This is Trade Union Week in the Scottish Parliament, an opportunity to showcase some of the work of the movement in Scotland and discuss current issues with MSPs.
I was speaking at a lunchtime meeting on green workplaces chaired by Patrick Harvie MSP. I was able to highlight the work UNISON has been doing to promote green workplaces in Scotland. This includes a successful Climate Change Fund bid to develop green workplaces in South Lanarkshire Council. The project has only just started but there has been a good response from members. Thirty have already volunteered to become Green Champions. The strength of workplace greening is that it is much more likely to achieve the culture change we need than top down initiatives driven by employers. They should also transfer what they do into the home – a major source of greenhouse gas emissions.
This led on to a discussion about what employers and government can do. The Scottish Government is consulting over statutory guidance to public bodies on how they should meet their public duty obligations under the Climate Change (S) Act. The current draft guidance is a good example of a traditional top down leadership model that rarely succeeds in making real change. At best it will be another tick box policy, or a plaque on the wall. In their negotiations over this year’s local government budget, CoSLA even sought to have their climate change obligations suspended. No real surprise, as they have sought to water down the commitment at every stage in the Bill’s progress. But it does indicate how far we still need to go to tackle climate change in Scotland.