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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

VICTORIAN AUSTRALIAN MANUFACTURING WORKERS UNION STATE CONFERENCE POLICY ON CLIMATE CHANGE







The AMWU recognises that the most serious issue facing humanity is the issue of climate change as a result of global warming. If urgent action is taken within the next 10 years, it may be possible to prevent runaway climate change from occurring. Runaway climate change is the point at which global warming is irreversible. Global warming is a catastrophe for the entire planet. With respect to humanity, the AMWU recognises that it will be working class people who will suffer most.

While the previous Howard government refused to set targets for lowering greenhouse gas emissions, the current Rudd Labor government's targets are so low that they would not prevent runaway climate change from occurring. By treating the issue of climate change as an economic problem rather than an environmental emergency, the Rudd government is unlikely to adopt the changes that are urgently required unless pressure is applied.

The AMWU is concerned that many of the solutions being put forward by governments, corporations and sections of the environment movement are ones which will be ineffective in stopping climate change but which will shift the cost of action against global warming from big business to working class people.

For these reasons, the AMWU pledges to involve itself in the campaign to stop global warming. The AMWU believes that the big polluting corporations which are responsible for global warming should be responsible for paying the costs of fixing the problem. Working class people are not responsible for the problem.

For this reason, the AMWU is opposed to measures such as increasing energy bills. Particularly those of low income house holders. The AMWU will support initiatives which provide demonstrable net benefit (in moving from unsustainable to sustainable practices). It notes the claimed potential of such technologies as 'clean coal' and carbon capture and storage. Carbon capture and storage is an experimental technology, not proven anywhere on a commercial scale.

The AMWU is sceptical about the potential of CCS to reduce emissions in the next 20 years as scientists say we must. It retains an open mind on these, and will support them if their viability can be proven and they do not impose unreasonable/any costs on current and future generations. In the meantime, any research and development initiatives should be predominately funded by private industry and openly monitored / audited by the relevant government body and stakeholders.

The AMWU is sceptical about carbon trading as an effective mechanism to address climate change because the market, without strong intervention by governments around the globe, will not reduce emissions. Conference reaffirms its opposition to Nuclear power generation.

The AMWU calls on the government to commit to a radical reduction of greenhouse gases. This policy needs a focus on energy and water conservation by industry. A centrepiece of this requires the government directing resources for climate change into developing and sustaining a domestic manufacturing industry producing renewable energy systems. This industry must be located in communities most effected by a shift to renewable energy generation.

The AMWU commits to campaigning for members in the energy industry not to be disadvantaged. It calls on the government to guarantee and provide all these workers with the appropriate additional training and skills and maintaining as a minimum their current pay and industry conditions in any replacement low or zero carbon generation facilities.

The AMWU recognises that for runaway climate change to be prevented, a mass movement along the lines of the Your Rights at Work campaign is required. The union movement has an important role to play to help develop such a movement.

As a first step, the AMWU needs to:

·invite guest speakers on the issue of climate change to address members' meetings,

· consider clauses in EBAs for factories & worksites to take measures to reduce their greenhouse gas contribution,

· involve itself in the climate change movement,

· develop a training program for delegates around Climate Change,

· regional areas affected by AMWU policy need to be fully consulted and involved in development of AMWU Policies that may effect the region.

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