CUT Brazil: International cooperation, sustainable development, and just transition

Sustainable development and the fight against climate change are central themes in the work of the Central Única dos Trabalhadores (CUT Brazil). Furthermore, the concept of Just Transition – as articulated by the trade union movement in three essential dimensions: sustainable development, energy transition, and decent work – is fundamental in structuring CUT’s actions, writes Antonio Lisboa, ITUC deputy president and CUT Brazil secretary of international relations.

Through an international cooperation project with the Just Transition Center of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), CUT Brazil has carried out a series of initiatives aimed at influencing the issue of just transition in the country.

Among these initiatives is an analysis of investments in wind and solar energy in northeastern Brazil, highlighting their environmental and social impacts. This is a very emblematic issue because, although wind energy contributes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, it also generates a series of significant problems. For example, there have been documented cases of endangered birds colliding with the blades and suffering electrocutions in the electric transmission networks. In addition, the constant noise from wind turbines has led to depression, insomnia, and deafness in many people living near wind farms. Many of these individuals were farmers who, in response to this situation, have been forced to abandon their crops, causing food insecurity in their communities and families. Furthermore, a new generation known as "children of the wind" has been observed, born from relationships between local women and temporary workers who abandon the mothers and their children once the parks are built.

Another CUT initiative has focused on analyzing popular participation and social dialogue in the main processes of reviewing and regulating Brazil’s energy matrix. Specifically, CUT has focused on processes such as the regulation of the Brazilian Carbon Market by the National Congress, the federal government’s project "Fuel for the Future," which aims to decarbonize the energy matrix, the National Hydrogen Program that plays a significant role in energy transition, mainly through green hydrogen, and the regulation of offshore wind energy. Within this framework, it is important to highlight the active participation of Brazilian unions in the debates on just transition that the ILO held this year at its International Labour Conference.

These initiatives converge in our advocacy for the creation of a National Just Transition Plan. For CUT, this plan would be a fundamental measure for a truly effective just transition in the necessary decarbonization of the economy and in promoting and respecting the rights of the working class.

Finally, it is important to emphasise that after four years of a climate-denying government, indifferent to any social dialogue, and attempting to destroy our democracy, we are experiencing a new reality in multiple areas of work, among which environmental preservation stands out as one of the most significant. CUT hopes that COP30, to be held in Belém do Pará in the Brazilian Amazon, will be a COP of popular participation that contributes substantial and tangible progress towards a just transition capable of generating and ensuring decent work, trade union freedom, and collective bargaining, social justice, food, and energy sovereignty, as well as respect for the self-determination of peoples and nations.

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