7 April, 2022The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), LO Norway and IndustriALL Global Union kick off with a first meeting on 7 April to launch the Initiative for a Just Transition in the energy sector.
121 participants from unions in 32 countries exchanged information at the launch of the Initiative for a Just Transition in the energy sector. Unions expressed strong support for this initiative, seeing it as timely and important to address concerns about progress on a Just Transition in different countries and the lack of union involvement.
“We need a strong labour movement, if we can’t manage a Just Transition, then we leave workers stranded. There is a timeframe on which the Earth will not repair itself for a stable future if we don't transition.
“On the other hand, there are good jobs in energy sources beyond fossil fuel, and we need to organize them. We know that investment in climate action brings jobs, but we need to make sure they're good jobs. And that means organizing,”
said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.
The energy sector plays a critical role in national and regional economies. National and international energy companies have provided millions of organized direct jobs in the past. Energy sector revenues are key for state, regional and national budgets.
LO Norway President Peggy Hessen Folsvik explained that in Norway, the petroleum industry has been one of the most important industries for the past 50 years. It accounts for 22 per cent of the state income and employs over 220,000 workers.
“Transitions will be challenging, but not impossible.
“Our trade unions support the Paris Agreement, and we understand that jobs might shift sooner rather than later. It is an important task to ensure a Just Transition for the workers in this sector,”
Political conflicts, growing instability, strategic competition, and security threats have made many countries reassess their energy systems; from importing fossil fuels to speeding up the buildout of all forms of clean energy. Energy security is a critical issue that, combined with climate concerns, is accelerating efforts to develop clean energy with secure and domestic supply chains.
Large countries have plans to invest in clean energy transition technologies, but unions argued that there is no guarantee that a move to these technologies will keep and create good jobs.
Participants also made it clear that companies are investing in energy transition unilaterally; workers are left out of the process; and companies are not investing enough to accomplish the commitment set by the Paris Agreement.
Trade unions are not satisfied with efforts by the energy companies so far. Existing collective bargaining, climate target-setting, and responsible business initiatives are not getting enough results in the sector.
Today’s launch includes two initiatives; the first one will look at technologies and country examples to get the facts on jobs. Unions and experts will share information on jobs, skills, markets, investments, and emissions for technologies such as hydrogen, CCS, offshore wind and other renewables, alternative fuels, and energy services.
With the second initiative, the ITUC, LO Norway and IndustriALL plan to explore the potential for a new, tripartite process anchored in the UN and focused on Just Transition in the energy sector, starting with oil and gas. The initiative would help get and enforce global decent jobs and Just Transition agreements between oil and gas companies and trade unions. If successful, global unions plan to expand to include other energy and industrial companies.
“One of the aims of the partnership launched today is to develop Just Transition agreements with multinational corporations under the auspices of the United Nations. These can become powerful tools for energy workers of the world. Trade unions need a seat at the table and society should recognize the need for trade unions at this table. I really look forward to seeing how far this initiative can take us,”
said Atle Høie, IndustriALL general secretary.