Nurses’ Unions Lead on Bold Agenda for Climate and Health — TUED Bulletin 90

September 4, 2019

Two items in this TUED Bulletin:
1. Nurses’ Unions Lead on Bold Agenda for Climate and Health
2. What Ever Happened to the Energy Transition?

1. Nurses’ Unions Lead on Bold Agenda for Climate and Health

Nurses and their unions have been at the forefront of many key struggles to minimize the negative health impacts of current and rising fossil fuel use, and for strong policy responses to the unfolding climate crisis. But despite their best efforts—and the efforts of countless others throughout and beyond the global labor movement—emissions continue to rise, and health outcomes and indicators continue to worsen.

The conclusion is by now unavoidable, and increasingly acknowledged even by more “mainstream” voices: Current policies—which are directed towards ensuring lucrative investment opportunities for big business and the rich—have been a massive failure. Addressing the threat of climate change to health—and to the future for workers—will require a radical change at the level of politics and policy.

“We Are All Energy Unions Now”

The TUED project team recently co-produced a major report for National Nurses United, in preparation for a special conference of Global Nurses United. Titled, Nurses’ Unions, Climate Change and Health: A Global Agenda for Action (pdf), the report provides nurses and their unions with important information regarding climate-related health risks. It summarizes what is happening now, and what health-related climate science suggests could happen if current trends continue.

After a brief overview of the policy and political history and current energy and emissions trends, the report highlights the “gap between ambition and action,” and the need for a different climate politics. The report also takes up key issues raised by major recent reports that are relevant to understanding and addressing the health impacts of climate change, including the IPCC’s Special Report on 1.5 Degrees Celsius, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Special Report on Health and Climate Change.

A separate, dedicated chapter summarizes major primary, secondary and tertiary human health impacts of climate change, in order to provide readers a broad map of this extremely complex and technical terrain, and guidance on how to learn more for those interested.

Finally, the report offers observations and suggestions for how healthcare workers and their unions, and the labor movement more broadly, can and must take up the struggle against the accelerating climate and health emergencies, and together formulate a bold agenda for global action—one that places workers and communities at the center, and that embraces the power of organized labor in fighting for the future.

Although written for nurses’ unions in particular, the report may be of interest to all climate, environmental, health and labor activists. Our hope is that it can help further equip not only nurses and other healthcare workers, but also the labor movement more generally, to wage the struggle for climate protection and climate justice with a clearer understanding of the challenges that must be faced in order to achieve it.  We hope you will find it useful, and would welcome any feedback.

2. What Ever Happened to the Energy Transition?

In June, TUED’s John Treat was asked to write a short piece for South Africa’s Amandla! Magazine, summarizing recent energy and investment trends, with an eye towards ongoing debates in South Africa (where John lived for many years).

The piece includes important data on coal consumption (which, despite what many headlines suggest, is set to remain at roughly current levels for many years to come) and natural gas, as well as recent data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) and reporting on decisions by the Chinese government regarding renewable energy subsidies—which together provide even further confirmation of TUED’s analysis that investor-focused climate policy has been a comprehensive failure.

The piece is available on the TUED website here.

By |2019-09-04T17:36:02+00:00September 4th, 2019|News, Uncategorized|Comments Off on Nurses’ Unions Lead on Bold Agenda for Climate and Health — TUED Bulletin 90