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Time to Act! conference 2015

Ken Montague, Secretary of the Campaign against Climate Change Trade Union Group, explains what's on at a major national conference in Sheffield on 19 September

September 10, 2015
4 min read

timetoactWhat is the conference about?

The immediate aim of the conference is to contribute to the national and international mobilisation ahead of the UN climate talks in Paris in December. It will also be reporting on, and encouraging involvement in, some of the ongoing campaigns formed in response to the threat of catastrophic climate change. For example, the developing movement for withdrawing pension funds and other investments from companies heavily involved in the production and use of fossil fuels, the national and international trade union campaign for government funded climate jobs, and local protests against fracking.

Why now?

Firstly because world leaders will be meeting in Paris early in December to draw up an agreement following the two-week long “COP 21”talks. It is the most important set of talks about dealing with climate change since the disastrous Copenhagen COP in 2009 and could be the last chance we have of reaching the kind of binding agreement needed to keep climate change within relatively safe bounds. Campaign groups and NGO’s around the world are planning demonstrations and protests on a scale comparable to those last September when 400,000 people took to the streets of New York. For us in Britain it means building for the protests in Paris and the national demonstration for “Climate Justice and Jobs” in London on 29th November.

Any other reason?

The conference will be reporting back on the international climate jobs summit in Paris on 14th and 15th September called by the UK’s “One Million Climate Jobs” campaign and the International Trade Union Confederation. This represents a big step forward for the climate jobs movement which in Britain now has the backing of ten national unions and is seeding itself in other countries, for example Norway, South Africa and the US. Over 160 trade union delegates will be attending from Europe, North America and the Global South. The Sheffield conference also includes a workshop on the prospects for the international climate jobs movement with contributions through Skype from some of the delegates to the Paris summit.

Who has organised the conference and who is it aimed at?

It’s been organised by the Trade Union Group of Campaign against Climate Change and the Sheffield Climate Alliance, which is one of the largest and most successful of the local climate networks. That means it’s for trade unionists who want to know how they can build support for the climate jobs campaign in their unions, but also for anyone who would like to get involved in, or help to develop, other aspects of the climate movement. Everyone is welcome!

Who will be speaking and what will the workshops cover?

Speakers include Asad Rehman, International Campaigner for Friends of the Earth, John Hilary, Executive Director of War on Want, Dani Pafford from 350.org, Suzanne Jeffery, Chair of Campaign against Climate Change, and Louise Haigh, Labour MP for Sheffield Heeley and supporter of Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign for the Labour leadership.

One of the features of the conference is the large number of interactive workshops. In addition to workshops on climate jobs and divestment, others cover topics like:

• Fracking and how to fight it

• What is TTIP and how can we oppose it?

• Communicating climate change – engaging and motivating people of all backgrounds and persuasions

• The Arms to Renewables campaign

• The Government’s war on renewables

• Climate outreach with primary schools and families

• Building locally for the London and Paris demonstrations

• Where is it being held and how can I book a place?

The conference will be taking place at Sheffield College, a short distance from Sheffield station, so can be easily reached from many parts of the country. Directions can be found on the Sheffield Climate Alliance website. Registration is at 10.30. To book a place click here – admission £10, £5 concessions.

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