The International Trade Union confederation (ITUC) and Friends of the Earth International held a joint event yesterday to discuss the need for a just transition. These organisations share a demand for climate justice and a just global transition that protects the rights and livelihoods of workers with a plan for the planet and a plan for workers and their communities.
At the meeting yesterday, representatives from the trade union and environmental movements from around the world spoke about their shared vision for tackling the climate crisis and ensuring an economic transition that is fair for affected workers and their communities.
International speakers at the event included movement representatives from Nigeria, Australia, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Latin America as well as Europe.
The event took place yesterday Sunday 12 November, from 3 pm to 6 pm at the Wissenschaftszentrum in Bonn, during COP23.
Speaking at the event on the need for urgent action, Alison Tate, Director of Economic and Social Policy at ITUC commented: "We are in a race against time to stabilise the climate. The impacts on peoples' lives, livelihoods and prosperity if we fail to act now will be calamitous. We share a demand with Friends of the Earth for a Just Transition. We can lose the battle on climate change with horrendous consequences for all working people and their communities or we can act now to secure a stable climate with decent work for all, prosperity, and development."
Karin Nansen, chairperson of Friends of the Earth International, said "For us as Friends of the Earth International, an 'unjust' transition – one that leaves workers behind, abandons communities to post-industrial decline, and deepens inequality – is not acceptable. Likewise, a shift to 'green jobs' that are precarious, badly-paid and few, is not acceptable. The transformation must be people-centred and democratic, and must build on the hard-fought rights of workers and communities. This means that carbon dependent communities and workers must not be forced to bear the costs of change. It is not just a matter of changing the technology; it must address the systemic failures of the current energy system."
"When we think about a different energy future – an energy sovereignty future – we need to bring workers with us." Must-listen with @diptimoz on why we need a #JustTransition away from fossil fuels>> https://t.co/tEbYq9KXap pic.twitter.com/BqQyqxWBAc— Friends of the Earth (@foeeurope) November 16, 2017
Both organisations are calling for a Just Transition for local and national economies towards renewable energy, away from exploitative economic practices, and seeking to address the needs and rights of vulnerable communities.
Speakers at the event highlighted the importance of building workers' power. FoEI and the ITUC work together to strengthen the movement of workers and communities affected by climate change. Workers, their communities and other frontline communities are unifying to demand a transition that is fast enough, deep enough and fair enough to deliver climate justice.
Jagoda Munic, director of Friends of the Earth Europe, talked about the importance of the cooperation between environmental groups and trade unions: "A cooperation between environmental groups and trade unions. Is it easy? No. Is it possible? Yes. Is it necessary and urgent? Absolutely. We see already successful examples happening in Europe like in Scotland and the Netherlands."
"A cooperation between environmental groups and trade unions. Is it easy? No. Is it possible? Yes. Is it necessary and urgent? Absolutely. We see already successful examples happening in Europe." #JustTransition statement @ituc @FoEint @foeeurope https://t.co/PgGR3blgEO #COP23 pic.twitter.com/zBFK7jMz4f— Susann Scherbarth (@SuScherb) November 15, 2017
In a just transition, citizens are involved in decision-making. A just transition corresponds to people's desires to gain control of their own environment – by locally generating their own energy, for example, or making a choice for regionally grown food. A just transition increases the ability of people and communities to retake control of their own lives.
Far too often the interests of workers and environmentalists have been pitched against each other, when fundamentally we share the need for a liveable planet and societies based on environmental, social and economic justice. These planetary crises are being driven by unsustainable economic and development models, and the concentration of power over energy goods and services in the hands of a wealthy few.