UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow: Just transition is the pathway to climate ambition

photo: AFP

Unions are warning world leaders attending COP26 in Glasgow on Sunday 31 October that lack of action to reduce global emissions, with just transition measures, puts at risk economic and political stability.

Working people face a convergence of crises with the climate emergency, a global pandemic, inequality, and the breakdown of trust in democracy.

“We are in a race against time to stabilise the planet, and COP26 is a significant milestone. All industries need to transition to give us a hope of a positive future, yet too many government leaders will go to the UN climate change conference with ambitions that do not meet the vital constraints of a temperature rise of 2 degrees, let alone keeping within a 1.5- degree limit,” said Sharan Burrow, general secretary, ITUC.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres called the latest IPPC Climate Report "code red for humanity", yet government implementation plans – NDCs (nationally determined contributions) – are failing the test of climate ambition, social dialogue and just transition.

  • 191 parties have submitted plans to the UN for cutting emissions, but together they show an increase of 16% in 2030 compared to 2010, according to the 2021 UNFCCC NDC report.
  • While 49 countries refer to just transition in their NDC, nearly nine in ten are denying working people and communities a say in their own future by not using social dialogue, based on ITUC research.

““Less than a quarter of governments commit to just transition in their NDCs. This fails to give workers and their communities hope, and it fails to build trust. Governments with credible just transition plans include Argentina, the European Union (EU), Germany, Kenya, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain and Suriname.

Working families need jobs – climate-friendly jobs, with just transition. Dollar for dollar, climate-friendly investments create more jobs in the near term than unsustainable investments, according to an analysis of studies around the world conducted by the World Resources Institute (WRI), the ITUC, and the New Climate Economy (NCE) project.

There are jobs in every industry if governments, investors and corporations accept they need to involve workers in social dialogue and have transparent plans for a clean-energy, clean-technology future,” said Sharan Burrow.

  • The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has estimated that renewable energy could employ more than 40 million people by 2050 and that total employment in the energy sector could reach 100 million by 2050, up from around 58 million today, if renewable energy were to be pursued to its full potential.

“Climate-friendly jobs, with just transition, industry policies and investment plans, must be backed up with the climate finance to decarbonise every country. Fulfilling commitments to the US$100 billion climate fund is essential to a low-carbon future. Providing adequate financial assistance to pay for the loss and damage already happening in the Global South will determine the success of the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow,” said Sharan Burrow.


Follow social media updates on #COP26 #JustTransition and #ClimateAction on wakelet: https://wakelet.com/wake/2UfL7KKc0K0ZGIae5-kLE

Read the ITUC COP26 Frontline briefing, “Social Justice enables climate ambition.” (English, French, Spanish)

Read the ITUC, WRI, NCE Report, “The Green Jobs Advantage: How Climate-friendly Investments are Better Job” (English)