COP25 – Climate ambition and Just Transition plans urgently required to tackle climate crisis

We have just a decade left to stabilise the climate crisis and just one year for governments to raise their commitments in the form of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to meet this test, warned trade unions at the opening of COP25 in Madrid.

Workers and their unions have shown this year that they are part of the solution, part of the growing movement to demand action from their governments. Trade unions from Chile to Spain, the Philippines to Nigeria will be part of a trade union delegation at the COP25, from 2 December – 13 December.

“There is a climate crisis. A net-zero emissions economy with Just Transition measures is our only chance of survival. Without the social dialogue vital to achieve progress on this, the impact on the economy can only worsen. Corporate greed and profit at any cost can no longer underpin transition to a net-zero future, and no company can escape our attention,” said Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).

Unions want decent jobs on a living planet through the guarantees of Just Transition measures for all workers. COP25 must show the commitment of governments to step up ambition in their NDCs and support the Climate Action for Jobs Initiative. Adequate climate finance is the cornerstone of effective climate policy, and governments must live up to their promise to mobilise US$100 billion annually by 2020.

“As workers’ organisations, we are faced with a very important responsibility. Social progress has never come for free, without struggle from the people affected. This is also the case for climate protection. We need to fight for our place at the table and to see that our demands for climate justice are taken into account through social dialogue for a Just Transition,” said Sharan Burrow.

Canada, Germany, New Zealand and Spain have led the way with Just Transition agreements, and South Africa and Scotland have Just Transition authorities in place, while Sweden and India have breakthroughs in cleaner steel and cement.

Bold action on climate change could generate over 65 million new low-carbon jobs in 2030 and deliver US$26 trillion in economic benefits between now and 2030 according to the New Climate Economy.

Ambition and Just Transition plans are urgently required to secure the trust of people in every country. Unions demand that governments:

  • Stop the delaying measures and increase ambition in the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).
  • Start implementing the social dialogue vital for agreements that deliver Just Transition for all.
  • Legislate for climate action, including procurement rules.
  • Ensure Green New Deals mean a New Social Contract in every country with labour rights, climate ambition and Just Transition at the core.

“The ITUC will fight to see no one is left behind, that no worker or community is forgotten.  We stand in solidarity with the American people who understand that President Trump withdrawing from the Paris Agreement endangers the world’s capacity to stabilise the planet.  The ITUC has expressed their clear view that the presence of President Piñera at COP25 in Madrid puts at risk the trust that people need, the trust that governments will act in their interests. We must not lose another chance for governments to halt the climate emergency,” said Ms Burrow.

The social unrest in Chile and repressive government response that led to President Piñera cancelling the COP in Santiago are symbolic in the global fight for social justice and a reminder of all the lives that are put at risk by regressive policies.

Read the ITUC Frontlines Briefing for COP25