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G20 discussions on Just Transition must include unions

15 May, 2023The G20 Energy Transition Working Group (ETWG) meeting is currently underway in Mumbai. Under India’s G20 presidency, workers’ voices go unrepresented in the meetings. 

Priority areas for discussions include energy transition through addressing technology gaps, low-cost financing for energy transition, fuels for future, energy security and diversified supply chains, energy efficiency, industrial low carbon transitions and responsible consumption, and universal access to clean energy and just, affordable, and inclusive energy transition pathway.

The aim of the meeting is to ‘identify collective actions to promote equitable, shared, and inclusive growth’.

Apoorva Kaiwar, IndustriALL Global Union regional secretary, says:

“Equitable and inclusive growth cannot be attained without taking into account workers’ experiences and perspectives. It’s highly condemnable that the Indian government has refused to engage with trade unions on the issue of Just Transition.”

The ITUC and unions from across the G20 countries have also denounced the Indian government’s decision to interrupt the participation of independent trade unions in G20 and instead have Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) chair the L20 meetings. BMS is the Hindu nationalist trade union centre linked to the right-wing ruling party in the country.

SQ Zama, secretary general of IndustriALL affiliate Indian National Mineworkers’ Federation, says:

“The government of India is not concerned about workers at all. It is evident in the changes made to labour laws as well as in the complete absence of trade union voices in energy transition discussions. Our union has been calling on the government to  engage with trade unions and to put climate change and Just Transition on the agenda of all discussions regarding coal mining in the country.”

India’s position on Just Transition remains ambiguous. In its submission on the Long-Term Low Emission Development Strategy to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, during COP27, the government stated that it will focus on the ‘rational utilization of national resources with due regard to energy security’.

According to the latest media reports, the Ministry of coal has set a target of one billion tonnes of coal production by 2023-24, most of which is to be achieved through private coal mining.

Photo credit: © ILO/J. Urmila 2018