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9 Nov, 2017

At Bonn conference, Global Trades Union demand Just Transition to a zero-carbon future

Brussels, 6 November 2017, (International Trade Union Confederation OnLine) – The UN climate talks in Bonn open this week to discuss how to deliver the promises of the historic 2015 Paris Agreement to stay below a 2°C increase in average temperatures, and ensure a Just Transition to a zero-carbon future for workers and their communities.

Securing the long-term objective of staying below 2°C increase (and aiming at 1.5 C) requires dramatic changes to our production and consumption patterns. This will only happen if the ambition of national emissions objectives, particularly in developed countries, raises before the entry into force of the Agreement in 2020.

People remain ahead of their governments on climate action, the 2017 ITUC Global Poll found 85 percent of people think the world would be a better place if governments were more committed to action on climate change, and two-thirds of people want their governments to promote a Just Transition to a zero carbon future.

“Ambitious action on climate is an imperative. There are good jobs on a living planet. COP 23 must raise ambition with concrete measures to ensure significant progress towards net zero economies, and countries can reap the benefits of investments made now in jobs and economic growth. This is a time for leadership and where there are reluctant leaders others must simply set the pace,” said Sharan Burrow, General Secretary, International Trade Union Confederation.

Trade unions have three demands for governments to deliver a successful climate change conference:

  • Raise ambition and realise the job-creation potential of climate action
  • Deliver on climate finance and support the most vulnerable
  • Commit to securing a just transition for workers and their communities.

For governments to fulfil the Paris Agreement, they must ensure that job-related aspects of climate policies are part of their decarbonisation pathways. They should establish plans and strategies for a Just Transition. This requires the establishment of formal social dialogue mechanisms so that Just Transition strategies can be democratically designed for all levels – community, region, company and sector, country.

“There can be no doubt that a zero carbon world is possible, but critical choices need to be made about how we manage the transition. Trade unions raised the demand of Just Transition with the result that the Paris Agreement included the requirement that national climate actions ensure Just Transition measures and decent job creation. However, the sectoral and economic transformation we face needs to be on a scale and within a timeframe faster than any in our history,” said Sharan Burrow.

The ITUC has established Just Transition Centre which brings together and supports unions, companies, communities and investors in social dialogue with governments and city authorities to develop plans for a fast and fair transition to a zero carbon, zero poverty world.

“Increasingly companies and investors are acting to address risk and build the foundations for a zero carbon world. People need to see a future that allows them to understand that despite the threats, we can together create both security and opportunity,” said Burrow.

The ITUC is leading a delegation of 130 trade union members from 40 countries at COP 23 in Bonn.