While the existential risk of climate change continues to grow, public debate remains bitter and Australia’s policy response continues to languish. So where to now for climate action, asks CSIRO Staff Association Secretary Sam Popovski.
THE RE-ELECTION of the Morrison Government in Australia and the continued global prominence of climate change denial has many environmental activists concerned about the future.
In Australia, our confirmed failure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions has only hastened the calls for more urgent action to address the warming of the Earth.
In the Staff Association, our role in representing the interests of our members is varied, from saving and advocating for jobs in environmental and climate change research, through to working with the organisation to reduce its own carbon footprint.
Over a decade ago, the Staff Association developed a sustainability claim for enterprise bargaining that resulted in new obligations in the 2011-2014 Enterprise Agreement (EA):
The parties to this Agreement recognise that the involvement of staff including at the local level is critical in improving the environmental sustainability of CSIRO in the areas of greenhouse gas emissions, energy, water and waste.
CSIRO will provide opportunities for staff contributions toward improving the environmental sustainability of CSIRO’s operations through the implementation of an Environmental Sustainability Strategy.
These EA obligations kick started CSIRO’s attention to its own actions in addressing climate change and now detailed outcomes are transparent in the annual report each year.
As an organisation that also places value in the communities we support, the Staff Association continues to promote activity in the union movement to support workers taking action on climate change, and to partner with groups such as the Australian Youth Climate Coalition.
Recent climate change news and events may have left many of us deflated. But our experiences in the Staff Association point to a way forward: by getting together, we generate results.
Right now, there are things we all can do:
- Provide suggestions on how CSIRO can improve its environmental performance. However big or small, please contact us with your thoughts. We are taking ideas to CSIRO Executive and drafting potential claims for enterprise bargaining.
- Sign up to the International Trade Union Confederation day on 26 June to Climate Proof Our Work. In particular, send a photo and let other workers around the world know why your job, your union and your workplace are important in addressing climate change.
- Save the date of Friday 20 September. On this day, climate change school strikers will join supporters from all communities in the Global Climate Strike.
Fundamentally, the Staff Association’s objective is make CSIRO a better place to work and advance the working conditions of our members.
A considerable time ago, Staff Association members decided that the sustainability of our planet is as important to the endeavours of science and technology as is a funding grant or a milestone report.
So any time we can all spare to make a difference is extremely valuable.
- Sam Popovski is the Secretary of the CSIRO Staff Association.