Businesses must work to tackle CO2 crisis, says TUC

Britain's workplaces must get serious about reducing waste and conserving energy in order to ensure that the UK reaches its 2010 target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the TUC warned this week.

In their report, Greening the Workplace, the TUC and the Trade Union Sustainable Development Advisory Committee (TUSCAC) argued that the UK will fail to reach its greenhouse gas emissions target unless it puts major investment into retraining workers, faces the need to run down old industries and encourage new ones, and becomes a world leader in renewable energy supplies such as wave and tidal.

"Trade unions have made great strides in tackling the challenge of climate change in the workplace, often in partnership with employers, but more needs to be done," Prospect general secretary Paul Noon stated. "TUSDAC's sustainable development policies will be key to helping unions and industry ensure economic growth does not lead to further environmental damage."

Mr Noon told edie that climate change and sustainability were a core trade union issues and that the government needed urgently to rethink its strategy of relying heavily on gas and oil.

"These issues affect us all and will have a profound effect on how we live and work," he said. "We care passionately about the future of our planet. For us, doing nothing is not an option."

The report highlighted the fact that many new jobs were now emerging in the environmental sector, with around 700,000 people currently working in the environmental technologies industries.

It also stated that major workplace changes were bound to occur, particularly in the energy sector, but that the growing renewables and environmental industries markets should help to balance out jobs lost due to "transition", as long as retraining opportunities were offered to those displaced as a result, with more money being invested in this area.

"With climate change high on the government's agenda this year, there are real opportunities for British industry in taking on the green challenge," manufacturing director for British Sugar, Karl Carter stated. "However, the clock is ticking, particularly for transport, which is lagging well behind other sectors in reducing emissions."

"Industry needs to seize the initiative and encourage government to work with business and employees to deliver innovative and practical change in the UK."

By Jane Kettle



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