ECO 9, SB58: The Just Transition Work Programme’s Mission

14 June 2023

The Just Transition Work Programme’s Mission

Among the things the Paris Agreement got right, was the recognition that securing a just transition for workers, which creates decent work and good quality jobs, was key for the delivery of the agreement. Hence, when the Just Transition Work Programme (JTWP) was adopted in Sharm El-Sheikh, ECO immediately saw the great opportunity that it offered for implementing a strong, equitable, and rights-based just transition.

On Monday, ECO went to the Contact Group feeling energetic and curious about how the JTWP would shape up. However, it was shocking to see that the US and members of the Umbrella group like UK, Australia, and Japan rejected some of the main wins of the Sharm decision, its scope and the idea that international cooperation needs to be part of the JTWP.

Do they think Just Transition (JT) can be secured only with a few workshops on national action?

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) predicts that at least 80 million jobs may be lost as a consequence of the climate transition, and this will be happening in a context of growing inequalities, unemployment, and poverty. Many countries don’t have the fiscal space to give their workers and communities what they need, diversify their economy, and address energy access issues. Many will face serious challenges in their attempts to go further on their ambition to transition away from polluting sectors because they lack social support for the transition.

We could even wonder, if there is no international cooperation dimension to just transition, why do we even have JTWP in the convention?

This morning, delegates will get a new draft text on the JTWP. ECO expects key demands from civil society to be retained as options, such as references to human rights, workers’ rights and decent work, the rights of Indigenous Peoples, participation of local communities and other key rights holders, and the importance of international cooperation for achieving JT.

ECO also welcomes the possibility for a discussion about JT in relation to the phase out of fossil fuels; creating a new expert body and that the JTWP makes recommendations and guide work on JT and the social and economic impacts of the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

Brazil put it clearly yesterday: The transition is underway. Justice is not. And this is the work programme’s mission.

We do hope Parties engage with the new informal note with a different mindset – one that puts people at the center and leaves climate chaos behind.

And be ready dear Parties, ECO will be watching this space and continue engaging in the discussion.


ECO is looking for a motivated team of Parties to inspire the Global stocktake High Level Committee.

Role description
ECO is looking to assemble a passionate, dedicated and inspiring team of Parties to support the GST High Level Committee. The team of Parties will work around the clock to inspire the High Level Committee to deliver an ambitious, just, gender-responsive and human rights-based GST outcome for people and the planet.

Carry out an inclusive, participatory and bottom-up political phase of the GST;
Design a clear and comprehensive roadmap towards COP28;
Deliver an ambitious, just, gender-responsive and human rights-based GST decision at COP28;
Deliver on the ambitions of the Paris Agreement.

Academic background: an excellent understanding of best available science, including Indigenous and traditional knowledge.
Gender expertise: mastering gender-disaggregated data collection and analysis; demonstrated ability to understand structural barriers to gender equality and applying an intersectional lens in all activities.
Human rights experience: 5 to 7 years of experience in implementing human rights-based approaches in the context of environmental/climate policies (experience with UN, regional or national human rights institutions is a plus).
Track record in developing system transformation: based on feminist economic and ecological alternatives that put the care and well-being of people and planet at the center.

Demonstrated skills and values:
Ability to guarantee inclusion and meaningful participation;
Capacity to uphold human rights obligations in multilateral environmental processes;
Commitment to adhere to values in the context of potential pushback;
Ability to seek consensus and drive ambition across negotiation blocs and observer constituencies.

ECO offers a four-day work week in line with the care economy that humanity and the planet need to thrive.

Mitigation Work Programme: friend, not foe

While discussions on the agenda continue in Bonn, and ECO hopes a solution that will allow us to move forward in fighting the climate crisis emerges, we would like to explain to you once more why we think the Mitigation Work Programme (MWP) is a key element of the UNFCCC/Paris Agreement puzzle.

So here goes a bit of history. At COP26, in Glasgow, there was recognition that the impacts of climate change would be much lower at 1.5°C compared to 2°C and that limiting global warming to 1.5°C requires rapid, deep and sustained reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions. It was also recognised that this requires accelerated action in this critical decade. Parties expressed serious concerns that the findings of the synthesis report of 2021 on nationally determined contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement pointed out that the aggregate greenhouse gas emission level, of all submitted NDCs, is estimated to be 13.7 per cent above the 2010 level in 2030, and emphasised the urgent need to increase efforts to collectively reduce emissions through accelerated action and implementation of domestic mitigation measures. Following which, Parties decided to establish a work programme to urgently scale up mitigation ambition and implementation in this critical decade. It’s all there in the Glasgow Climate Pact.

Last year in Sharm-El-Sheikh you defined that the objective of the work programme shall be to urgently scale up mitigation ambition and implementation in this critical decade, in a manner that complements the global stocktake. Here is how ECO sees that complementarity: the MWP will last until 2030 if renewed in 2026, while GST happens every five years; MWP is only about mitigation solutions while the GST focuses on mitigation, adaptation, means of implementation and hopefully loss and damage; the focus of the MWP is on implementation and sectoral solutions while the GST should provide strong political signals for the next round of NDCs. The MWP will have a key role in making the GST recommendations and guidance actionable next year, and this year it could inspire the GST’s political phase.

Then you also decided that the work programme should be operationalised through focused exchanges of views, information, and ideas. And that its outcomes would be non-prescriptive, non-punitive, facilitative, respectful of national sovereignty and national circumstances, taking into account the nationally determined nature of NDCs, and would not impose new targets or goals. ECO agrees, there is nothing to fear. And from the informal exchanges, ECO understands all Parties agree that the first Global Dialogue and the Investment Focused Event were positive and productive, but could be improved. So, if there is consensus on that, why not have conclusions from co-facilitators here saying exactly that? We’re puzzled.

ECO also knows, recognises and adds its voice to the ones who are rightfully demanding climate finance to unlock climate action. And we think the MWP is there to help on this if we get the Investment Focused Events and the Global Dialogues right. So as soon as we do that we will pave the way for dedicated finance to flow to the right things that can deliver a just energy transition (theme of this year) and other sectoral transitions that may become the themes for the next years of the programme. If this is all in place and flowing, maybe in 2026, we can collectively decide that an MWP is no longer needed, or maybe we get it so right that we want it to last until 2030 to support countries on implementation of their 2030 and 2035 targets. The MWP is here to contribute to delivering, not reinventing the Paris Agreement. It is your friend, not your foe, dear negotiators.

Every Coin Has Two Sides

ECO is hearing lots of rumours, noise, and discussions about a potential renewable energy target in the outcome of the COP. Which in itself is very useful as phasing out fossil fuels requires phasing in the alternatives. There’s talk about that at all levels – not only in the UNFCCC, but also in the finance and business sectors.ECO is aware that there are a number of proposals for a global renewable energy target floating out there and we would need to assess the best options for a 1.5ºC pathway.Now, solutions have two sides. In this case one is clean renewables and infrastructure, the other one is reducing energy demand. The latter one can be achieved both by ensuring we use energy more efficiently and by ensuring energy sufficiency whereby energy demand is adapted to reasonable levels. There is not much talk about this unfortunately. Too boring? Too technical? Yet, in 2022 we witnessed a rapid increase in energy efficiency of 2% globally across all economic sectors. Nonetheless, it was not enough to reduce carbon emissions from fossil fuels. In fact, emissions grew to the highest level ever. We clearly need to do better.Experts have suggested that an annual energy efficiency improvement of 4% will bring down global energy use by about one quarter in 2050, while also ensuring that we overcome energy poverty in developing countries by 2030 along with the necessary economic growth of developing countries.And let’s remember, the IPCC stated in its March report that besides wind and solar, energy efficiency in most sectors has the largest and the most cost-effective mitigation potential in this decade and likely beyond.

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