From the TUC

Warsaw Final: Walking out is not our way, but …

25 Nov 2013, by in Environment

Warsaw steps

“Climate change is real, is increasing in impact and will result in greater devastation, displacement, job loss and social despair if we don’t act. Hence we cannot allow governments to go to climate talks with such unambitious mandates.”

Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, was amongst those leading the walkout at the Warsaw climate conference.

“Science cannot be clearer, but despite this nations have again put self-interest and the short-term first.”  

This Friday’s conference at the TUC, Building Our Green Economic Future , is a first chance to recover and move on. Frances O’Grady, László Andor, EU Commissioner, and Jean lambert MEP are keynote speakers.

My take was this. Unions don’t walk out on talks until the job is done. It’s not our way. But at the United Nations talks in Warsaw the government-to-government negotiations were getting nowhere.

Pledges to cut carbon emissions, finance a just transition, support investment in decent work are all slipping away. We don’t have a place at the table in this process – we can lobby and campaign, build alliances and hold good positive talks with progressive governments who listen. But the fact is, we are witnessing deeply disunited nations at work.

Staying in gives a false legitimacy to failing states. As with any breakdown in talks, we have to go back to our membership and communities to campaign some more, urgently build and strengthen public support and commitment so that when governments meet again next year they can be in doubt where their obligations and responsibilities lie.

As things stand, the UN is in danger of turning its back on the millions who suffered Typhoon Haiyan, leaving the threat of climate change to future generations to handle. This is not acceptable. There is just time to bring governments to their senses on the urgency of climate change, but only if we campaign now for a fair, ambitious and binding climate treaty, where just transition is part of the settlement.

Warsaw approved texts that remain silent on the timeline for fulfilling the climate finance commitment of $100bn by 2020, or the means for increasing emission reduction commitments before 2020 – critical if we want to remain below 2°C in average temperature increase.

For the ITUC, Sharan said:

“We must tell our people what is happening, and ensure governments do not go to Lima with low ambition.”

The labour movement will step up its efforts and mobilise to ensure working people demand climate action with investment in greening all industries to drive sustainable jobs supported by Just Transition measures – a critical strategy for ensuring workers are fully involved in the transformation needed to save our climate.

“Despite the outcome, we leave Warsaw full of hope and with the belief that what happened here will galvanise global determination and thus serve as the foundation for a people-led climate movement.”