8 December, 2019Brian Kohler, IndustriALL director of sustainability shares his impressions of COP25 in Madrid, Spain.
The second week of COP25 started today; and the year 2019 quickly draws to a close. Time, I have noticed, seems to make less and less sense as I get older.
Despite the pessimism that I often display, it cannot be denied that the 25th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change shows some positive signs. People and parties are talking seriously about the climate crisis who couldn't be bothered, or actively denied it, as recently as five years ago. Greta Thunberg arrived on Friday and the youth movement she started is having a huge impact. Hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets to demand action. There is no doubt that the negotiators inside the COP process are aware of all of this.
Today was set aside for a Trade Union Strategy day on Just Transition for Climate Action. The trade union movement is committed to making climate action central to its mission – for truly, there are no jobs on a dead planet. Just Transition is the way forward. Discussions included how to work with other civil society organizations, the role of public ownership, challenging the neoliberal narrative, and more.
Pepe Álvarez Suárez - Secretario General UGT and Unai Sordo Calvo - Secretario General CCOO, welcomed the trade union delegates to Spain and set the scene. Everyone expressed their solidarity with the Chilean people, and particularly its trade unionists, in the face of the current repression. The trade union delegation considers the Chilean Presidency of COP25 to be illigitemate. Michelle Bachelet Jeria, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and former President of Chile, addressed us on the importance of grounding climate action in human rights. Her speech was especially relevant given the present situation in her home country. Asad Rehman of War on Want spoke on the relationship between the climate crisis and human rights abuses, and challenged the trade union movement to step up and show leadership in building global solidarity for action and justice.
IndustriALL Global Union assistant general secretary Kemal Özkan spoke at today’s meeting and delivered a powerful message on how IndustriALL is demanding a Just Transition as part of its overall strategy on Sustainable Industrial Policy, and using tools such as social dialogue, Global Framework Agreements, union networks, ILO meetings, policy and guidance documents, and campaigns to make its points.
Other speakers included Unions Joaquin Perez Secretario General USO, Ludovic Voet Confederal Secretary ETUC, Jose de las Morenas de Toro (UGT), ITUC’s regional coordinators, Tara Peel (CLC), David Boys (PSI) and Samantha Smith (ITUC Just Transition Centre).
I will speak tomorrow at a side event on Just Transition for Climate Action. The fight continues!