Poznan climate talks: A deal for North and South
I’m at the UN Climate Change Conference in Poznan, where the ITUC’s statement and our lobbying activities are aimed at the core trade union issues of employment rights and making sure that workers have a seat at the table. We’re trying to raise a broad set of employment related issues for trade unions from the North and the South: understanding the full economic and social consequences of climate change, the job creation opportunities and quality of those jobs, the impacts on affected workers/communities from climate change, and standards for a just transition.
The AFL-CIO delegation from the USA describes its Bali experience last year as transformative for its delegates. The AFL-CIO’s head of delegation, Bob Baugh, says: “For most it was their first international experience and it was a good one. We saw and felt international trade union solidarity. There was a shared purpose and strategies. And, we affected the process. Over the past year the UN working groups took up the issues we raised. Back home, we found that the strategies we pursued in our own climate change legislation paralleled those of trade unions across the globe.” The AFL-CIO took its green and decent jobs to the heart of the Obama campaign and the rest, as they say, is history.
Now, in Poznan, meetings will focus on the tough issues shaped by the Bali framework agreement. These include emission reduction targets, identifying the differentiated responsibilities of all nations, technology transfer, financing change, financial assistance for developing nations and green jobs.
If the targets issue is a challenging one for the US – far exceeding the standards suggested in the most recent US legislation – there is easier agreement on what steps we should be taking to invest in renewable technologies, clean coal and energy efficiency measures that create good jobs.
There is a great deal of speculation and excitement about where the US is headed with the Obama administration. With China now edging ahead of the US as the largest emitter by scale, but still a fraction of the US in per capita figures, both nations are at the center of any agreement.
Equally, a key issue for uniions from the South is funding for adaptation. There have been strong words from Least Developed Nations at the paucity of funds available for adaptation – they after all are on the frontline of climate change driven by the developed world. The fear is that the global financial crisis will impact severely on financial flows required southwards from the Northern economies. Not that the sums are astronomical – $70billion annually has been quoted. It’s on the scale of an average bank rescue, and an essential ingredient to a global climate deal.