Barcelona Climate Talks: Rally on Just Transition
To the splendour of the Salo de Cent, Barcelona’s 16th century city hall in the old town, where 400 trade union and environmentalists gathered on Monday 3 November for a rally on Achieving a Just Transition in Copenhagen, ahead of this week’s Barcelona Climate Change Talks. The strong platform included leaders of both Spain’s trade union confederations CCOO and UGT, Joel Decaillon of the ETUC, national directors of Greenpeace and Oxfam, heads of regional Government and Elena Espinosa, Spain’s Minister of Environment.
“Failure in Copenhagen is not an option” argued Guy Ryder, ITUC General Secretary. “The crisis in the global economy has many faces – financial, employment, environmental. We have to make the linkages between them, we need whole global solutions. The interests of trade unions in protecting employment and protecting the environment are the same. But we can’t say that fighting climate change will automatically deliver us more and better employment. We have to fight for the right policies. This means we have to integrate policy-making between government, employers and unions.”
Acknowledging the fears of jobs losses in coal-dependent countries such as Poland, Ryder said we have to acknowledge these doubts and deal with them positively, through investment in low carbon technologies and new skills.
For the UGT, Candido Mendez argued that climate change was creating a new apartheid, with millions in Africa displaced, driven into poverty and hunger by climate transformations. The developed world must pay the historic bill owed to the South. But a fair transition also implies supporting our long established industries through the transition. “We’ll need steel for the industries of the future”.
I’ve not met the whole ITUC delegation yet, people keep arriving, but we have four delegates from sub-Saharan Africa (including Zimbabwe, Malawi and Botswana), Japan, Norway, Denmark, Spain of course, the ETUC, the European industrial federations, Sustain Labor, the ILO. Our purpose, again, is to get to see heads of delegations. We’ll reinforce our commitments to binding cuts in CO2 of between 25% and 40% by 2020, and argue that that social justice and development are impossible with climate chaos. But we will also be closely monitoring attitudes towards our demands for Just Transition, binding in social partners at national level to travel together in the road from Copenhagen.
Wrapping up, Elena Espinosa said social partners “are the key leaders in the shift to a low carbon model. In Spain, we have eleven sector partnership fora, each helping us to keep to our Kyoto commitments and address the consequences. We need a global deal that provides green and decent jobs, providing fair terms and conditions.”
As the ITUC’s Anabella Rosemberg argued in her speech, Copenhagen should send out a message of social justice, a fair transition and the engagement of stakeholders, and it must count in to the deal the key role played by trade unions.