From the TUC

Cancun Diary #3: Recapture lost ground

03 Dec 2010, by in Environment

The climate crisis, like the financial turmoil, stems from an unsustainable economic model. What is the point of negotiating a climate change treaty based on that model? Our vision of a just transition seeks at least to counterbalance the market with progressive principles of decent work and union voice. Today, in response to the deletion of key progressive texts, ITUC delegate Bob Baugh (AFL_CIO) was first up with questions on what the UN was about?

At a UN briefing chaired by Margaret Mukahanana-Sangarwe of Zimbabwe, he reminded the chair that decent work and quality jobs were vital to workers and communities across the world. We were surprised and disappointed to find these hard-won references missing from text when they had broad support among all governments. The whole ITUC delegation was in the process of speaking again to our governments, reaffirming their support and seeking to have this reinstated. 

Groups representing other major Observer groups raised similar concerns with the chair over the deletion of references to gender, youth and human rights issues.

In response, Margaret Mukahanana-Sangarwe said that their attempt to shorten the text was “only to limit the focus of immediate decisions”. She admitted that she had already heard from many countries about these changes, and that its inclusion for decisions in Cancun is under serious consideration. 

These issues have been raised with a number of delegations today, including the UK. We have pointed out that the Shared vision text had been reduced to two paragraphs. The Just Transition language has brought the global labour movement together behind a new UN treaty. This has not been an easy process, but decent work and quality jobs are going to underpin low carbon development, and the sooner these jobs roll out the better. In short, we want these principles reinstated.

Union negotiators naturally find it difficult when draft agreement A, that seems to be going well, is replaced by draft B, in which key demands are missing. As simple souls we can find no comfort in such a process.

Governments have responded that the text had been too bulky. Too full of controversial matter. Expectations have been trimmed. The earlier text still held good. This new “conference room paper” (CRP) was merely seeking to focus governments’ support around basic issues…

The UN chair made it clear that the attempt to shorten the shared vision did not mean JT was gone for ever. Even if it did not end up in the Cancun text, it remains on table for final treaty language. Can we have confidence in such a process? We don’t think so. How to recapture it here and now?