On 12 November, International Trade Union confederation (ITUC) and Friends of the Earth International held a joint event at COP23 in Bonn to discuss the need for a Just Transition. These organizations are both demanding climate justice and a just global transition that protects the rights and livelihoods of workers: a plan for the planet and a plan for workers and their communities.

At the meeting, 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 to 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.

Speaking on the need for urgent action, Alison Tate, Director of Economic and Social Policy from ITUC said: 

We are in a race against time to stabilize 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.

Alison Tate, Director of Economic and Social Policy from ITUC (right) and Karin Nansen, Friends of the Earth Chair (left)

Karin Nansen, Friends of the Earth International Chair 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.

Both organizations 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.

The event highlighted the importance of building workers’ power. Friend of the Earth International 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.

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.

Nansen concluded:

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.

In an interview with Real World Radio, dipti Bhatnagar said,

“When we think about a different energy future – an energy sovereignty future – we need to bring workers with us. on a living planet.”

NOTES

Friends of the Earth International is the world’s largest grassroots environmental network, uniting 75 national member groups and some two million members and supporters around the world: www.foei.org

The ITUC represents 181 million workers in 163 countries and territories and has 340 national affiliates: www.ituc-csi.org

“States and corporations repress people fighting for access to natural resources – Indigenous people and ethnic minorities, rural women and many others.”