From the TUC

Stand up, Citizen Stakeholder

29 Oct 2009, by in Environment

While European leaders try today to agree how much the EU should pay to help developing nations fight global warming, we join 50 Department of Energy and Climate Change stakeholders for a One-Year Anniversary Discussion. It’s a year since DECC was set up. How’s my driving? so to speak. The focus today is The UK’s Low Carbon Transition Plan, DECC’s July White Paper, weighing in at 220 pages.

Q. What do we think of it?
A. For the stakeholder community, it’s good in parts.

We welcome the White Paper, which builds in pathways to achieve a 34% cut in UK emissions by 2020. We comment that whereas the BIS Low Carbon Industrial Strategy sets up a Forum for a Just Transition, between Government, business, unions and NGOs, there’s no mention of this innovative stakeholder forum in the White Paper.

But we welcome the new focus on “workplaces” in the strategy. Workplaces have to cut CO2 by 13% by 2020, apparently. This focus is good because it reinforces the TUC’s greenworkplaces approach. Dr David Pencheon, director of the NHS Sustainable Development Unit, tells us that the health sector emits 25% of all public sector CO2, much of it from what it procures. So our greenworkplaces projects, at places like Great Ormond Street Hospital, are right on the button in addressing this NHS priority.

But stakeholder engagement is also needed in our heavy industries, like steel, aluminium, cement and so on, where major challenges lie ahead in terms of low carbon technology investment and new skills for around 250,000 workers. Where “carbon leakage” could bite hard.

And then we run into some hopefully temporary buffers. We remind DECC of the TUC’s support for the Just Transition language in the draft Copenhagen agreement, vital to encourage governments after Copenhagen into dialogue with their unions, businesses and NGOs. Strange, then, to hear that how Governments relate to their citizens after Copenhagen is a matter for the “sovereign decisions” of governments! Apparently, this would be to “dictate” how countries take forward their low carbon transition plans!

If the rest of the Copenhagen agreement is binding (like the 25% to 40% cuts in CO2), why not the notion of just transition?  Whether Citizen Stakeholder is involved or not is perhaps too important to be left to sovereign governments alone?