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Just Transition: Unions demand bold action at COP28

23 November, 2023Trade unions globally are defining key expectations and demands to address the pressing issues at COP28. The climate crisis is escalating, and unions are determined to ensure that the voices of workers are not only heard but integral to the decisions that will shape the planet's future.

The 28th session of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) is scheduled in Dubai, UAE, from 30 November to 12 December. The spotlight will be on the commitment of governments to implement the Just Transition Work Program (JTWP) in order to reach the objectives outlined in the Paris Agreement.

The trade union agenda led by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) is the call for the consolidation and reinforcement of the Just Transition Work Program (JTWP). 

“This programme is based on previous COP discussions. The emphasis is on securing a dedicated space within climate negotiations, affirming the labour dimension of just transition, and ensuring the active participation of trade unions through an expert committee. This commitment reflects a resolute stance on integrating workers' concerns into the core of climate policies,”

says Kan Matsuzaki, IndustriALL assistant general secretary.

Unions insist on safeguarding labour and human rights in the context of climate policies. Without appropriate protection and promotion of these rights, effective climate policies are weak. This aligns with trade union’s broader vision of creating a sustainable and equitable future, where the well-being of workers is not sacrificed for environmental gains.

Unions recognize the disproportionate impact of climate change on global South countries, and advocates for the integration of social protection measures into adaptation strategies. This approach aims to address the unique challenges faced by the global South and highlights the importance of global solidarity in climate action.

Discussions on climate finance are centred on concerns about a proposed new quantified global goal, with a specific emphasis on public finance and the creation of a loss and damage fund. Unions are apprehensive regarding the fund's management, particularly questioning the role of the World Bank and associated conditionalities. There is a clear call for transparency and accountability in the allocation of funds for renewable energy projects, particularly in countries like South Africa. 

The success of COP28 relies on a collaborative approach that involves all parties, with trade unions playing a central role in the negotiations.

Diana Junquera Curiel, IndustriALL Just Transition director, insists that: 

“Engaging with government negotiators before the COP is crucial, as decisions are made at the national level before delegates enter the negotiation rooms. It's imperative for union members to be familiar with their government delegations, to seek out negotiators, and to influence decisions that align with the union's vision for a Just Transition."

The union's message is clear: the time for bold and transformative action is now, and COP28 in Dubai is where these demands must be met. Keep up to date on IndutriALL’s website and our social media platforms #Unions4ClimateJustice #UnionsAtCOP28.