Climate change: United Nations' Cop26 summit in Glasgow must not be disrupted by strike action – Scotsman comment

Threatening to go on strike during a major event is a well-known union tactic that can produce swift results.

The United Nations' Cop26 summit in Glasgow is too important to be disrupted by strike action (Picture: John Devlin)

The problem with the RMT union’s recommendation to its members to strike is they plan to take action not during the Commonwealth Games or an arts festival, but for “the whole duration” of the United Nations’ Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow in November.

The GMB union has also suggested it could go on strike during the summit, with its general secretary Gary Smith saying: “We’ve got filthy streets and kids going to school hungry, and here we are welcoming the world to talk about this big new future. I am deeply uncomfortable with that.”

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Are they to be joined by every union in the city as their leaders seek to use the summit as leverage for an array of ‘First World problems’?

The Paris Agreement was hailed as a great success because the nations of the world agreed to take the action necessary to avoid “dangerous” climate change.

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ScotRail strikes threatened by RMT during Cop26 conference in Glasgow

However, amid concerns that the situation is becoming dangerous more quickly than we thought, nations have been failing to live up to their promises.

If the talks in November are successful, the Glasgow Agreement could be the one which stops us from proceeding too far down the road towards a world where devastating storms and vast, raging wildfires are increasingly the norm. Our current direction of travel, if maintained, also risks of crossing multiple tipping points that lead to unstoppable, ‘runaway’ climate change and, ultimately, Armageddon.

There are many things wrong with life in modern Scotland that need to be addressed, but they are dwarfed by climate change. So it is not anti-union or right-wing to oppose strike action during Cop26. And it is not a judgement on the disputes themselves.

It is a plea to give this vitally important summit the best possible chance of success. We are sure many union members will share this view and they should contact their leaders to make their opinions known.

Cop26 is about finding practical, sensible ways to cut carbon emissions as quickly as possible while maintaining the health of our economies. Do that and we will indeed enter “this big new future”. But everyone needs to recognise that this summit is also about ensuring that we actually have one.

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