From the TUC

Copenhagen Diary #9: Listen to us

15 Dec 2009, by in Environment

I wake at 5am today, recalling the indignation of yesterday and lines from Seamus Heany’s poem, From the Republic of Conscience:

….At their inauguration, public leaders
must swear to uphold unwritten law and weep
to atone for their presumption to hold office…

The UN decided yesterday to virtually exclude civil society assembled here from the final closing ceremony for Heads of State, on Friday. Wider inclusion has been a positive feature of previous climate conferences, where the assembly of NGOs provides an atmosphere of accountability and first-hand engagement right through to the finale.

Chaos reigns here, from our standpoint as Observers. We queue eight hours for passes to get into the conference. Progress everywhere seems stalled. At our morning meeting, Anabella Rosemberg from the ITUC summarised that there seems to be a terrible vacuum with many options that have not been cleared up.

A unifying Shared Vision seems unreachable in the time still available. Negotiators now find masses of disagreements, text everywhere bracketed for resolution. The Danish Presidency appears to be consulting (not with us) on a so-called “second track” text. The picture on CO2 cuts is bleak, prompting a walk-out on the part of African nations, showing their strength. Union delegates from front-line developing countries can take home no comfort if the UN settles for what’s now on the table.

Today, we have to press governments to reach a fair as well as truly ambitious and binding deal that will ensure CO2 emissions peak globally by 2016. And we have more work to do on our Just Transition text, accommodating somehow US ambitions to include the jobs opportunities from ambitious policies in our paragraph 12.

Elsewhere, the ITUC’s World of Work Pavilion shows another way is possible. Workshops are packed full. Paul Noon is chairing a PSI debate on the role of public services in tackling climate change. Our members in the public services work on both mitigation and adaptation. Adaptation requires massive public expenditure on disaster prevention and management – fire and rescue services, supporting climate migrants. On mitigation, that’s public transport investment, publicly-managed district heating such as covers the city of Copenhagen. And PSI-led campaigns against water privatization. David Arnold (Unison) spoke on greening the workplace.

Rob Sneddon (Community) and I were at the TUC’s workshop on Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS). Dr Mike Farley, chair of the TUC’s clean coal task group, outlined the challenge of CCS and progress to date. He welcomed the UK Government’s decision to support four CCS plants in the UK, a good start but 100 full scale CCS project are needed by 2020.

Tony Mahers got it right when he said, “Just Transition means we want our industries cleaned up, not shut down.” CCS isn’t just about coal mining and coal power, but involves a future for steel and the energy intensive industries that make up the industrial base of developed and developing nations. With Eugene Trisko on behalf of the UMW, we had evidence of close working between unions and industry in three continents. In summing up the workshop, the idea took hold of a global union CCS initiative. We may be shut out of the UN, but listen to us, we know how to make the climate change transition.

One Response to Copenhagen Diary #9: Listen to us

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