Taking action on the climate emergency

Climate change threatens our health by increasing the risks of heatwaves, bushfires, droughts and storms, displacing people and straining our health and food systems. We are facing a climate emergency. Not only are there direct physical health and well-being issues associated with the climate emergency but there are growing concerns around the mental health and well-being of people, especially younger people, who are facing an uncertain climate future.

You will have read in past STAT Reports about the Union’s support for members taking action to tackle climate change. And it has never been more important for us to take action. Every week there’s an article about the state of the environment and the climate with more severe storms and weather systems being reported on. Unfortunately we have federal government filled with people who either deny climate change is happening or claim Australia’s impact is so small there is no point in taking action until other nations start to take action in reducing their emissions. We know the Government uses this logic solely to defend its ‘do nothing’ approach to taking any action against climate change.

Climate change is not just a threat that’s somehow off in the never never; a concern for the future. The threat of climate change is real and it’s happening now. More and more governments around the world are officially classifying climate change as a ‘climate emergency’.

Working on the front lines of our healthcare systems means you already know there are growing health impacts associated with the changing climate. You are seeing those impacts. You are seeing the harm being done to people from the increasing severe weather events we’re experiencing. You are seeing the mental harm being done to people as our climate changes while we continue to hear from climate change deniers that it’s all a hoax perpetuated by big science.

It doesn’t help when our federal government, despite all the evidence, continues to bury its head in the sand declaring that fossil fuels are an important part of Australia’s future energy mix. Sadly we have an opposition that apparently supports fossil fuels being part of Australia’s future energy mix. This is happening while more and more people in the health industry are coming out to highlight the impacts the changing climate are having, with the latest group being the Australian Medical Association. The AMA made it quite clear that from their perspective we are in a climate emergency and there will be significant health impacts unless the world drastically cuts its emissions.

That’s why it’s never been more important that we as union members take action and recognise that we are in a climate emergency. It’s an issue that the Victorian Trades Hall and the Australian Council of Trade Unions has identified as a problem and one that union members must take on like we take on threats to our rights at work.

On 20 September students across Australia and the world will start a week of climate emergency activism starting with a huge strike action.

We stand in solidarity with the students’ strike action and the Union encourages all members to support the strike by attending with your family, friends and colleagues, or in any other way you can. If you’re considering supporting the action by attending the strike you might want to consider taking leave or using TOIL. Since the school strike will be happening during lunch time you might think about having a longer lunch but be mindful of your shift requirements.

If you’re concerned that attending the strike might be difficult you can still show your support by organising a workplace action. This can be as simple as having a special lunch to highlight the gravity of the climate emergency or taking selfies and sharing them on social media. There are lots of ways you can support he school strike while at work.

You can find out more about the next school strike for climate here and you can find resources to help promote the climate emergency action here.

Paul Elliott

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