The UN climate talks in Morocco open this week to discuss how to deliver the promises of the historic 2015 Paris Agreement to stay below a 2°C increase in average temperate, and ensure a just transition to a zero-carbon future for workers and their communities.
The entry into force of the Paris Agreement has given a sense of progress in the long running global climate negotiations, but there are growing concerns over the activities of coal, oil and gas companies that could be an impediment to a sustainable future with a secure basis for the just transition of workers and their communities.
"Ambition, a sense of urgency and political will for a just transition with shared finance and technology are needed to make the Paris Agreement work. A minority of corporate interests intends to benefit until the last minute by obstructing real change. Climate change is already costing jobs and livelihoods on a large scale, and after years of delays and excuses, the transition is happening, and the world needs to take decisive steps," said Sharan Burrow, General Secretary, International Trade Union Confederation.
Oil companies including Saudi Aramco, Total, BP and Royal Dutch Shell have announced that they will put money into a new fund, aimed at projects such as carbon capture and storage, improving engine efficiency, and reducing methane leakage from pipelines. While these could have some impact, the $1 billion committed is a fraction of money saved from ending exploration and will not scale up renewables to the point that ensures they transition, maintain jobs and secure the future.
"Staying below a 2°C average increase and aiming at 1.5°C will only be reached through concrete measures to dramatically change production and consumption patterns and if national emissions reduction objectives, in particular in developed countries, are reviewed with greater ambition, before 2018," said Sharan Burrow.
Trade unions have three demands for governments to deliver a successful climate change conference:
Raise ambition and realise the job-creation potential of climate action
Deliver on climate finance and support the most vulnerable
Commit to securing a just transition for workers and their communities
"Millions of workers and families still depend on a fossil-fuel based economy for their jobs and livelihoods. They have generated the energy required for today’s prosperity. Governments and employers, with workers and their unions, must sit together and commit to protect our future through a just transition strategy - a plan which guarantees decent work for all," said Ms Burrow.
In Australia, unions and the community are campaigning to Repower Port Augusta with a solar thermal plant. In India, the Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) is working to replace diesel power with solar power for the pumps that are used in salt harvesting, and in Norway trade unions are collaborating with government and employers to plan the transformation to low- and zero-emissions transport.
The ITUC is leading a delegation of 150 trade union members from 50 countries at COP 22 in Marrakesh.