Unions are holding a national meeting today in Sydney to develop solutions to the growing problem of climate change and global warming that will protect jobs, including those of coal miners, and at the same time put Australian industries on a more environmentally sustainable footing.


The Union Forum on Global Warming and Sustainable Energy is being chaired by ACTU President Sharan Burrow and will hear today from experts on the problem of climate change as well as the Shadow Minister for the Environment Mr Peter Garrett.


Ms Burrow said of the forum:


“This event is an important step in formulating a clear policy direction for the union movement which is a significant voice in industry and environmental sustainability. The main aim is for the union movement to take a stronger role in providing leadership on climate change.


“Climate change one of the most urgent problems the world faces today and we must act now – not in 10 years time and this conference is another step towards securing an energy future for Australia that strikes the right balance between sustainability of industry and security of employment.


“Australia is indeed the lucky country when it comes to natural resources, including wind and solar and we need to be leading the world in clean and green technology by investing in renewable energy sources, creating more sustainable agricultural industries and meeting the scientific challenge of clean coal and gas power generation.


“Today we will be hearing from experts, including Don Henry (ACF), Tony Maher (CFMEU), and Peter Garrett (ALP). The discussion will centre on the following areas:

  • carbon trading options
  • clean coal and gas technologies
  • renewable energy
  • water management
  •  ethical investment 
  • sustainable development including greater use of green building codes.


    “We need better solutions than the Howard Government is putting forward. Nuclear energy is not right for Australia and the union movement is aiming to show that we have a number of options available to us that are more sustainable and job-friendly than the nuclear path.


    “There are indeed some things that could be done straight away to get Australia back on the right track with climate change, including but not limited to: signing the Kyoto Protocol and ending our international isolation on global warming, participation in international carbon-trading efforts and joining with other nations to be a positive example to other big emitters of greenhouse gases.


    “Australia’s unions have a responsibility to find and implement solutions to climate change and global warming that protect jobs and do not destabilize our industries. Indeed, the development of renewable energy sources and cleaner technologies offer the prospect of new growth areas for jobs and the Australian economy that need to be urgently explored,” said Ms Burrow.