From the TUC

Message in a bottle from a small island

30 Mar 2009, by in Environment

While the G20 people marched in London on Saturday for Jobs, Justice and Climate, their voices were missed in Bonn, where governments gathered to talk climate change. The UN tabled a ‘focus document’, laying ground for a new global climate treaty. But, with the citizenry in London, our voice was missing again, in word and deed.

The UN’s vision was of “a global transition to a low-emissions future” that would require sustained investment in technological innovation. “All countries should be part of this transition for it to be effective. Developing countries will need support to enhance their respective capabilities.” Looking ahead, “Profound transformations of production and consumption are bound to have economic and social downsides … including on livelihoods and employment, which need to be addressed domestically and internationally”. However, “economic recovery can be boosted by investment in the low-emission transition.”

A strategy that we would support. Three ‘transitions’ and one ‘transformation’ in a single opening paragraph. But the single idea missing here, again, is that word ‘just’: a voice for a Just Transition.

For us, Just Transition includes consultation between stakeholders – governments, unions, industry, communities – at global and national level. It means massive investment in green jobs and skills. Change through consent. Environmental rights at work. Social protection for the most vulnerable. And a massive transfer of funds to the South for climate impacts we can’t avoid. This is why we are calling for a Just Transition Article in the new climate agreement. Because this can no longer be left to governments alone.

In effect, it’s about Jobs, Justice and Climate.

In Bonn, the Association of Small Island States (AOSIS) raised the bar for a new agreement. Hadn’t scientists just last week in Copenhagen challenged the UN’s 2 degrees comfort zone? Sea levels are rising faster than predicted. Hurricane damage is endemic. By 2100, what would be left of the Bahamas, the Maldives, let alone Tuvalu, or any major city on an estuary, would no longer be viable.

We agree with AOSIS that new tougher objectives are needed. One is policy based on evidence. Another is about putting people first, a message the UN has to heed. As it shifts into “full negotiating mode” it’s a just transition or nothing. We have until December in Copenhagen to get that message across.