‘Climate Refugees’- The Climate Crisis and Population Displacement: Building a Trade Union and Civil Society Response


Organised by the Campaign against Climate Change and Friends of the Earth, supported by the TUC, FBU, TSSA, CWU, PCS, NUT, Unite, Unison, Stand Up to Racism & BARAC UK

Saturday 11th February 2017

Book tickets SOLD OUT - tickets may be available on the door

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In the last six years over 140 million people were forced to move because of climate and weather related disasters: droughts, harvest failures and devastating storms. Our warming planet is driving long-term environmental damage and sudden catastrophes and exacerbating existing global inequalities. The UN believes that 300 million people could be displaced from their homes by the middle of this century. “Extreme weather events” are an existential threat: Hurricane Sandy inundating New York City. Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, killing over 6,000 people and destroying millions of jobs. Drought, water scarcity and agricultural crises in Somalia, Darfur, Syria and sub-Saharan Africa. Wildfires raging through Fort McMurray, Canada. And flooded cities in the UK.

Climate change is devastating peoples lives and livelihoods and whole economies, and is a growing concern to trade unions for whom effective responses are now a fundamental issue of justice - economic, employment and income security. Yet people displaced from their homes have no legal status in international law, and are vilified as 'economic migrants'. The overwhelming majority are given safe haven by other poor countries, whilst in the West, racism and xenophobia are leading to demands for more walls and fences.

‘Climate Refugees’ - The Climate Crisis and Population Displacement: Building a Trade Union and Civil Society Response is supported by trade unions and environmental, refugee and human rights campaigns. It will include expert briefings, and new evidence of the impact of climate change on human security. We aim to dispel myths about refugees, debate the need for the need for a global response based on justice and solidarity including the need for legal protection for those being displaced by the climate crisis, and discuss how we can build a powerful movement that can demand stronger government leadership on this fundamental issue.

Full programme below. Please book your tickets through Eventbrite. Tickets range from £5-£10.

We are charging an entrance fee to help us cover costs, but we do not want financial circumstances to deter people from attending, and we are aware that many of those who might want to attend may well not have funds. In this event, please contact the campaign by emailing climatetradeunion@gmail.com and we can provide free entrance.

Location: NUT Conference Centre, Hamilton House, Mabledon Place, Euston, London

Facebook event

Session 1: Climate change and population displacement

Chair: Clara Paillard, President, PCS Culture Group

  • Diane Holland, Deputy Secretary General, UNITE
  • Professor Joanna Haigh, FRS, Co-Director of the Grantham Institute at Imperial College
  • Amjad Abdulla, Chair of the Alliance of Small Island States (tbc)
  • Dave Green, National Officer, Fire Brigades Union
  • Asad Rehman, Senior Campaigner, International Climate, Friends of the Earth


Session 2: Building a trade union and civil society response: Panel and debate

Chair: Wilf Sullivan, TUC Race Relations Committee

  • Zak Cochrane – Stand Up To Racism - dispelling the myths of migrants
  • Asad Rehman, Senior Campaigner, International Climate, FoE - the politics of climate migration and the UN Refugee Convention
  • Zita Holbourne, Vice-President, PCS, BARAC -post-colonialism and structural inequalities
  • Chidi King, Head of Equalities, International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC)

Lunch break with food, art works and music

There will be an art exhibition in the day entitled Displacement , participating artists from the Roots Culture Identity arts collective, curated by Zita Holbourne.


Session 3: Afternoon Workshops Briefing

Breakouts into Strategy Workshops
  • The Planetary Emergency: why isn't the UK govt acting – led by Jonathan Neale, Global Climate Jobs
  • How do we build power in trade unions and communities on the issue of climate refugees? 
  • Creating a solidarity narrative on climate refugees and migration - led by Zak Cochrane, Stand Up To Racism
  • Legal Protection for climate displaced people: What is and how we can win it? - led by Asad Rehman, FoE
  • NEW: Moving Stories: testimonies exploring climate change and migration - led by Alex Randall, Programme manager: Climate Change and Migration Coalition


Session 4: The way ahead

Chair: Suzanne Jeffery, Chair, Campaign Against Climate Change Trade Union group

Strategic priorities from workshops and the next steps to build a Climate Refugee Coalition





























Saturday, February 11, 2017 - 10:00 to 17:00