Green tilt to balance of power
Come the Minister, come the announcement: at the TUC’s Beyond Crisis conference today, Business Minister Pat McFadden announced the creation and first meeting of the new Forum for a Just Transition, the stakeholder body to oversee delivery of the Government’s low carbon industry strategy.
Brendan Barber told the 400 delegates that, “The balance of power within the employment relationship – for so long tilted in favour of the employer – urgently needs recalibrating. And recognising that unions have a key role to play in leveling the playing field – an intelligent engagement between government, business and unions needs to become part of the political mainstream.”
The Forum was therefore excellent news: “By working together on how we create a low carbon economy, we can both create millions of new green jobs and build a better balanced economy less dependent on finance… How we manage the transition is as important as any other consideration.”
He hoped that, “Just Transition is reflected in the conclusions of the Copenhagen summit as well,” a reference to one of the ITUC’s key demands for the new climate treaty.
Co-chaired by Pat McFadden and Climate & Energy Secretary Ed Miliband, the Forum for a Just Transition will include representatives from the CBI, Energy Intensive Users Group, Education and Skills groups, a strong voice for consumers, RDAs and, of course, seats for the TUC and trade unions. New regional bodies are being created too, such as the Marine forum in the South West, building on each region’s strengths in the green energy industries.
It’s crucial not to lose sight of why we called for a Forum such as this. As we said in our report A Green and Fair Future, previous economic structural shifts have had huge social impacts, with some workers and communities being left behind as industries were restructured by change. This sense of avoiding unintended consequences is reflected in the terms of reference McFadden announced:
- Provide oversight on the delivery of the Government’s 2009 UK Low Carbon Industrial Strategy and its social impact across the UK.
- Discuss and take action on an overarching vision for a low carbon economy that would aid the execution of the 2009 UK Low Carbon Industrial Strategy and the UK Low Carbon Transition Plan.
- Consider and offer views to ministers on what further developments of Government policy are needed to ensure a fair distribution of costs and benefits for the whole of the UK economy.
- Advise on what further economic analysis is needed for the successful development of the UK Low Carbon Industrial Strategy and Low Carbon Transition Plan.
When the Forum meets for the first time on 10 December 2009, to deliberate on just transition at national level, the Copenhagen talks will be in full swing. Think global, act local, as they say.