UN edges towards union calls for Just Transition in Paris deal
The UN has adopted union calls for a Just Transition in a new 20-page negotiating text released today for the climate conference scheduled for Paris in December. Unions will be pleased that the UN’s Draft Agreement commits nations to holding global temperature increases to below 2 °C (or possibly to below 1.5 °C) through cuts in carbon emissions, and to an early review of progress.
But we may be less happy that references to Just Transition and Decent Work are found not in the UN’s Draft Agreement but in the UN Decisions chapters that follow it in the 20-page document. We could read into this ploy that when the UN decides that nations should be “respecting human rights… participation in environmental decision-making by civil society and a just transition of the workforce and creation of decent work and quality jobs,” these are seen as “nice to have” principles, not embedded the Paris treaty itself.
As Business Green points out, the new draft text is just 20 pages long, less than a quarter of the size of the previous 89-page document negotiators were working from. It provides a concise basis for negotiations at the final round of preliminary talks, which will take place in Bonn, Germany, on October 19-23.
The UN Decisions text says that in supporting the new treaty, governments are:
“Emphasizing the importance of respecting and taking into account human rights, gender equality, the rights of indigenous peoples, intergenerational concerns, and the needs of particularly vulnerable groups, including women, children and persons with disabilities, when taking action to address climate change, as well as of aligning actions with the goal of promoting food security, restoration of degraded lands, national health policies, participation in environmental decision-making by civil society and individuals, and a just transition of the workforce and creation of decent work and quality jobs in accordance with nationally defined development priorities and strategies.”
So, the draft text sets out which elements of the deal will be legally binding, and which parts will go into an evolving decision document.
The draft agreement includes a long-term global goal for a low-carbon transition, although a number of proposals for the precise nature of the new target remain in the text in square brackets, meaning they are still subject to negotiation by diplomats.
The text also confirms that countries will be expected to commit to the submission of new climate action plans pledging further carbon-cutting action every five years. This will ensure the current Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) submitted by countries can be strengthened if, as expected, their carbon cuts still fall short of what is needed put the global economy on a track to limiting global temperature increases to 2C.
The evolving decision document contains an option for a “facilitative dialogue” meeting in 2018 or 2019 to allow countries to take stock of the progress on cutting emissio
Better if nations all bit the bullet now and agreed to a maximum global temperature rise of 1.5 degrees. Haven’t they noticed that Pacific island States are now drowning?