From the TUC

Cancun Diary 4: UN cuts out labour rights

06 Dec 2010, by in Environment

In an apparent bid to “simplify” its negotiating text, the UN has deleted almost all the references to labour and human rights issues at the climate conference here in Cancun.

The International Trades Union Confederation (ITUC) delegation has been busy setting up meetings with the around 50 national governments we cover here, including the UK whom we met briefly today, Sunday. Our concern is that the UN’s Shared Vision text should set the tone for the real policy solutions for combating climate change.

An ambitious strategy, in which social issues counterbalance an otherwise market driven process, has been replaced by a pared back vision that, to all intents and purposes, repeats minimal aspirations on global temperature rise and a CO2 peaking year (still unspecified, by the way). Whilst there may be a case for seeking to focus more tightly on climate change core issues, the emphases on market solutions are retained, but labour and human rights demands are not.

Whilst we are still in play with our lobbying, this feels like the UN is shifting decisively in a market oriented direction, whether deliberately or out of expediency. Either way, one cant help being reminded of Stern’s dictum, that climate change is the biggest market failure in history. So to elevate market-based solutions doesn’t inspire much faith in this process from the perspective of trade unions, youth, gender and other Observer groups that have invested so much in a progressive, democratically based shared vision.

We came here to lobby for commitment on Finance packages for developing nations, as a way to “operationalise just transition”. In a just transition setting, climate finance offers the means to enable developing nations to invest in climate resilient development – from green growth and agriculture adaptation – in a way that will help to secure decent work, and labour and human rights. ITUC GS, Sharan Burrow, arrives today to a troubled scene. Nevertheless, we are hoping to meet a UK government Minister in the next day or two.