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COP21 and the Paris Agreement: A starting point, not a finish line

14 December, 2015The final version of the Paris Decision and Agreement was released Saturday 12 December at the end of COP21 – the twenty-first Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The outcome is weak and imperfect in several areas, but may be the best that could be politically achieved at this moment, and may nevertheless mark a turning point for the planet.

IndustriALL Global Union’s 50 million affiliated workers in the mining, energy and manufacturing sectors will be among those first and most affected by necessary measures to control climate change. That is why IndustriALL has engaged strongly in the discussions, demanding that a fair global deal be struck, accompanied with strong social protections, policies for job creation and decent work in sustainable industries, and a Just Transition for workers in affected sectors
Jyrki Raina, IndustriALL general secretary says:

The Paris Agreement must be seen as a starting point, not a finish line. It creates an institutional framework that has all the necessary ingredients to succeed. Whether it actually does, or not, is now up to us. IndustriALL must be ready to lead the way forward.

There is the ambition to hold “global average temperature to well below 2 degrees C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees C above pre-industrial levels”. There is acknowledgement that a transformation of the economy is coming. There are references, although weak, to needed financial and technical support for developing nations.
Just Transition, a key demand of the labour movement, is incorporated with clear language asking the Parties to take into account “the imperatives of a just transition of the workforce and the creation of decent work and quality jobs in accordance with nationally defined development priorities”. This text appears in the preamble to the Agreement rather than in the body where we would have preferred it, but it nevertheless is a political commitment of the signatories.
On whether the Paris Agreement will limit damage to the earth's climate systems while protecting workers, creating decent work and quality jobs, and respecting human and labour rights, Brian Kohler, IndustriALL's sustainability director says:

As always, it will be up to the labour movement to see that it happens. No-one else will do it for us. We are ready.