Greenman's Occasional Organ

Ecosocialist. Syndicalist. Critical Techno-Progressive.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Coal Debate - Welcome, But Needs To Be Broader

Dave Douglass and his IWW branch have been instrumental in getting together a day of debate scheduled for early November around the question of the challenge to working class organisations posed by climate change, with particular reference to the coal industry. This is a discussion that needs to continue - it was good that there was some engagement led by Scargill and Douglass at the Kingnorth climate camp, although events at the time (other things happening at the time of the meetings) led to less impact and meaningful exchange and progress than would have been desired.

However, the meeting in the North East as currently constituted looks a little one sided at the moment with a lot of NUM heavyweights "up against" in a somewhat confrontational style, some anarcho-greenie types, who though whilst admirably committed to the cause of combatting climate change are hardly representative of the whole movement. It would be useful to have more people involved who are technically and scientifically qualified to comment on the most controversial issues like the viability of, and likely timescales for effective carbon capture and storage (CCS). It would also be useful to have representation from the Campaign Against Climate Change Trade Union Group like Roy Wilkes or a socialist perspective from someone like Jonathan Neale or a rep of Workers' Climate Action, or an ecosocialist perspective from a rep of Green Left or the Alliance For Green Socialism or the Green Party Trade Union Group. This would give more balance and increase the chances for some meaningful progress and constructive debate. This issue is bigger than "the Climate Camp versus the NUM" which in my opinion is not a particularly constructive way of framing the debate. What is needed is hammering out what a just transition to a low emissions economy might look like and how workers and their organisations can help to bring this about.

Here is the current info from the North East about the projected meeting -

Labour Movement Conference;
Class, Climate Change and Clean Coal

The Climate Campers and The Unions.

The Upstairs Lounge
The Bridge Hotel
Castle Garth
Newcastle Upon Tyne

1st November 2008
11-30 - 5-30

Speakers and Agenda

(in order to maximise debate the conference will run strictly to starting times and invited speakers will be set time limits)

Davie Hopper, Gen Sec, Durham Miners Association
(NE Area NUM) Chair and introduction to conference

David Douglass, IWW (and retired NUM official)
A brief overview on ‘the environment’ and class in the politics of energy

Rachel Whittaker, Wrekin Anarchist Group, Climate
Direct actionist;

Arthur Scargill’ Hon President National Union Mineworkers. Which way for energy?

Paul Chatterton; Leeds University and Climate Camp Activist. Why Not Coal?

Debate and Discussion on first half of conference.

Mid day, break 1-30/ 2-00 pm
In the interests of leaving time for debate, comrades urged to just take half hour food break at this point and save their main meal until 5-30 at the end of the conference, there are numerous eating places and cafes within five minutes walk of the venue in the Bigg Market. We advise taking packed lunch for the mid day break.

Chris Kitchen; General Secretary NUM
Chair and introduction to second half

Mr Bob Crow, General Secretary, Rail, Maritime and Transport Union; How we view it.

Kev Bland, Green Anarchism and Climate Camp direct actionist. How we see it.

Ian Lavery, President NUM and International Energy and miners Organisation; Prospects for Coal Production and consumption worldwide.

Paul Morrison; Greenpeace and Climate Camp Activist.

Stan Herschel, Regional Organiser RMT.
On or off the rails on Energy and Climate.

Davie Guy, President North East Area of NUM (and DMA) Prospects for revival of the Great Northern Coalfield.

Discussion and debate and questions from the floor
End of conference 5-30; go for some dinner in the toon.
Social 7-30 with live bands in The Bridge, or the delights of the ‘the toon’ on a Sat night, or stay downstairs in the bar for a more leisurely drink ____________ _________ _________ _________ __
(Invited but not confirmed at time of publicity UNITE, Community, GMB, Powerfuel)
Organised by IWW Tyne and Wear in conjunction with The NUM in association with RMT , Newcastle Central Branch 1901 Unite, and the ‘Green’ movement.

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At 6:56 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this Greenman. I very much agree with you that the debate is currently very one sided, indeed it looks like a 'set up'. And I would be more than happy to participate. Do you know how I can get in touch with the organisers? Please drop me an email


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