For this COP to be successful, governments, particularly major emitters, must not only commit to mitigation and finance targets that are 1.5°C-compatible pathways; they must also ensure that the transition from an extractive economy to a regenerative one is just and equitable for all involved.
The reason is simple: neoliberal and unsustainable economies that have fuelled the climate crisis have also fuelled a deep socio-economic inequality among and within countries. We must take this once-in-a-century opportunity to establish new relationships of power that are focused on justice, equity, and environmental sustainability to give our future a fighting chance. Workers deserve good jobs with family-sustaining wages, where workers have a voice in their terms of employment. Moreover, it is critical that these new jobs are created in and by the very communities that are losing them, and that community-led programs are established with meaningful public input to help workers transition to new employment, receive protections until they are able to start their new jobs, and are supported with vocational education programs to succeed in their new choice of employment.
ECO urges that all Parties in the next round of NDCs must incorporate just and equitable transition plans for and led by all workers and communities impacted by the energy transition.
The Katowice Committee of Experts on the Impacts of the Implementation of Response Measures (KCI) met on 29 and 30 November. For those who may not know, the KCI is a body of experts that supports the Forum on the Implementation of Response Measures and it serves the three main bodies--the COP, the CMA and the CMP-- and offers a space for countries to address both the negative and positive impacts of mitigation action domestically and internationally. Essentially, at COP24, countries agreed on themes for a work program that reflects countries’ concerns related to the impact of response measures. The thematic areas are:
Economic diversification and transformation;
Just transition of the workforce and the creation of decent work and quality jobs;
Assessing and analyzing the impacts of the implementation of response measures;
In June at SB50, countries weren’t able to agree on a work plan and on the organization of work for the forum for the next 6 years as mandated at COP24. ECO is concerned that the progress on these negotiations continues to be extremely slow because of political games between the parties. It’s disappointing that, on one hand, when countries decide to constructively engage in different activities related to response measures, like those under the KCI, members experienced rich discussions on domestic examples of positive and negative impacts of the implementation of mitigation measures. On the other hand, when it comes to negotiating and agreeing on key elements to make progress on these issues at the UNFCCC, Parties fail to deliver. There can’t be ambition if there is no justice.
ECO wants to see action. Just transition elements and economic diversification discussions under the UNFCCC must be treated to the same level of urgency as other elements of the COP25 agenda. We cannot recreate an imbalanced power relationship that leads us to the same place we are in now: severe socio-economic inequality and, literally, planetary destruction.
ECO has one message for all Parties: don’t act like a fossil, and do adopt the 6-year work plan of the forum by the end of COP25. A just transition should not take a backseat to any country plans; it is an integral part of charting a working pathway forward to beat the climate emergency.