Just Transition Needs Fast-Tracking, Here in Madrid

12 December 2019

Well, after already delaying a year, it looks likely that the 6-year work-plan for the Forum on the Implementation Response Measures has stalled, though discussion continues, facilitated by a pair of Ministers. 

While it sounds nice to include “recalls the imperative for a just transition,” in the draft decision, let’s be honest, there is NO action in remembering something. That is just unacceptable. 

This round of negotiations started out promisingly as countries began to discuss issues related to a fair, equitable, and just transition from a dirty fossil-fuel energy economy to a 100% clean, renewable one. But, they also demonstrated how difficult and critical these issues are, particularly if countries want to ensure (as they should) that the transition protects the rights of Indigenous communities, workers and unions, youth, women and gender constituents, people with disabilities, frontline communities, and other structurally oppressed groups. 

A just transition – if done right – will jumpstart new social and economic development with a more resilient and democratic economy, while increasing climate ambition. It is, therefore, central to every country’s effort to decarbonize. Yet, equity and justice continue to be divorced from ambition goals, NDCs, finance, and other commitments, siloed inside one single forum. The fact that Response Measures continues to stall underscores the need to address just transition issues head-on in all actions that need to happen to combat the climate crisis. 

ECO therefore urges the Conference of the Parties to include just transition goals in ambition and finance, and in the Decisions of the Parties, urging all Parties to incorporate within their revised NDCs just and equitable transition plans for and led by all workers, labour unions and communities impacted by the energy transition. We cannot afford to wait any longer as just transition and economic diversification discussions under the UNFCCC continue to be kicked down the road. They must be treated with the same level of urgency as other elements of the COP agenda.

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