Philip's blog

'Just Transition' at COP24

The news from the UN climate talks in Poland, COP24, has generally been disheartening. The US, Russian, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait blocked a statement that the conference 'welcomed' the IPCC's research into the impacts of exceeding 1.5C warming. The Polish hosts have chosen fossil fuel companies to sponsor the talks. They have been accused of silencing civil society voices and of arguing on the world stage for a just transition that they are not prepared to implement at home.

But discussions about Just Transition and the role of unions have never been more central. Philip Pearson reports from Katowice below, on behalf of the Greener Jobs Alliance - there is further information in their latest newsletter.


Led by the Polish Presidency, the United Nations adopted the Just Transition Declaration at the opening of this two-week climate change conference. It’s a remarkable turnaround for us, getting Just Transition demands into the mainstream debates here. But, the declaration is not legally binding on governments, though as Allison Tate of the ITUC told over 100 union delegates here in Poland, the ‘highly political’ statement will oblige governments to up their game and consult with unions on national climate strategies they are now bound to develop. ‘Our task is to hold governments to this commitment, today, tomorrow and every day that follows.’

Significantly, international bodies representing employers and local government have swung their weight behind the UN Just Transition Declaration.

A business guest speaker at the ITUC strategy day (8 December), Peter Glynn from the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), said his organisation supported the declaration, the first time it had mentioned labour issues in its work on climate change. When pressed to explain that ‘labour market reforms’ were needed to help deliver massive new investment, he said that workplaces will only be able to adapt to low carbon technologies when the workforce is adequately equipped. This meant massive programmes creating jobs and new skills, with ‘effective planning involving employers, unions and national institutions.’

Delegates pointed out that the right to organise and collective bargaining were essential to a fair and Just Transition, and asked Glynn to take these messages back to the ICC.

The local governments’ statement on Just Transition is available here.

Jobs and a safe climate - report from TUC fringe meeting

The TUC conference this year was uplifting for those who have long argued that trade unions should take the lead on climate change.

An ambitious motion from the Bakers' Union, passed unanimously, brought trade unions much closer to the vision on energy and industrial strategy set out in Labour's election manifesto. A dozen delegates, from unions including CWU, FBU, Prospect, Unison, USDAW, RMT, PCS, Unite and TSSA took to the rostrum, urging the TUC to campaign for the UK's rigged energy system to return to democratic control, and to work with unions on a cross-sector industrial strategy to tackle 'the irrefutable evidence that dangerous climate change is driving unprecedented changes to our environment.' Full motion here.

The Campaign against Climate Change trade union group pulled off perhaps the best ever green fringe meeting in Brighton: Another world is possible: jobs and a safe climate

Unions spoke passionately about how they saw their union, and the labour movement, can provide the leadership so lacking in government. And the Campaign against Climate Change chair, Suzanne Jeffrey, set out plans for a national conference on Climate and Jobs - another world is possible on 10 March 2018 (note date in your diary!). She said the renewed TUC commitment to tackle climate change provided an opportunity for progressive new policies for the labour movement.