From the TUC

Qatar blog #3: A day in the life of a union delegate

06 Dec 2012, by in Environment

Follow unions at the UNFCCC in Qatar

ETUC delegate Benjamin Denis sends this report from Doha, a day before the closure of the Doha meeting.

Ministers have arrived and face crucial unresolved issues. Before the carbon-cutting commitments of the Kyoto Protocol can be relaunched from 01 January 2013, governments must agree how many “carbon credits” can be carried forward into the next period; and how much they can offload domestic commitments onto overseas investments. And some governments are still  stalling on their commitments to the $100bn Green Climate Fund for developing nations agreed in Cancun in December 2010.

“As you can assume, the crucial negotiations are now taking place behind the scene and it is particularly difficult to keep track.” Yesterday, three meetings enabled unions to present their views to European officials.

Just transition

“Early in the afternoon, I participated to a meeting between the three Belgian ministers of environment that are in Doha (Belgium is indeed a complex country) and the members of the Plateforme Justice climatique which Belgian trade unions are part of. I expressed our support for an ambitious climate regime and focused on the need to keep Just transition within the UN’s work program. They reminded me that Belgian Ministers played an active role in the inclusion of the Just transition into the Cancun agreements.”

Renewing the Kyoto Protocol (KP) is a crunch issue for the European trade unions because EU members states form the core group of nations backing a new protocol. The ETUC generally opposes the carrying forward of excessive amounts of unused carbon credits (aka “hot air”) into the next Kyoto agreement – a fresh start is required to achieve real cuts in emissions.

EU industrial policy

“I met a group of four S&D MEPs, including Mathias Groote. After a short stock taking of the negotiations and a reminder of our key demands around the “Just transition”, we mainly discussed with them EU climate policies. They are very keen to engage a dialogue with the ETUC to discuss the future of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme. On the need to take into account the just transition agenda in the EU’s energy roadmap for 2050, they were very open to the idea but MEPs present were not really aware of the calendar of the discussions. We argued for the need to develop further links to the industrial policies and to the social agenda. The atmosphere of the meeting was very positive and further discussions will take place in Brussels.”

Final deal in Paris, 2015?

Meanwhile, the ITUC joined a meeting between French Ministers and civil society. A constructive dialogue took place with a ministerial team that seems to have an ambitious agenda for the climate negotiations, notably because Paris is candidate to host the COP in 2015. This coincides with the dead-line of the new treaty.

How to mobilise people?

“After almost two weeks of negotiations, the general mood of observers is not at the top. Some try to find positive elements. Others look completely desperate about the gap between the evidences provided by the science and the sad reality of this process that, doubtless, moves forward at the pace of the slowest. “In such a context, it is worth thinking on how to raise awareness, how to mobilize people, how to create a political momentum. One idea is a song that some of you will definitely recognize: I don’t know whether it can change the world but I know that there is no progress without collective energy.” 

Regards from the desert. Benjamin