Unions support Solidarity and Just Transition Silesia Declaration

Governments must step up and commit to Just Transition for workers and the creation of decent work and quality jobs if we are to reach the climate ambition needed to stop climate warming at 1.5°C, warned the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) at the opening of COP24 in Poland.

The ITUC welcomed the initiative of the Polish COP Presidency to present and adopt the “Solidarity and Just Transition Silesia Declaration” at COP24 and called on all governments to adopt the declaration.

Sharan Burrow, General Secretary, International Trade Union Confederation, said: “Unions want decent jobs on a living planet. Building trust through the guarantees of Just Transition measures will make it possible for governments to raise ambition. We need all governments to get behind this declaration so we leave no one behind.”

By adopting the Silesia declaration, countries are committing to take seriously the impact of climate change and climate policies on workers, their families and communities when they prepare and implement their new NDCs, national adaptation plans and national long-term low greenhouse gas emission development strategies.

“This declaration means that workers and their unions will have a seat at the negotiating table and workers’ voices will be heard when climate policies are developed and implemented. Good social dialogue processes are a crucial factor to make the changes to industries, sectors and national economies that will stop dangerous climate change and unleash a 65 million low-carbon jobs dividend by 2030,” said Sharan Burrow.

The governments of Canada, New Zealand, Scotland and Spain have committed to Just Transition and launched national processes to deliver it:

• In Canada, the government has set up a Task Force on Just Transition for Canadian Coal Power Workers and Communities. It will provide advice on how to make the transition away from coal a fair one for workers and communities.

• In New Zealand, the government is developing a Just Transition and economic diversification plan based on social dialogue with unions and broad stakeholder consultation. The plan will be for regions that currently rely on offshore oil and gas extraction, which New Zealand’s government will phase out by 2050.

• In Scotland, the government has established a national Just Transition Commission with unions and stakeholders to address the challenges and opportunities that a low-carbon transition will bring to Scotland’s workers and communities.

• In Spain, the government and mining unions have agreed to a Just Transition plan for the country’s coal mines, which are scheduled for closure. Two further plans – one focused on economic diversification for affected regions and one addressing national issues – will follow.

“To meet the climate challenge and stop hothouse earth, all countries need to move further and faster with ambition driven by Just Transition. To get there faster, the principles of a Just Transition for the workforce highlighted in the Silesia Declaration need to be translated and integrated in the Paris Rulebook, the implementing guidelines that must be adopted at the end of COP24,” said Sharan Burrow.

The rulebook has to guide and help the countries to implement climate policies that are ambitious in terms of emission reduction commitments, with effective adaptation measures, increased climate finance, a credible loss-and-damage compensation mechanism and appropriate Just Transition measures for workers.

“In 2015, unions successfully had Just Transition recognised in the Paris Agreement. Now it’s time for COP24 to put these into practice in the Paris Rulebook and create decent jobs on a living planet,” said Sharan Burrow.