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COP25 blog – 3 December 2019

4 December, 2019The second day of COP 25 in Madrid, Spain. Brian Kohler, IndustiALL sustainability director reports.

At the trade union morning meeting, Just Transition was top of the list. Our guest speaker from the ILO indicated that the ILO is taking the issue more seriously and making a greater effort to get member states to commit to a Just Transition, using the ILO’s guidance. This is welcome news.

In mainstream discussions, as pointed out in yesterday’s blog, resolving member states’ differences on Article 6 will prove difficult. As is often the case when so-called “market mechanisms” are under debate, the social dimension – what happens to workers and their communities, for example – are easily forgotten. There is no market without people. I will be watching this issue closely.

I will try to capture, below, a few interesting snippets from subsidiary and side events.

Women: The gender dimensions of sustainability (and climate impact) are not being taken seriously. Not only will women frequently be the earliest and most seriously affected by climate change, but because of lower educational opportunities and more precarious work, will have less resilience to deal with it. Given that women are under-represented in the political process of most countries, it is also less likely that their plight will be addressed.

Just Transition: In a side event on energy issues, IndustriALL affiliate Joie Warnock of Unifor Canada spoke on the efforts made to craft a Just Transition for coal miners in Western Canada, and how a change in the Provincial government was undoing much of what had been agreed upon. 

Rising production of fossil fuels: At the same side event, another interesting and worrisome aspect of the global crisis was highlighted. Many people are aware of the emissions gap – the difference between global greenhouse gas emissions and what they need to be if we are to maintain global average temperature increase to less than 1.5 Celsius degrees. The other gap, however, is the production gap. While the world makes too-slow efforts to reduce fossil fuel use, energy companies continue to explore and drill furiously, finding more reserves of fossil fuels that are worthless unless extracted and burned. To recoup their investment they must then lobby governments to allow the resources to be extracted and burned. Many resource-rich countries are planning increased production in the years to come. This is impossible to reconcile with any real effort to reduce global carbon dioxide emissions.

Minorities: Other events highlighted the climate-related issues facing indigenous peoples, and disabled persons.

Oceans: More alarming science was revealed, this time about the climate stress and acidification already affecting the world’s oceans.