Bonn Diary #4: Fresh start for Just Transition
This is the first time I have made it into the UN climate talks. Last time I came it was to Copenhagen in December. The powers that be got nervous about the number of observers and like many others I was stuck outside, standing under a flyover in the snow. This time I breezed in and have spent the day in large stuffy rooms, whilst outside it is warm and sunny. The irony is that at UNISON we talk about much of our work on climate change under the heading changing the climate at work! The fact that there are fewer observers here this time is down to this being a staging post on the route to the next Conference of the Parties (COP), which will take place in Mexico in December.
As a first timer at such a gathering two things strike me as particularly interesting. First, the brilliant job that the international trade union movement have done in keeping the principles of just transition and decent work on the agenda. As regular readers of Philip’s blogs will know, the basic principle behind these related concepts is that moving to a low carbon economy needs a commitment from signatories to the climate agreement to creating green and decent jobs, training workers for green jobs, social dialogue and social protection. The ITUC did succeed in ensuring that this was in the draft agreement for the talks in Copenhagen, but like so much else at those talks, it did not make it through to the short and inadequate Copenhagen Accord. So, the big thing for me since arriving has been seeing these concepts back in the text, and hearing government delegations from USA, G77, China and Japan all embrace them in an open session. Is this momentum? Let’s hope so.
The second thing was to hear the presentations from the European Commission and a variety of European countries on the work they are doing under the fast start funding agreed at Copenhagen. Given the minor role played by the EU at Copenhagen there was a sense, to me at least, that this might have been, at least a little, in making amends for timidity last time.