Trade unions ‘just transition’ demands take root in UN climate action

Montserrat at Cop 24

Trade unions this week succeeded in getting Just Transition accepted as an integral part of the UN framework of climate action.

At the opening of COP24 in Katowice the Polish Presidency presented its ‘Solidarity and Just Transition Silesia Declaration’ with the full support of the European Union.

The declaration

  • stresses that “just transition of the workforce and the creation of decent work and quality jobs are crucial to ensure an effective and inclusive transition to low greenhouse gas emission and climate resilient development”
  • notes “the importance of a participatory and representative process of social dialogue involving all social partners to promote high employment rates, adequate social protection, labour standards and wellbeing of workers and their communities, when developing nationally determined contributions, long-term low greenhouse gas emission development strategies and adaptation planning processes” and
  • highlights “the importance of further work on the just transition of the workforce and the creation of decent work and quality jobs”.   

The Declaration takes further the political commitment that countries made in Paris to base their national climate action on decent work and just transition principles.

“Just Transition is increasingly accepted as a crucial enabling factor of climate action” said Montserrat Mir, ETUC Confederal Secretary at COP24.

“More and more Ministers and climate activists are realising that climate action must be done with people, not at the expense of their rights or employment.

“Now governments, with the help of social partners, have to deliver concrete just transition plans to move to a zero-emission economy in a fair and equitable way.”

“It’s another and important step forward for trade unions in climate action and should enable stronger and faster climate action.”

At time of writing the Declaration had been signed by some 45 nations including most EU countries plus others such as Canada, Japan, Korea, Indonesia and Nigeria.  

The Declaration can be a springboard for trade unionists to get more involved national climate plans as set out in the recent ETUC guide and video ‘Involving Trade Unions in climate action to build a Just Transition’