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COP27 must deliver on a Just Transition for all

10 November, 2022Only four days into COP27 and it is hard to turn a corner without hearing or seeing the words Just Transition. Trade unions at COP27 are very clear that this term coined by our movement is not to be used by governments and employers if they plan a transition without workers at the table.

There is a lot of pressure on this year’s COP to deliver as we are far from the objectives set by the Paris Agreement. Global warming is increasing and financing the transition is at the heart of discussion. 

The New Collective Quantified Goal (NCQG) on climate finance which must be finalized by 2024 and is set to replace the US$100 billion climate finance goal set in Glasgow. It is clear that we should be looking at trillions to seriously achieve anything.

Developed industrialized countries in the Global North whose emissions have largely driven global warming are called on to pay up for this transition. However, we are far from and achieving an adequate financing as the discussion is moving very slowly with developed countries dragging their feet.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change. Its 2022 report says: 

  • Climate impacts are globally worse than expected;
  • There will be even worse impacts from climate change in the near-term;
  • Risks will escalate fast with higher temperatures, causing irreversible impacts of climate change ;
  • Inequity, conflict and development challenges are increasing vulnerability to climate risks ;
  • Adaptation is crucial, feasible solutions already exist, but more support needs to reach vulnerable communities ; and
  • Some impacts of climate change are already too severe to adapt to, we need urgent action now to address losses and damages.

The IPCC also estimates that much greater annual investment from all sources will be needed globally for the world to transition to a low-carbon future and avoid warming exceeding 1.5°C.

This year’s COP is also referred to as “Africa’s COP", as it must address Africa’s climate challenges and deliver on climate finance. 

Africa has challenges but a transition is possible. But how will it be done? Economies today are based on exploitation of natural resources; looking to Just Transition to create more decent jobs with investment in environmentally sustainable production is key.

600 million people in Africa don’t have access to energy, so improving access is key. There is a need in Africa to focus on renewable technologies in energy, agriculture, and transportation to improve the welfare of communities.

Barely one week into the conference and trade unions are working fiercely to ensure that Just Transition standards are included in all levels of the negotiations. Mobilizing around ministers and government representatives is important. Key areas unions are focusing on are climate financing, loss and damages, response measures and mitigation.

“We must ensure that the Paris Agreement commitments are implemented and that those who are the worst impacted by climate change are guaranteed real solutions. Workers cannot pay the bills of the climate, energy and price crisis, and as trade unions, we must ensure a Just Transition for all. No one can be left behind”

said Diana Junqera Curiel, IndustriALL energy director.

COP27 is taking place in Egypt. On Thursay morning a demonstration was held where everyone wore white in solidarity with jailed activists.

British-Egyptian Alaa Abdel-Fattah was jailed almost a decade ago by Egyptian authorities on charges of spreading disinformation. He has been on hunger strike for months and on Sunday stopped drinking water to bring attention to his struggle and that of rights activists like him during COP27.

"Human right abuses are our business, they are at the heart of our business. If we don’t have strong democracies committed to fundamental human and labor rights, then our fight to achieve just climate goals will be impossible!"

said Sharan Burrow ITUC general secreatry.