National Conference Saturday 11th February 2017
‘Climate Refugees’- The Climate Crisis and Population Displacement: Building a Trade Union and Civil Society Response
In the last six years over 140 million people were forced to move because of climate change disasters: droughts, harvest failures and devastating storms. Our warming planet is driving long-term environmental damage and sudden catastrophes. The UN believes that the number of ‘environmental refugees’ could reach 300 million people by the middle of this century.
“Extreme weather events” are an existential threat: Hurricane Sandy inundating New York City. Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, killing over 6,000 people and destroying millions of jobs. Drought, water scarcity and agricultural crises in Somalia, Darfur, Syria and sub-Saharan Africa. Wildfires raging through Fort McMurray, Canada. And flooded cities in the UK. Climate change is devastating jobs and whole economies, and is a growing concern to trade unions for whom effective responses are now a fundamental issue of economic, employment and income security. Yet ‘environmental refugees’ have no legal status in international law and, as yet, no champions across civil society.
‘Climate Refugees’ - The Climate Crisis and Population Displacement: Building a Trade Union and Civil Society Response is supported by trade unions and environmental, refugee and human rights campaigns. It will include expert briefings, and new evidence of the impact of climate change on human security. We aim to dispel myths about refugees, debate a possible new UN human rights framework for environmental refugees, and raise demands for stronger government leadership on this fundamental issue.
Session 1: Climate change and population displacement
Chair: Clara Paillard, President, PCS Culture Group
- Professor Joanna Haigh, FRS, Co-Director of the Grantham Institute at Imperial College
- Amjad Abdulla, Chair of the Alliance of Small Island States (tbc)
- Dave Green, National Officer, Fire Brigades Union
- Sharan Burrow, General Secretary, International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC)(tbc)
Session 2: Building a trade union and civil society response: Panel and debate
Chair: Wilf Sullivan, TUC Race Relations Committee
- Zak Cochrane – Stand Up To Racism - dispelling the myths of migrants
- Asad Rehman, FoE Senior Campaigner, International Climate - the politics of climate migration and the UN Refugee Convention
- Zita Holbourne, Vice-President, PCS -post-colonialism and structural inequalities.
Lunch break with food, art works and music
Sessions 3: Afternoon Workshops Briefing
Briefing: Ken Montague, Campaign Against Climate Change TU group
Breakouts into Strategy Workshops
- Mitigating climate change – unions and campaigns working together – lead Jonathan Neale, Global Climate Jobs
- Raising awareness of climate change impacts across unions, students and the wider public – lead tbc
- Fighting xenophobia and hostility to refugees – lead Zak Cochrane, Stand Up To Racism
- Campaigning internationally to protect climate refugees: a new UN Protocol to the UN Refugee Convention – leads Asad Rehman, FoE, and Dave Green, FBU
Session 4: The way ahead
Strategic priorities from workshops and nominations for Climate Refugees Organising Group
NUT Conference Centre, Hamilton House, Mabledon Place, Euston, London