Blog: Transport Workers' Role In Fight Against Climate Change

At our 2014 AGM, the RMT London Transport Regional Council voted to create the position of “Green Officer”. Transport workers have a special role in the fight against climate change because a massive expansion of affordable public transport, under real social ownership, is a vital reform that could drastically reduce carbon emissions. Our fight for jobs is, in an immediate sense, a fight for socially and environmentally-sustainable work.

Serious scientific opinion is now unequivocal in its view that changes to the earth's climate caused by human activity will have catastrophic
ecological effects unless urgently arrested and reversed.

While climate change is an issue for the whole of humanity, it does not affect everyone equally, or evenly. Climate change is a class issue.

Capitalism's exploitation of labour is inexplicably linked to its exploitation of the planet. Working-class people can and must be at the forefront of the struggle for a sustainable economy. We are both the first victims of climate change, from whose effects the rich can protect themselves, and the people with unique power to change the way our society is organised.

Our employers would like us to see the environment as an individual matter: do you cycle to work? Do you use energy-saving light bulbs? While these actions can be important, the threat of catastrophic climate change cannot be addressed at an individual level. We need a discussion in our union, and in the wider labour movement, about how to fight for sustainable work.

Environmental initiatives, like the 2013 scheme to use waste heat from the Northern Line to heat homes in Islington (see, are rolled out with brief fanfare to make City Hall politicians and LU
bosses look good, then quietly wound up. Instead, our employers waste millions on designing and imposing job cuts and ticket office closures.

I want to work with members in the London Transport Region who are interested in environmental and climate issues to organise events and produce materials that make the case for working-class environmentalism: the struggle against our bosses' drive to exploit our labour is also the struggle against capitalism's drive to exploit the planet.

If you're interested, or have ideas for events or campaigning, please get in touch.

Daniel Randall
RMT Industrial rep, Oxford Circus Group and LTRC Green Officer