The hundreds of thousands of students who have staged strikes around the world in support of action on climate change say it is now the adults’ turn. The strike for climate movement is encouraging workers around the world to down tools on Friday, September 20 and spend the day demanding emergency action to tackle the climate crisis.
Strike for climate movement encouraging workers to down tools and demand emergency action
Several global corporations have told media they support their workers taking time off. Clothing company Patagonia went as far as to promise to bail out employees arrested for non-violent environmental activism.
In Australia there is no shortage of major employers that say they are serious about addressing climate change and reducing emissions.
When contacted to ask if they would allow workers to take the day off to send a message to policy makers, there was silence from many — including the nation’s biggest miners.
One of the biggest emitters in the country, Woodside, declined to comment.
ANZ advised that if any of its 45,000 staff wanted to take the day off, they should talk to their line manager and take some sort of approved leave.
Energy Australia and National Australia Bank both confirmed they recognise climate change as a significant challenge for the economy and society, and both give their employees two days of annual “volunteer leave” which they can use to waive placards demanding greater restriction of emissions if they wish.
World heading towards ‘complete social chaos’
Former fossil fuel executive turned climate activist Ian Dunlop has cast doubt on how serious Australian businesses are in backing up their public statements on climate change with real action.
Australia’s major banks have been getting back into fossil fuels over the past year, casting doubt on their seriousness in tackling climate change through their investments.
Mr Dunlop has co-authored several policy documents on the threat to society and human existence climate change poses.
“The reality is, if you look at the agreements that were made in Paris, if we just implement them, we will end up with the world which has temperature increases of 3.5 Celsius,” he said.
“That, in the eyes of some of the major national security organisations around the world, is a world which is complete social chaos.”
He believes the lack of adequate government policy means business will have to take on a greater role.
“We’re already seeing the investment groups, particularly the superannuation funds with long-term horizons, are recognising that this is a threat which is going to be far greater than the global financial crisis in 2008,” he said.
Australian bosses have started caring about
Australian company directors nominate climate change as the number one issue they want the government to address in the long-term, in a survey of more than 1,200 business leaders.
Industry Super Australia said it would allow its employees to attend a day of action.
“We support our workforce to stand up for their values, and would work with any employee who wished to participate to make that possible,” the group said in a statement.
Mr Dunlop pointed to the pressure that the super funds were now placing on emitters and fossil fuel firms to reduce emissions.
“In addition you have the regulators — ASIC, the RBA, APRA — all now following the lead of the Bank of England, Mark Carney and the financial security board with his task force on risk exposure,” he said.
“All of the pressure is coming on and saying we have a risk here, it is not just a figment of somebody’s imagination and this is happening, it will not go away.”