This week trade unionists from around the world will travel to Bali for the December 3rd launch of negotiations for a successor to the Kyoto Protocol limiting greenhouse gasses. It will include delegates from such U.S unions as the Electrical Workers (IUE), Mine Workers, Service Employees, Boilermakers, Steelworkers, Communication Workers, Transport Workers (TWU), and UNITE HERE garment and textile workers. It will also include the AFL-CIO Industrial Union Council as well as such labor-oriented groups as the Blue-Green Alliance, the Cornell Global Labor Institute, and the Labor Research Association.
The Kyoto Protocol was signed by 172 countries – not including the U.S. The AFL-CIO, which then represented the great majority of all U.S. unions, opposed the Kyoto protocol. What will be the stance of American labor toward an even stronger version for the future?
The devastating realities of climate change, and the scientific consensus around its cause and cure, are shifting the global political climate. In Australia, Prime Minister John Howard is defeated by the Australian Labor Party partly because of his intransigent opposition to effective action on global warming. Rightwing French Prime Minister Nicolas Sarkozy visits Washington and lectures George Bush on his failure to address the global warming crisis. Rupert Murdoch announces his papers will go green. A major power company cuts back on new plants because they would contribute to global warming. It remains to be seen whether this trend will also change American labor.