Climate Change: Job Not Done in Copenhagen

The ITUC has expressed dismay at the outcome of the Copenhagen Climate Summit, as governments failed to reach a binding agreement for decisive action to avoid catastrophic climate change.

"World leaders failed to overcome their differences in Copenhagen. Commitments on greenhouse gas reductions in particular have fallen short of what is needed. Governments must overcome these differences and reach a binding agreement in 2010, as a matter of urgency," said ITUC General Secretary Guy Ryder. "The alternative, in terms of lives lost as well as the huge addtional economic and employment cost, is unthinkable."

With the UN’s scientific advice clearly showing the consequences of inadequate action, a fair and binding agreement in 2010 needs to set far-reaching targets for emissions reductions by industrialised countries, combined with ambitious and verifiable actions in developing countries. Pledges by industrialised countries to provide assistance for adaptation and mitigation measures in developing countries must also meet at least the minimum level estimated by the UN.

A positive feature of the Copenhagen negotiations concerns the support from many governments to including reference to decent work and just transition for workers within the framework of the UN’s efforts on climate change. Addressing the Summit Plenary, ITUC President Sharan Burrow stated that “we would like to express our satisfaction that this process has recognised the importance of a Just Transition as a driver for decent work and good quality job creation." Burrow added that "it is encouraging that a number of Governments understand the importance of this issue for building broad support for climate action. This has to be carried into the further negotiations, and included in the agreement in 2010”.

Concerning the arrangements for the Summit, the ITUC has described the restricted access of civil society to the UN conference centre as unacceptable. "It is vital that when negotiations resume at the UNFCCC and at the COP16 meeting in Mexico next year, proper access of civil society representatives be guaranteed,”
stated Burrow.

“We need a binding agreement that delivers a habitable planet, decent work, binding emissions reductions and financial support for the most vulnerable,” concluded Ryder. ‘Despite the lack of results in key areas, Copenhagen has at least helped set the stage for progress. We call on world leaders to meet again within months to meet the expectation of the world’s people and conclude such a treaty.”