UN Climate Action Summit is told 📣 climate action, jobs and Just Transition is possible

The ITUC has challenged governments at the UN Climate Action Summit in New York to make a living planet, secure jobs and decent work their ambition for action on climate change.

“If we imagine the future where no one is left behind, where we act on the call of our children who have taken to the streets in fear and frustration, where people and their communities are well served by inclusive economies, we can build it together,” said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow in her speech to the UN Climate Action Summit.

Sixty governments put their climate action plans on show at the Summit with their contributions to global and national initiatives. From funding pledges for the Green Climate Fund, to national re-forestation programmes, actions were pledged to reduce or mitigate against carbon emissions. These can only be seen as further steps towards the ambition required to stabilise the planet – but more is necessary.

The success of the Climate Action Summit will be measured in the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) plans that governments must submit in 2020. These plans must show that countries take their climate responsibilities seriously.

Secure jobs and whether or not there is a transition to a low carbon economy with decent jobs are concerns for many workers. The new Climate Action for Jobs Initiative announced by the UN Secretary General is a platform focused on ensuring that decent jobs and Just Transition are part of all Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), the national plans that all governments have to submit as part of the Paris Agreement.

Nine major companies from the energy and the industrial sectors, including the world’s largest developers of renewable energy, signed up to change the business model, to put people’s rights and sustainability at the heart of business planning with the Just Transition and Decent Jobs Pledge.

“This demonstrates the power of dialogue, negotiated agreement and partnership. These companies have made a commitment to their direct employees - over 230,000 - to ensure green, fair, decent and inclusive jobs and beyond that to the millions of workers in their supply chains by using procurement and translating these principles into fair contracting agreements with decent wages, social protection and health and safety. The pledge sets a high bar and unions will work with companies to deliver a Just Transition for all workers,” said Burrow.

Investors must also sign onto the Just Transition investor initiative of the Principles of Responsible Investment and the ITUC, and in doing so to support these companies and use their authority to demand the same of others.

The 2015 Paris Agreement can only be realised with significant technological, social and economic transformations which need to be put in place now if we are to meet the 2030 goals.

“For unions a Just Transition is the pathway to high ambition as it builds the trust of people and communities in a secure future - it builds hope. There’s no doubt the race is on to bring emissions down before we pass tipping point. The science is in, and net zero is non-negotiable but the choice of how we get there is in our hands,” said Burrow.