of
other areas. It represents an opportunity for progressive social
change. It will create millions of new jobs – particularly in
public transport, in the production of renewable energy (solar,
wind, wave and tidal) and in transforming our manufacturing
industry. It will reduce pollution at work and in our communities.
It will reduce market competition and thereby also reduce pressure
and stress at work. It will make it necessary to shorten working
hours to reduce the overexploitation of recourses and allow a more
just distribution of jobs across the globe. It can be used to
reduce consumerism as a way of compensating other unmet needs in
our societies, today characterised by alienation and powerlessness.
In short, social change is at the same time a precondition and a
solution to stopping climate change.

8. Market based solutions do not
Market based solutions, first and foremost
carbon trade, which have been promoted by governments and strong
economic interests in the North, have so far been a failure. There
is no other real solution than reducing greenhouse gas emissions
through joint and collective action. Carbon trade has until now
mainly contributed to delaying actions in this direction. Attempts
at individualising the responsibility for CO2 emissions are a dead

9. Democratic control of the economy
avoid catastrophic climate change, we therefore have to increase
democratic control of the economy. This is exactly what we need of
many other reasons. In other words, the climate crisis does not
only represent a threat, but also new possibilities for the trade
union movement and allied social forces. The on-going environmental
and economic crises, together with neoliberalism’s current
crisis of legitimacy, have actually opened an array of
opportunities waiting to be exploited.

10. The need for mobilisation
To the
degree that we have achieved social equality, jobs for all, decent
working conditions, eradication of poverty, gender equality, it has
not happened through global summits. Neither will the climate
crisis be solved in this way. We need binding international
agreements, but this can only be achieved through social
mobilisation which puts pressure on our politicians – based
on solidarity, equality, democracy and peoples needs. This will not
happen without a considerable shift in the balance of power in

11. Broad social alliances
To achieve
these goals, we have to build broad social alliances. Of particular
importance is an alliance between trade unions and the
environmental movement. In doing this, we have to overcome a couple
of important weaknesses. We have to increase the understanding of
social power (the class conflict) in the environmental movement,
and we have to increase the understanding of the environmental and
climate crisis in our trade unions. This can only happen if the two
movements start to co-operate, exchange views and experiences and
develop a friendly and constructive environment for discussion. Our
long-term perspective must be to build the social alliances
necessary to change society, not the climate.

12. Conclusion
The climate change struggle
is primarily a struggle for the democratisation of the economy, a
radical redistribution of wealth and the mobilisation and free use
of all accumulated human knowledge. This is the way to create a
just transition to a better society for all – including our
descendants. We fight not only for jobs and welfare, but for the
future of humanity.

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