Research Network on Work, Labour and Climate Change


Network mission

Tackling the challenges of climate change calls for dramatic changes in the way societies produce and consume. Nevertheless, there is a huge gap in studies investigating the relationship between climate change action and society, in particular how it will affect jobs and working conditions, and livelihoods.

This network on Work, Labour and Climate Change across the University of Leeds gathers expertise, stimulates debate and is committed to delivering ideas for society, labour and businesses on how to produce and live in a zero-carbon environment and a more ecological sustainable way more generally. The network is ambitious in striving to mitigate climate change.

Activities and events

The Network is currently working on three research projects preparing for submission to funding bodies:

  1. The Social and Political Economy of Working Time Reduction
  2. Just Transition, (In-)Equality and worker voice in climate change
  3. The Future of work and the transition of carbon intensive sectors

Upcoming event

Title: Sustainability research at Leeds University Business School

When: Thursday 27 August 2020, 12pm-1pm

Speaker: Professor Kerrie Unsworth and Dr Zlatko Bodrožić, Leeds University Business School

For more information and to register your place:

Network members

Leeds University Business School academics:

University of Leeds academics:

  • Dr Miklos Antal, Faculty of Environment
  • Dr Milena Büchs, Faculty of Environment
  • Dr Jonathan Busch, Faculty of Environment & seconded to the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) to work on the Inclusive Clean Industrial Strategy
  • Professor Andy Gouldson, Priestley Centre
  • Professor Sarah Irwin, Faculty of Social Sciences
  • Dr Dan O’Neill, Faculty of Environment
  • Dr Alice Owen, Faculty of Environment and Leeds City Regional LEP Green Economy Panel member
  • Dr Sally Russell, Faculty of Environment

Academics from other UK Universities:

  • Jenny Patient, University of Sheffield

Contact: Dr Vera Trappmann

Project 1

Combating climate change: The role of organised labour

Dr Vera Trappmann and Dr Jo Cutter, Work and Employment Relations

Project overview

While there is existing knowledge about the actions of states and supra-national bodies, corporations and business, and community-level action, the role of labour for climate change mitigation has, until very recently, been absent from climate change debate and analysis. We are interested in understanding:

Infographic giving project overview of how, what and why


As a result of this ambitious project, we will be able to offer a more comprehensive map of action needed to bring forward a low-carbon economy.

The aim of this project is to locate successful initiatives to combat climate change among organised labour comparing the UK and Germany. It will analyse four different levels of climate change action involving unions:

  1. Supranational bodies in regulating for a green economy
  2. The government, national policies and national union organisation’ policies
  3. Regional activities and initiatives with union involvement
  4. Innovations at the workplace level.

Contact: Dr Vera Trappmann

Background literature

Emden, J. and Murphy, L. (2018) Risk or reward? Securing a just transition in the north of England - Interim report, [online], last visited: 24 January 2018.

Eurofund (2011) Industrial Relations and Sustainability: The Role of Social Partners in the Transition Towards a Green Economy, [online], last visited: 24 January 2018.

Farnhill, T. (2018) Union Renewal and Workplace Greening - Three Case Studies, British Journal of Industrial Relations. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd (10.1111), 56(4), pp. 716–743. doi: 10.1111/bjir.12293.

Goods, C. (2017) Climate change and employment relations, Journal of Industrial Relations. SAGE Publications Sage UK: London, England, 59(5), pp. 670–679. doi: 10.1177/0022185617699651.

Habermann, F. (2009) Halbinseln gegen den Strom. Anders leben und wirtschaften im Alltag. Königstein: Ulrike Helmer Verlag.

International Labour Organization (2018) Just Transition towards environmentally sustainable Economies and Societies for all. ILO ACTRAV Policy Brief, [online], last visited: 24 January 2018.

International Labour Office (2011) Climate Change and Labour: The Need for a “Just Transition”, [online], last visited: 24 January 2018.

International Labour Office (2015) Guidelines for a just transition towards environmentally sustainable economies and societies for all, [online], last visited: 24 January 2018.

ITUC (2017) Just Transition – Where Are We Now and What’s Next? A Guide to national Policies and International Climate Governance. ITUC Climate Justice Frontline Briefing 2017, [online]

Jackson, T. (2011) Prosperity without growth: economics for a finite planet. London: Earthscan.

Markey, R. and McIvor, J. (2019) Environmental bargaining in Australia, Journal of Industrial Relations. SAGE PublicationsSage UK: London, England, p. 002218561881405. doi: 10.1177/0022185618814056.

Snell, D. (2018) ‘“Just transition”? Conceptual challenges meet stark reality in a “transitioning” coal region in Australia, Globalizations. Routledge, 15(4), pp. 550–564. doi: 10.1080/14747731.2018.1454679.

Taylor Aiken, G. et al. (2017) Researching climate change and community in neoliberal contexts: an emerging critical approach’, Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, p. e463. doi: 10.1002/wcc.463.

Wright, E.O. (2010) Envisioning real utopias. London: Verso.