On the 11th of February four members of Carbon Crew rose ridiculously early to get the train to London for a conference titled; The Climate Crisis and Population Displacement: Building a Trade Union and Civil Society Response. Acting as a unique opportunity to communicate with the public and professionals sharing a similar interest in climate change and it’s linked social issues, the day was broken into four sections.
The morning was dominated by talks given both in person and via video conferencing. With the first session providing an introduction to climate change and the theme of population displacement. As mostly ENV students the introductions acted as revision but really highlighted that population displacement attributed to climate change wasn’t just a problem for the future but that it’s very much a problem now, in the last six years alone over 140 million people were forced to move because of climate and weather related disasters .
Session two focused heavily on trade unions and marginalised communities, providing a new voice on the debate from a student perspective. As it becomes increasingly hard to identify and define a ‘climate refugee’, the lack of legal protection they face became a key focal point for the talks. Whilst interesting points were raised we concluded amongst ourselves that these new voices were very much echoing what we already knew. With the absence of any political figures or media outlets unfortunately felt throughout the day as calls for a consistent, factually correct solidarity narrative went unanswered and potential solutions to problems remained disjointed as councils juggle limited resources between multiple demands.
The afternoon’s workshops facilitated discussion between attendees in an attempt to come up with solutions for the multiple issues associated with population displacement, including building a ‘new economy’. As a nosey and generally curious bunch it was great to discourse with those outside of the educational environment primarily to see who was actively interested in climate change. But also to explore what segments of our education had transferred to common knowledge, to areas where we could illuminate, to fields where we had no experience, as discussions varied from the UN and policies to mitigation and compensation.
As the event overran we had to exit early to ensure we didn’t miss our train back to Norwich, therefore missing the summary session in which the workshop suggestions were brought forward in an attempt to map a plan. Again we were able to conclude amongst ourselves, informed by the day’s discussions that the way forward is unified action, to support both those displaced and at risk as well as action to reduce the threats. Ultimately the day highlighted the importance of legal protection and the fulfilment of human rights internationally of those left vulnerable. As well as continued work on equality and the importance of factual dialogue in our own modern day ‘post-truth’.
An increasingly urgent topic it was great to see action within the trade union network – which spanned far larger than imagined. With already strong educational backgrounds on climate change amongst us we learnt more about climate refugees, the different drivers of and types of climate migration. The day acting as a great opportunity for us to exercise our knowledge and engage in discussion with the general public.
The event was organised by the Campaign against Climate Change and Friends of the Earth. With further support from TUC, FBU, TSSA, CWU, PCS, NUT, Unite, Unison, Stand Up to Racism & BARAC UK. More information on the programme and speakers can be found here; http://www.campaigncc.org/nationalconference.