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Trade unions join walkout of Warsaw Climate Talks

21 November, 2013IndustriALL and the ITUC today join the walkout of labour, environmental, and development NGOs in protest of the lack of progress at COP-19. This is the first time such a broad coalition of non-governmental observer organizations have walked out of a COP meeting.

Brian Kohler, Director for Health, Safety and Sustainability at IndustriALL explained:

These talks have degenerated from tragedy, to farce. Even with the stark warning provided by Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda, national leaders have failed to show sufficient ambition to address the problems. Indeed, we have observed the opposite, with attempts to backtrack on decisions taken at previous COPs.

ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow said:

We have been shocked by some of the wealthiest nations including Canada and Australia showing a lack of responsibility for ambitious targets and with almost all developed nations failing to commit vital finance and even questioning the need for 'just transition' measures for the worlds' workers and their families."

The corporate dominance on show is unacceptable. It is the same companies that advocate environmental and social responsibility that exploit workers and the environment through their supply chains.

Added Kohler: "Only an orderly and planned process to a sustainable future, that respects and protects existing workers while seeking and sharing the technology to create future decent jobs will save us from climate catastrophe. Our demand remains the same as it has been for many years: a Just Transition to a sustainable future based on a fair, ambitious, and legally binding global emissions regime."

It is unsurprising that powerful corporate voices would wage a campaign of disinformation and job blackmail to delay action. This has nothing to do with science, and everything to do with trillions of dollars worth of fossil fuel reserves whose value may be affected by any action plan. What is shameful is that democratically-elected governments would listen to those voices over the voices of their own citizens, and the other citizens of planet earth. Trade unions expect government negotiators to reflect on whose interests they serve and return to the next COP, planned for Lima, Peru in 2014, with a mandate to strike a meaningful deal. Time is running out.