Bonn Diary #3: Race to the future
Despite that “groundhog day” comment in my last blog, the mood music here at the UN’s climate conference in Bonn has definitely warmed in the last couple of days. Key delegations (the LDCs, Japan, USA) have placed markers in support of decent work and just transition. This time a year ago we were told we were in danger of overloading the Convention with our union demands. Now we feel sufficiently confident to move further suggestions for strengthening positions on green jobs & skills etc in the operational parts of the future agreement.
The ITUC group has welcomed Unison’s Keith Sonnet (DGS) and David Arnold (who also chairs the TUSDAC working group). We met the UK delegation today. The UK acknowledged that the UN chairs still have a lot of conflicting points of view to resolve. As this happens in closed side meetings, we have asked for the right to attend them and take part. Anabella Rosemberg for the ITUC updated the UK on how civil society organisations are pushing for more involvement in the processes here. We emphasised, again, the added value that our Just Transition concept brings to the UN process. Outside of these talks, in the real world of industrial relations, Just Transition is being taken up in practical terms in joint discussions between governments on green jobs/stimulus and low carbon investments (Japan, US, the EU, Australia, Denmark and many more). As this chimes well with the UK’s desire to operationalise change before a global deal is struck, the message was well taken, we believe.
Good, too, to be joined in the UK meeting by Bob Baugh of the AFL-CIO, who updated officials on Obama’s latest bid for energy and climate legislation in the Senate. There’s little time left before the US moves back into election mode in the autumn, but it’s made clear that unions are behind this last legislative push.
The UN’s hard scientific evidence for climate change has never taken a close look at the world of work, nor systematically explored climate impacts on human settlements and human rights. So the ITUC working group today decided to seek ways to encourage the UN to undertake this research. It should acknowledge the growing body of union and academic research in this area.
Meanwhile, leaders from the Global Campaign on Climate Action briefed us on their post-Copenhagen strategy. GCCA is a broad coalition of green, faith, human rights, gender and many other alliances, with the ITUC now a partner. After Copenhagen heads went down. But now the GCCA has decided on a new four-year strategy to 2015, a Race for the Future, by which time global emissions have to peak. Key themes are green jobs, fulfilling MDGs and poverty eradication. GCCA counts most a national level, as in the Wave demonstration last December. Unions again made a plea for the GCCA to acknowledge that unions want a global deal, but to respect that we have thousands working in the mining and power sectors where blunt demands from NGOs, such as ‘No to coal’, don’t help tie us in.
Yesterday the working group debated a paper on the common ground between labour and human rights. The feeling was to take up human rights issues where we can gain leverage on issues such as forced migration or access to water or energy. This is my last Bonn blog for this conference, but hopefully one of the ITUC delegation will report back on these pages next week.