THE Scottish Socialist Party and our paper the Scottish Socialist Voice fully accept the scientific evidence on climate change and agree that we are facing a climate emergency.

The truly hard question, as one famous socialist put it, is what is to be done?

It is good news that governments have responded to growing public awareness, raised particularly from groups such as Extinction Rebellion, by declaring climate emergencies and entered a bidding war as to who can get to a carbon-free country first.

But we have to be totally realistic and face the hard fact that virtually all today’s politicians are committed to working within a free market, free trade globalised economy which is dominated by powerful companies and financiers.

Indeed, it is this economic model which has created the very crisis we all now urgently need to address. The economic model which ruthlessly mines minerals, burns oil, lies about car pollution and floods our seas with plastic.

As socialists, we are entitled to question if the corporate leopard can change its spots and break with its planet trashing, people exploiting ways or will it, as so often in the past, resort to glossy PR and greenwash?

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In our view, time is too short for us to sit about while they make their minds up – the work of fashioning a serious alternative must be set in hand without delay. However, at the centre of such an approach lies the key question of, in democratic societies, winning not just acceptance but active support of our fellow citizens for the immense changes needed.

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Rightly or wrongly, for many people the messages about climate change are often that we face global disaster of an almost unimaginable scale and this can only be dealt with by slashing of living standards, personal consumption and comforts. Our message is that such an outcome can not only be avoided, but that by breaking with solutions based on market-led greed and adopting a collective human approach we can stabilise both our climate and stabilise working-class communities currently impoverished by insecure work and poverty pay.

Away from the headline-hogging reports about government climate “action plans”, much real work on such an alternative is under way, led by bodies such as the Campaign Against Climate Change’s trade union group.

The campaign, which is backed by a number of UK trade unions, has published an alternative entitled One Million Climate Jobs which sharply challenges those who equate environmentalism with hard times for workers. The jobs would come across a range of services and industries from retrofitting existing houses, developing and constructing renewable energy equipment, to a much expanded public transport system. Much of this work would be state-led and delivered by a public National Climate Service.

Such a visionary approach would see effectively the re-industrialisation and re-skilling of many of Scotland’s communities devastated by the closures of works and yards providing skilled work, stable employment and real social cohesion.

Yet the evidence is that such an approach will only be taken if a massive campaign including unions, environmentalists, socialists and communities can be mounted in support.

At the STUC conference in Dundee last month delegates discussed a report entitled Broken Promises And Offshored Jobs which contrasted the repeated promises of renewable energy jobs and the less impressive reality. It, for example, highlights the low level of local equipment in offshore wind.

The best-known example of this is BiFab – which although formally saved by the Scottish Government still operates in a system depending on winning contracts in an international market. This will see equipment made in Indonesia installed in a wind farm off St Andrews about 20 miles from the Burntisland yard after they failed to win the contract.

This is a striking example of why the STUC statement on Just Transition presented to the congress rightly calls for a major public sector role with union input to ensure workers interests’ are paramount.

The Scottish Socialist Voice, like the SSP, has a long record of supporting solutions to the challenges facing both people and planet, such as our long-standing demand for free public transport as a measure to deliver reduced pollution and greater social inclusion.

Our forum on June 29 in Edinburgh will discuss the policies needed to both tackle climate change and win real gains for Scotland’s working-class communities. I will be joined on the platform by Norwegian trade unionist Asbjorn Wahl, who has played a leading role in building support for Red/Green policies in the international trade union movement, where he was until recently climate change spokesman of the International Transport Workers Federation.

Simply stated, he takes the view that “climate change is a class issue”.

Also joining me on the platform will be a speaker from Extinction Rebellion (XR) Scotland.

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XR’s campaign of civil disobedience has successfully shifted the public consciousness away from debating “if” or “when” something should be done to how climate change should be tackled.

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With XR’s first stated aim – of Parliament declaring a climate emergency – having been achieved, the movement now will have to engage with the politics of climate change and the power of capital which pulls politics’ strings. The Scottish Socialist Voice will continue to cover campaigns to

deal with climate change and give space to the case for socialist solutions to it.

We offer support to XR activists and invite them, and other climate campaigners, to participate in this forum in the hope that we might develop the political solutions to advance the environmental movement. Entry is free and all are welcome at this important event.

The forum will take place on Saturday, June 29, at the Grassmarket Centre Edinburgh from 11am to 1pm. Tickets can be found at

Róisín McLaren is national co-spokesperson of the Scottish Socialist Party