Graham Petersen, GJA Secretary
07879 492339
environment, employment & skills

Breaking News

Climate and the Election

Will Climate Change figure as an election issue? The planned speech quoted in the Independent recently highlights the Conservative’s vision of how the economy will be run. The alternative to Government policies on climate and environmental pollution can be a vote winner. Don’t let the ideology exposed in the quote below win the day.

Tim Hitchens, the director general of economic and consular affairs at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), will say in a speech later this month that the UK must change its focus to carry out Prime Minister Theresa May’s vision of the country as a “great, global trading nation”.

“You have a crucial role to play in posts in implementing our new approach to prosperity against the huge changes stemming from last year’s Brexit vote,” the notes seen by The Sunday Times read.

“Trade and growth are now priorities for all posts – you will all need to prioritise developing capability in this area. Some economic security-related work like climate change and illegal wildlife trade will be scaled down.”

Air quality continues to grab the headlines

An article in The  Times today (15.04.17) reveals new evidence that air pollution is becoming the number one public health issue. It reinforces the need to produce the GJA on-line course due for release next month. This will identify why this is a workplace issue as well as a community one.

Watch this space.BWTUC Press release 


“Air pollution is a public health emergency and this is the time for action and clear commitments.” says Graham Petersen from Battersea and Wandsworth Trades Union Council. 

BWTUC, the South West London arm of the national TUC, has agreed to launch a major campaign for clean air in Wandsworth as figures for Nitrogen Dioxide emissions in Putney shows that the annual average for 2016 is three times the legal limit of 40ug/m3.

BWTUC will seek to work with political and other civic bodies in the borough, to galvanise support for action by government and others to reduce emissions of pollution harmful to human health and restore clean air in all parts of the borough. In particular, BWTUC will work with affiliated trades unions to get action from employers to help cut emissions. 

Graham Petersen, a Tooting resident and union activist heading up the campaign for BWTUC, said “in last week’s local Guardian newspaper, Council leaders claimed that Putney ‘pollution levels have actually fallen in recent years.’¹ “

BWTUC assessment of the statistics indicates that this statement fails to provide the full picture. There has been an improvement in pollution levels since 2011 but this appears to have stalled for some measurements. The figures from Kings College London for Nitrogen Dioxide show that the improvement has levelled out since 2014. For the last 3 years there has been no improvement in the mean average. The annual average for 2016 remained at over 3x the 40 ug/m3 limit.²The clean bus zone may finally start to make a difference this year but it needs to be rolled out rapidly to other parts of the borough.

Air quality is a major public health issue. We will support positive actions proposed by the Council but we will not hesitate to challenge the policies and actions when they fail to recognise the scale of the problem. 

This applies to our approach towards the Greater London Authority and the Government. For example, it is our view that the Mayor’s proposed Ultra Low Emission Zone is very welcome but does not extend far enough. Large parts of the borough, like Tooting, that have serious air pollution would not be covered. 

As for the Government, there has been a complete lack of leadership. ‘The Government’s failure to get to grips with the challenge of air pollution is evident to all of us’. This is an editorial statement from the Evening Standard (20/3/17) and one we would endorse.

Another group that needs to up its game is employers. Most of the toxic air we breathe is a product of work or workers travelling to work. Yet employers are often ignored when it comes to demands for action and should be doing far more to reduce their direct and indirect emissions.

BWTUC will support workers who want to act on pollution as a workplace issue. We are assisting local unions to carry out monitoring of pollution levels where they work. We will also be producing on line training modules to raise awareness this summer.

Contact details: Graham Petersen email: / Tel 07879492339

Notes to editors

¹ Statement in the Wandsworth Guardian (Page 4, 16/3/17).
² Between 2013-16 the annual mean average remained constant at around 124ug/m3.

In 2016 Putney High St had the dubious distinction of being the most polluted road in the whole of Europe.  By law hourly levels of Nitrogen Dioxide must not exceed 200 micrograms per cubic metre more than 18 times in one year. In fact, the hourly limit was exceeded over 1,200 times in 2016. In January 2017 the standard was breached 11 times in one day. 

29 March is Hackney Council’s Divestment D-Day

Divest Hackney

is calling on Hackney Council’s Pension Fund committee to Decide to Divest 100% of its £42m in fossil fuel shares at its crunch meeting on 29 March at Hackney Town Hall. It’s peak campaign time for Divest Hackney, with a petition  (please sign!), lobbying councillors in their advice surgeries and technical briefings on why selling all the fossil shares is the most prudent option, for the planet and the Council’s pensioners.  

As things stand, Hackney Council’s Pensions Committee is proposing at its Town Hall meeting on 29 March to sell just half its £42m shareholding in the next six years – and then review the situation.

 The 50% target has been set arbitrarily and does not coincide with the UN’s target to limit the increase in global warming to below 1.5 degrees or less. Such a target requires immediate and significant cuts in carbon emissions and polluting industries to avoid dangerous climate change. 

Hackney Council’s Pension Fund investments in fossil shares
















This is where the money goes…examples

Petrobas, the Financial Times reported a “scandal that is engulfing Brazil …corrupt Petrobas directors collaborated with Petrobras’ contractors, including some of Brazil’s largest construction companies, to line their own pockets.”

Glencore Xstrata, BBC Panorama said the company faced charges that its copper refinery in Katanga province, Congo, was dumping raw acid in a nearby river. In the face of determined community opposition, in the Philippines (see photo) the company is investing $5.9 billion the Tampakan copper and gold project in South Cotabato on the island of Mindanao.

EOG Resources, a major shale gas driller in the United States.

Marathon Oil, acquired several interests in the Alberta (Canada) oil sands projects in 2007.

Exxon Mobil, still funding Climate Science Denial groups.  

Best returns vs the environment?

What the council calls a “radical move” to sell off half its polluting shares follows a review which claimed to look at the financial risks posed to the pension fund’s fossil fuel investments in light of the Paris Agreement.  “The fund expects to move away from fossil fuel investment in the longer term….We have to ensure that the pension fund receives the best returns possible…” the council concludes.

The committee also says that it is putting money into greener investments, including £20m into a ‘Low Carbon Workplace’ fund, which transforms office buildings into energy efficient, low emission workplaces. Obviously, this is a welcome move. But any beneficial investment in ‘low carbon workplaces’ is going to be more than cancelled out by the council’s own high carbon investments.
Hackney Council can really do better than this.

Divestment victory at Kings College, London

STUDENT activists at King’s College London celebrated victory yesterday after the university announced that it would divest from all fossil fuel companies within the next five years.

An eight-week campaign by King’s College Climate Emergency (KCCE), which consisted of a number of direct actions culminating in a 14-day hunger strike by PhD student Roger Hallam and a 24-hour occupation of the university’s buildings, has prompted what has been hailed as “a significant change of policy” by one of Britain’s most prestigious universities.


The 7 point agreement is set out in a letter to staff from Chris Mottershead, Senior Vice President at KCL

Fundraising for the GJA update

What do the GJA and Glastonbury have in common?

Apart from a commitment to sustainability the GJA,  is in fact, a product of Glastonbury. Back in 2010,  the BWTUC met with Michael Eavis to discuss supporting a trade union focused alliance on climate change. The GJA arose out of that meeting. Funding from our Glastonbury work was used in 2011 and again in 2017 to continue this work. The GJA will be sending server teams to Glastonbury and Latitude music festivals in 2017 to raise more money to keep our work going. If you are interested in getting involved with our work at these festivals then please contact

Michael Eavis (2nd from right) with members of the GJA at Glastonbury, 2016

The UCU GJA server team at Glastonbury 2016