Workers and Trade Unions for Climate Solidarity: Tackling climate change in a neoliberal world, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Workers and Trade Unions for Climate Solidarity

Tackling climate change in a neoliberal world, 1st Edition

By Paul Hampton


212 pages | 1 B/W Illus.

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This book is a theoretically rich and empirically grounded account of UK trade union engagement with climate change over the last three decades. It offers a rigorous critique of the mainstream neoliberal and ecological modernisation approaches, extending the concepts of Marxist social and employment relations theory to the climate realm. The book applies insights from employment relations to the political economy of climate change, developing a model for understanding trade union behaviour over climate matters. The strong interdisciplinary approach draws together lessons from both physical and social science, providing an original empirical investigation into the climate politics of the UK trade union movement from high level officials down to workplace climate representatives, from issues of climate jobs to workers’ climate action.

This book will be of great interest to students and researchers in environmental politics, climate change and environmental sociology.


"This is a provocative book in the best sense of the word. The exploitation of nature and the exploitation of labour are two sides of the same capitalist dynamic; effective resistance to both requires a common struggle in which green activists and trade unionists combine as equal partners."Richard Hyman, London School of Economics and Political Science, UK

"Environmental Labour studies is a young and burgeoning research field. This book is a landmark publication offering the first theoretically and empirically brilliant analysis of trade union’s actions for climate change in the UK, suggesting that the workers’ movement can become an environmental innovator in the struggle for climate justice."Nora Räthzel, Umeå University, Sweden

"Paul Hampton’s analysis is built on a thorough review of mainstream and radical literature on the politics of climate change, together with an in depth narrative of worker and trade union attempts to grapple with climate change and the various forms of ‘green capitalism’ thinking in the UK context."–Paul Burkett, Indiana State University, USA

"Who has the interest and power to confront the apocalyptic dangers of global warming, and the vested interests blocking mitigation? This book tackles the largely ignored question of agency. Theoretically sophisticated and empirically thorough, it explores the potential of the working class and its organisations to lead an effective response."–Constance Lever-Tracy, University of South Australia, Australia

"Paul Hampton has assembled a wealth of evidence to demonstrate that trade unions are not only becoming increasingly important participants in climate change debates, but important actors in contributing to a more sustainable planet. This book deserves to be read by all those who profess to be interested not only in climate change and the environment, but also labour studies."–David Uzzell, University of Surrey, UK

"A ground-breaking book on the most timely of topics: how workers and their trade unions are organising in order to fuse struggles for social justice and against climate change. Highly recommended to anyone interested in environmental politics, industrial relations, social movements and sustainable development."Romain Felli, University of Geneva and Swiss National Science Foundation, Switzerland

"At last a book arguing that presents convincing evidence of climate-conscious trade unionism, whether through environmental representatives or bargaining for a just transition, inspiring us all to become strategic climate actors."–Linda Clarke, University of Westminster, UK

Table of Contents

1. Introduction 2. Climate politics and the potential for climate solidarity 3. Trade unions, climate and employment in a neoliberal world 4. Trade unions and climate politics in the UK 5. Workplace climate representation: Prisoners of neoliberalism or swords of climate justice? 6. The Vestas occupation and climate politics 7. Climate and class: A missing link

About the Author

Paul Hampton received his PhD in climate change and employment relations from London Metropolitan University. He is head of research and policy at the Fire Brigades Union in the UK.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Climate, Work and Society

Globally, the world is browning, not greening. In 2010 greenhouse gas emissions rose 5.9%, the largest annual increase since measurement began. In 2013 the earth’s atmosphere crossed the dangerous threshold of 400 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The complexity, destructiveness and speed of changes to the climate have made global warming an urgent social issue. It is a challenge the world cannot ignore.

Climate change has already shaken up the nature of work and the distribution of employment within and between countries, regions and communities. It is changing how we work, what we produce, and where we can produce it. It disrupts the lives of workers and the global supply chains of transnational corporations, undermines governments and creates a new class of precarity—climate migrants. But at the same time as global warming destroys livelihoods and communities, it is forcing the emergence of new ways to organise work. Climate-related occupations and professions are defensively springing up, and trade unions and farmers’ unions in some countries are factoring environmental stewardship into their 21st century responsibilities as custodians of decent work for the next generations.

The world of work is a crucial, although neglected, part of the climate struggle. Work and workplaces of every size—factories, offices and mines, farms, schools, hospitals and home offices—are significant producers of greenhouse gas emissions. In developed countries, work can produce 80% or more of the greenhouse gases created by human activity. Polluters yes, but can workers and unions also be powerful actors in the struggle to slow global warming?

In The Routledge Studies in Climate, Work and Society series, scholars and other thinkers at the forefront of constructing a strategic link between work and climate change contribute to identifying the issues, evaluating policies and silences, tracking change, and stimulating international exchange of ideas and experience. Collectively, the books in this series will emphasise fresh thinking, strategic creativity, international and inter-sectoral comparisons and contribute to the further development of the role of work in societal responses to global warming.

Series Editor: Dr. Carla Lipsig-Mummé, Professor of Work and Labour Studies, York University, Canada

Editorial Board:

Professor Elaine Bernard, Executive Director, Labor and Worklife Program Harvard Law School, Harvard University, US

Professor Emeritus Richard Hyman, Industrial Relations, London School of Economics and Political Science UK

Dr. Kenneth Odero, Climate XL-Africa, Kenya

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Development / Sustainable Development
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / Environmental Policy