Copenhagen Diary 3: Time for Government leadership
Today at the UN Copenhagen conference has been all about the vital role of active Government in tackling climate change.
We’ve had helpful reassurances here that the UK hadn’t signed up to the unhelpful “Danish text” that I blogged on yesterday. A big distraction from the real task at hand – securing a viable UN text by next Wednesday. Unions joined with other Major Observer groups this afternoon in a two-way dialogue with the UN chair, Michael Zammet.
The first contribution from Minu Hemmati of Gender CC, working for women and climate justice, called, for a general principle in the new agreement to ensure the involvement of women in the process, and a binding reference to “full and meaningful stakeholder participation”, including some form of compliance monitoring.
Her call went down well in the hall. We backed it with our position on a Just Transition. But Zammet responded, inevitably, that however well disposed he may feel to the ideas, they were for things for Governments to propose, and therefore, for us Observers to pressure our Governments into tabling. We had the same feedback from other governments today on the disappearance yesterday of Just Transition from the “Danish text”. It’s up to Parties (ie Governments). So it’s up to Us.
At this morning’s meeting, Bob Baugh of the AFL-CIO briefly summed up American labour’s efforts to embrace the concept of good, green jobs and Just Transition. They fought for it in US legislation. Their Convention in September elected a new leadership, and adopted a Just Transition motion. It calls for mass investment in low carbon technologies, worker training and education, assistance for industries in transition, and a “democratic voice for workers and their communities”.
All on the same kind of track we are pursuing in the UK. Today’s Pre-Budget Report (back in the UK, that is), works with the grain of good climate interventions. I don’t have all the Chancellor’s detail to hand, but we now have a funding levy for four Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) projects. Not “up to four” projects as was previously the case. So another call from the TUC’s Clean Coal task Group is answered!
There’s also a green stimulus feel about the PBR – additional immediate support for offshore wind projects accredited from April 2010. A new body, Infrastructure UK, to leverage £5 billion investment in low-carbon projects. A little borrowing here from the Conservatives’ ideas for a new low-carbon investment institution. £120 million for low-carbon industries in the UK, including offshore wind, and to improve energy use in the chemicals sector, an energy intensive industry the TUC is concerned about. More besides in domestic energy efficiency and to tackle fuel poverty.
Let’s hope that the kit involved, such as new boilers and electric vehicles, is procured from UK manufacturers. A point for unions to make, perhaps, at the first meeting of the new Forum for a Just Transition. It meets for the first time tomorrow, Government chaired, with unions, industry and other agencies strategising on low carbon industries. A nice green package to set it on its way.