Cornell University

January 24 2011

Promoting Global Dialogue

Global Labor Institute participating in U.N. climate change negotiations

Sean Sweeney, Bill McKibben and Maude BarlowThe Global Labor Institute is organizing a series of labor and climate events in 2011 in preparation for the United Nations' Climate Change negotiations in Durban, South Africa.

Trade unions have official recognition as a civil society group within the annual U.N. negotiations, where ILR is represented by the Global Labor Institute.

Inclusion of labor force interests and workers' rights in the official negotiating text was a major goal achieved by the labor movement in Mexico at the 2010 U.N. climate change negotiations, said Sean Sweeney, director of the Manhattan-based institute.

In Cancun last month, Sweeney and Global Labor Institute colleagues Jill Kubit and Lara Skinner joined 175 trade union delegates from around the world discussing how climate change will impact workers.

In Cancun, GLI organized a meeting between leaders of labor, climate and environmental justice organizations to discuss the role of social movements in pushing the global negotiations forward.

The Dec. 4 discussion, "Building a Global Trade Union and Climate Justice Alliance," featured prominent U.S. climate leader Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org, and water rights activist Maude Barlow. Also participating were trade union leaders Joaquim Turco from the Central de Trabajadores de la Argentina and Roger Toussaint, vice-president of the Transport Workers Union, based in the United States.

The Global Labor Institute organized two workshops at the International Trade Union Confederation's World of Work Pavilion on low-carbon, sustainable transportation and transitioning to a decarbonized energy economy.

At the Diálogo Climático in Cancun City, the institute sponsored a global trade union roundtable on the links between the economic crisis and the climate crisis.

The roundtable brought together trade unionists from more than 30 countries to discuss global trade union policy and prospects for a Global Green New Deal.

The Global Labor Institute, along with the Blue-Green Alliance and U.S. Climate Action Network, also organized a strategy meeting of U.S. unions and environmental group to discuss 2011 priorities and possibilities for joint action.

The ILR team was among 24 Cornell faculty, staff and students at the negotiations who were sponsored by the university’s Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future.

More information on the institute’s work at the 2010 U.N. negotiations is at http://www.ilr.cornell.edu/globallaborinstitute/.