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People not profit – Young transport workers join the fight for climate justice

23 Sep 2022

The ITF is standing behind the Fridays for Future strike, taking place on 23 September. More than 677 actions in 404 cities will take place as young people call for reparations and climate justice.

Young people are taking the demand for urgent action on climate to political leaders around the world, proving that the power of democratic voice is alive and well and young transport workers are adding their voices in support.

We are in a race against time as dangerous impacts of climate change are happening today. 3.5 billion people – 45% of the world population live in areas of “high vulnerability” to climate change and will be heavily impacted by floods, droughts, or extreme weather events.

“Young transport workers are paying the price for climate destruction wrought by others. We keep our communities and economies moving as we battle new heat extremes and rising sea levels, deal with floods, storm surges, sandstorms and other climate disasters. The countries which have exploited the planet for their own advancement must take responsibility for the increased dangers we face.” Shanitah Birungi, ATGWU, Uganda. Chairperson of ATGWU Youth Council. 

Fragile transport systems in developing countries are particularly exposed to the dangerous effects of climate change as ports, railway lines, runways and roads are damaged. Parts of the world which have contributed least to climate change, and which are least equipped to manage the harms are bearing the brunt of climate led loss and damage to their transport systems. By 2050, Loss and Damage is expected to cost from USD 1 to 1.8 trillion – on top of losses of life and other non-economic harms.

“The climate catastrophe compounds the harms young transport workers are already facing. Many of us can only access informal work with no protections and poor conditions. We did not cause this and we are particularly vulnerable. That’s why we are demanding action on Loss and Damage – the issue of how the world steps up and helps nations suffering the most extreme weather impacts and those nations which can no longer been protected from climate change.” Preeti Singh, AIRF, India. ITF young railway workers representative. 

The ITF is taking a delegation of transport workers including women and young transport workers to COP 27 in Egypt to demand commitments on climate finance to secure climate justice and worker justice.

“Transport workers – the men and women who keep goods and passengers moving on the seas, roads, railways and in the air -  are left to deal with the consequences of dangerous climate change.

Every year we see the risks increase for workers as we try to secure safe and healthy working places, decent working conditions and secure jobs. We need every government to have a plan to decarbonise transport, every employer needs to have a plan to make their industries climate friendly and workers must have a seat at the table to design the Just Transition required to get us there,” said Stephen Cotton, ITF General Secretary.