Climate demonstration in Paris © Private
#COP21: Unions call for ‘fair and ambitious Paris agreement’
Trade union delegates at the Paris COP21 joined with others today to protest about the threat to human rights. This includes the rights of indigenous peoples, gender equality, intergenerational equity, a just transition, food security and the integrity of ecosystems.
Norway and the USA have been prominent in trying to remove these references from Article 2 of the draft agreement. It represents a complete failure to understand that climate policy must be linked to social justice and eradication of poverty.
The second week of the talks is now underway. The trade union bloc met this morning to assess progress so far. The verdict – that there is a real danger that we will leave Paris with a deal likely to push us over a 1.5ᵒC degree rise in temperatures never mind the 2ᵒC degrees target.
The current Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) on future emission targets are insufficient. We need an agreement that provides for an early acceleration of ambition by 2018.
A process of assessment every 5 years would then inform both current implementation and future commitments. Some countries are opposing a transparent process to make this assessment and want to delay any mechanisms until 2024. Such an approach would be a disaster.
The current draft of the agreement is full of bracketed text and options that will now be knocked together into a final draft at the end of the week. Members of UCU, UNISON and the TUC met with one of the UK negotiators to express our concerns. Some of these concerns are shared by the UK government and we were informed that the UK, working within the EU bloc, is committed to a deal that meets not only the 2 degree ambition but also one that recognises the need for a 1.5 target.
When the issue of support for ‘Just Transition’ to be included in the text was raised, we were informed that the UK supports the EU position of ‘passive support. ‘ In other words, it is not seen as a priority. We are concerned that without ‘positive support’ from the UK and EU, those countries who oppose protection and support for the workforce will win the day.
Amber Rudd, the DECC Secretary of State, has been appointed to the ‘Çomité de Paris’ as one of the 14 ministerial facilitators. She will facilitate the work on ‘Acceleration of pre-2020 activity’. This is despite her performance in the UK of de-accelerating the transition to a low carbon economy by undermining support for renewable energy. Watch this space.