International Trade Union Confederation : Transcripts from the Just Transition, 5-6 December in Montreuil.

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International Trade Union Confederation : Transcripts from the Just Transition, a dialogue weekend discussions, 5-6 December in Montreuil.Industrial transformation, environmental imperatives and just transition

Sharan Burrow, ITUC, started the session by stating that “there are no jobs on a dead planet” is more than a slogan, it is reality. We already see rising sea levels, island states having their existence being threatened and an ever increase in the number of climate refugees. It is also about workers and their communities, they are on the frontlines.

We need to change our economy to stay within planetary boundaries and with the new concept circular economy, we need to look at how we turn our workplaces into green centres.

Our children will not work in fossil fuel industries but we respect the work that has been carried out in these industries and these workers now need our support, we do not want to and we will not leave anyone behind. We need to demand a just transition and we are accepting the responsibility to ensure the dialogue needed and we have called on governments to include just transition in their plans.

We want transformational national industrial plans everywhere. We want pension guarantees, secure employment, an increase of jobs in renewable energy, skills development and social protection measures. The latter is especially important as 70% of people around the world have no proper social protection.

COP21 will not solve climate change, but we need it as a basis to move forward. To ensure zero carbon and zero poverty, we need to include the Sustainable Development Goals as well.

It will have implications for everybody. Municipal leaders, investors and our pension funds need to contribute to the shift. If a company does not have a plan, then we will divest, otherwise we will work together to bring the decarbonisation forward. We have the right to know as workers that decarbonisation is happening, employers need to keep us informed.

Democracies need to be deepened as for the next 30 years this will be the biggest challenge ever.

Get out there and organise.


Samantha Smith, WWF: Climate change is not fair and it affects the poor disproportionally. It is also a crisis for the youth of today and we have a responsibility to them. This is where unions can play a strong role, because youth is also at risk for unsecure employment. They need to be organised and made active for a green future.

So why is someone from WWF talking about this? Because climate change is about people. It is not only about polar bears, the crisis is about people.

The warmest day this summer is going to be the new average temperature in a few decades. That will strongly affects people’s health and people working outside. We can expect many more storms and droughts, so everyone working at the frontline of disaster response will be more in danger.

Even if we see things moving in the right direction, with the energy transition, this is not a problem that markets can solve. The transition needs to move faster and the coal sector is especially slow.

But in the energy sector the emissions have plateaued. This has not happened before, we are seeing the start of the peak of fossil fuels. We are also going to see a revolution in the transport sector as it goes fossil free.

In the last industrial revolution it did not go well for many people and the so this one needs to be a planned one. We need to protect the people that are at risk and help the new workforce. This can only happen with a broad alliance between different actors. For environmental NGOs there is the view that they can solve environmental problems by themselves, focusing on technology, science etc., but with climate change this will not work. They need to understand that what is crucial now is to mobilise people.

As part of the environmental movement, we appreciate the way trade unions have reached out to us. Because it is the trade unions that have done this, not the other way around. We are going through a similar process with faith groups and justice communities. We need to all work together because climate action can results in fewer jobs, more money in the hands of the few and with investments primarily in the technology industry. But this should not be.

WWF has an initiative with companies for how they can show their plans to stay within 2 degree scenario. This should not only be anchored with management but fed down to workers, with the inclusion of social protection.

As regards the divestment movement there is no good answer for how to go about it. We need to marry the urgency of divestment, the end to coal, with the demands for just transition, social protection and investments in new types of industry. We need to jointly discuss how to do this.


Josua Mata, Sentro: What makes climate change difficult to solve is that we are not dealing only with science but also with vested interests. Climate change is caused by the economic system. And we need to change the system. For those of us having fought capitalism, patriarchy etc., we are used to fighting and so it should be easy to move this fight to climate action. But that does not seem to be the case.

The Philippines have been hit hard. The typhon Yolanda is a clear example. Only 100 houses have been rebuilt as the government is only thinking about growth.

The workers in the Philippines are still fighting for basic constitutional rights, i.a. collective bargaining rights, so mobilising for climate action is hard to organise around. However, when we shift the discourse to discuss e.g. green jobs, with the aim to create jobs in the sectors than can help us transition, then this is where trade unions can really get involved. When we fight for climate justice, we are building power and are changing the direction of the economic paradigm.

Energy democracy is another dimension that we need to engage with as energy is one of the biggest sources of carbon emissions. But the energy sector is still controlled by private forces that will want to burn the fossil fuel that is still in the ground. We need to ensure that the energy sector is under the control of the people themselves, that is how we can have true energy democracy.

The Philippine government says that it will only take action if rich countries chip in money. This needs to be questioned. 26 coal plants are planned for the coming years which goes to show that the government is not serious about climate change. We therefore need to build power from the ground and we need to work together in the labour movement, as it is the first and last line of defence. But we cannot do this by ourselves, we need support from environmental ngos and civil society organisations.


Jagoda Munic, Friends of the Earth: It is a false dilemma that we can either have jobs and social protection or a sustainable environment. The dilemma exists because there is a lack of dialogue. Climate change is still perceived as an environmental problem even if it is not. What is needed to solve it is system change, not climate change. The system we would like to see is a world that is based on society, in harmony with nature, including people’s participation, gender and environmental justice, free from exploitation, capitalism and neo-liberalisation. We need to explore how we get there.

Big companies are profiting from the status quo, but the rest of us are not. Therefore we need to challenge corporate power, at all levels, otherwise we will not have a fair climate deal. We need to build power of the people we increase democratisation.

We need to work against the financialisation and commodification of nature, and we need to support communities for establishing just energy solutions. Energy access should be a basic human right but there are still three billion people that do not have access to energy.

Friends of the Earths want to be part of the transition together with trade unions. The best cooperation FoE has had with trade unions is in Latin America, foremost in relation to trade agreements, but also as regards a development without fossil fuel, based on environmental and social justice.

We need to scale up cooperation because it is only united that we can create enough power to combat the business and capitalist interests.


Input from the floor

  • Creating alliances is crucial and we need to look at how to build a mass movement.
  • The financialisation of nature needs to stop. In Indonesia there is no real chance to reduce the impact of climate change as the commodification of nature comes first.
  • We need to explore what we mean by system change, fill it with content and ensure that there is a true political alternative. Further, there will not be any energy democracy unless we focus on usage instead of profit. The circuits of capital are moving faster and faster which has an impact on productivity. This we need to break as it is the core of system change.
  • We need to look at how we deal with the difficulty to replicate wage levels in fossil fuel industries and manufacturing, having industries in China in mind. Trade unions should seek to appoint just transition offices and call on governments to appoint ministers of just transition.
  • We are currently not seeing enough participation of youth, this is evident just looking at our own trade union delegation here with few young people. Climate change is not a priority of young people as they have a short term perspective. Therefore it is our responsibility to ensure that they are included. We need to educate them and take steps to address this issue jointly.
  • As we are agents of change, what are our organisational plans? We need to build on each other’s experiences.
  • In the US many workers are undocumented, domestic workers, not part of formal unions. How do we use the just transition framework in a way that it includes informal workers?
  • Bangladesh is really at risk with rising sea levels and in the country we talk a lot about the informal sector, which consists of a huge number of the workforce. They are the first to be affected by climate change as they are the most vulnerable. We need a comprehensive plan of action at both global and national level and capacity building is essential. These plans need to include us but we are currently seeing a low level of participation. Building strong tripartite systems is important to ensure proper organisation and sustainable power relations.
  • One Million Climate Jobs: We need to guarantee that if one person loses her/his high emission job, then there is a green one waiting. Otherwise the trade union movement will be split at a time when we need to build a much stronger and larger movement.


Feedback from the panellists

Josua Mata: The national Philippine transport union organises taxi drivers. The government now wants to phase out old polluting vehicles but these workers do not have any alternative as they are too poor to invest in new cars. The government needs to provide alternatives for them and not just leave them unemployed. That is not a just transition. The reason we are pushing for more green and energy efficient houses to be built is also because as such workers get to build them themselves and in flood stricken areas jobs are then created locally.

Sharan Burrow: In Indonesia the fight for a living wage is met with government induced violence, and the situation is similar in Cambodia and South Korea. Unless we have a living wage floor and basic protection, unless we have the power to fight for these things, then the floor for fighting for just transition will just not work.

As regards the informal sector we need to discuss what we consider as work. Most people do work, e.g. caring for family and communities, it is just not recognised. We can organise the informal sector and we need to make these jobs formal to ensure social protection.

If we look at what we can have in 30 years, it can be a brilliant future, with the possibilities of the circular economy. Reuse is crucial. We need to share technological solutions, otherwise we are going to put Africa, Asia and Latin America behind the development curve.

We need to bring the young into the conversation as they need to fight for their future. But the young also need to also organise themselves around this issue. Sure we can provide them with education but the mobilisation needs to come from the young too.

Jagoda Munic: The current system provides profit for the few and not jobs for the many. Is renewable energy going to be for everyone or for the few? If we only focus on environmental sustainability there will be an unjust transition.

Samantha Smith: We are at a transformative moment and the outcome is unsure: further accumulation of capital for the few, or mobilisation and just transition. Governments are saying that climate change is a threat to national security, in relation to wars. This is a dangerous agenda but also tells us at the political momentum is here. It is time to seize the moment, otherwise someone will seize it for us. The flip side is that corporations will have to shift fast. We need to challenge their vested interests and challenge the system. Social protection is crucial facing the impacts of climate change.

Hassan Yussuff, CLC: Climate change a daunting task. How do governments respond, how do we respond, and how do we work together? We must put aside differences that we have had in the past because otherwise our impact will not be big enough. We must figure out what unites us and how we can contribute jointly to the global debate.


All equal? A just transition for men and women

Alana Dave, ITF: There are still differences in the understanding of the scale of change needed. Some say vulnerable industries need to be helped and these are dominated by men. Others are saying that a bigger change is needed, a transformation for which we need to build a movement and power.

This debate will shape the direction of the labour movement, but are the terms of the current debate sufficient and deep enough? Connecting commodification of nature, of women, system change and patriarchy is what is needed.

We need to build a movement that fights for both the rights of women and men. To look at how we achieve a just transition and a just gender balance at the same time. Is the system criticism gender blind or not?


Kate Cahoon, GenderCC Women for Climate Justice: Is a feminist network trying to identify how climate change affects women in the current system. It is important to keep structural inequalities, redistribution of resources and time, in mind when discussing climate change. Consumption and production also need to be looked at from a gender perspective.


Tess Vistro, AMIHAN Philippines: The neo-liberal forces are getting stronger and hence the conditions for female workers are getting worse. Only 5 out of 10 women are part of the labour force, and when they are, they have contractual work with foremost service and domestic jobs. They work longer hours than men and in manufacturing they earn 7% less. When climate change strikes, the impact is higher on women as they are more vulnerable and the limited family income makes it harder.

Women also face insecurity with risk reduction governmental programmes. For example in Manila the authorities want to clean up the slums where there are no schools and no sanitation. But many women work there and when they lose their income due to the clean up the face difficulties with rising food prices and services and there is no support from the government. A mitigation project by the government is to shift public transport. In practice they are phasing out the main transportation for the poor which means that many people will lose their jobs. This is the opposite of a just transition.


Montserrat Mir Roca, ETUC: It is important that we avoid social exclusion at all levels and it needs to be stressed that climate change is a crosscutting issue. Women’s rights need to be acknowledged in this context, however gender equality is surprisingly not included in the COP21 negotiations. There needs to be a movement fighting for inclusion of issues of human rights.


Kate Lappin, Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD): In many countries, women are pushed from their land and face no other alternative than to become migrant workers, often in one of the most exploited industries which is domestic work. Landgrabbing is especially a problem in Bangladesh and India. The experienced injustices are a result of the patriarchal capitalist system.


Peter Colley, Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU Australia): 10-20% of CFMEU’s membership are women, foremost in textile and manufacturing. With the coal mining, which has been booming over the past years, now starting to close down, major job losses follow. At the highest point there were 60 000 coal miners whereas now there is only 40 000. The working conditions for the miners are not good as hours are long with 12 hour shifts for sometimes up to four weeks in a row. This excludes anyone who is a primary care giver or anyone giving priority to family and community life. It is physically and psychologically tough work. The new jobs created are lower paid jobs, in e.g. agriculture, wine industry or tourism. A just transition is very important in this context.


Eleanor Blomstrom, Women’s Environment and Development Organisation (WEDO): The green economy is about the corporate bottom line and more of a band aid on the current economy. We need more transformation and we need to think about how we bring gender based solutions into this. One positive example is from Bogota, where a lot of effort was put into public transport, which is especially beneficial for women – even if they in the beginning were not included in the planning.


Input from the floor

  • In Indonesia palm oil plantations and mines are damaging the land and it has serious social and infrastructural implications, such as insufficient water supply.
  • Austerity is deeply affecting women’s lives as their jobs are paying less and less. In the Unite the Union campaign in the UK climate jobs have been framed as the alternative to austerity. 1 out of 10 are living in energy poverty so governmental contributions towards insulating homes would create many jobs in the building sector. The problem is that when one thinks of traditional climate jobs it is male dominated sectors. It needs to be looked at how jobs in building, transport and energy can be open to women as well.
  • In India crop yields are reducing yet a huge amount of energy is put into agriculture. It needs to be looked at how energy statistics are compiled especially since rural people in energy are excluded from statistics, and especially women. To go from karosene to electric lighting would have huge benefits for women
  • In Nepal there are many women migrating to Middle Eastern countries. In reality they are running away from the climate change effects on especially agriculture. In the countries they end up in, they completely lack labour rights. This needs to be bridged.
  • A universal basic income can be a way to transition from paid labour to useful work and it would increase women’s independent income.
  • In Namibia the rate of child sex exploitation is highest in families where the women are domestic workers. The level of inequality is high and they are denied education. The inability to spend time with their children makes the women’s ability to perform well at work poorer as they feel like bad parents. They are not to blame, it is the system that needs to change.
  • In the US thousands of manufacturing jobs have been lost. Many of that have lost their jobs end up with much more insecure ones. Therefore the unions are working on implementing community benefit agreements with the aim to provide jobs for affected communities.
  • The one million climate jobs campaign is a way to unite men and women and ensuring an intergenerational just transition.
  • What has been seen is an increase of working women but without any redistribution of unpaid care work, e.g. cooking and cleaning.
  • In the construction sector in Argentina they have focused on educating their members on just transition and climate change. This is important as the distance between the ordinary worker and the discussions held in the trade union forum is huge. The education therefore focuses on how it affects their work and what the impacts are on the everyday working life.
  • Actionaid’s work in Ghana, South Africa and India on unpaid care work showed that disconnecting unpaid and paid care work with reproductive health is not possible. The decent work agenda feels very far away for many of these women and economic security seemed more relevant. If focusing on solutions it is important to build alliances between environmental NGOs, civil society organisations and trade unions to ensure that work is carried out in a more coherent way, both internationally and nationally. If we jointly agree on the core of the problem, then our solution can be a united systemic response.
  • In Indonesia the conclusion from the training carried out on climate change showed how important education is. People only think short-term and want to get paid today.
  • Shortening working hours should be seen as a partial solution.


Feedback from the panellists

Kate Lappin: Now is the clearest compelling moment to transition people out of dirty jobs. We cannot transition people from one industry to another unless we have systemic change and redistribution of wealth globally. Inequalities between countries need to be challenged, which is why there is currently quite a debate at COP21 with rich countries being reluctant to pay more than poorer. It is very important for NGOs to engage with the trade union movement, marrying the struggles between anti-capitalism and anti-patriarchy.

Montserrat Mir Roca: Collective bargaining structures need to be strengthened to ensure that the salary differences are smaller. Having a basic income might mean that women stop losing their jobs as well as the ones that do not have a job. Many people are facing the prospect of not having a pension in the future and this is another area that is not gender friendly, when many women stay at home for a few years. Another great struggle is the one against gender violence. The ETUC is starting a project called “safe at work, safe at home”, which wants to give instruments to working women to end this problem.

Kate Cahoon: What is needed is redistribution of working hours, domestic chores and capital and the new economy.

Eleanor Blomstrom: Training and skills development needs to go both ways. Women should be trained to e.g. install solar panels, whereas men should be trained to work in the. care industry.

Peter Colley: There is a need for raising the status and pay of workers. Everyone needs to do more, men need to do more at home and explore part time working.


Leaving no one behind:

Alliances for securing a just transition for workers and communities (part 1)


Alison Tate, ITUC: Climate change is the greatest challenge humanity has faced. We must plan for a climate neutral future and we need to work together to ensure justice.


Kumi Naidoo, Greenpeace: There is a lot more interest in these issues from the trade union movement. We need to build red-green alliances and we need to talk about just transition not as a burden but as an opportunity. It is a concept that can be used to talk about better water, better working conditions etc. and we should do so with a lot of fun.

Voice and participation of women are important dimensions of a just transition and we can use it to address gender equality.

Greenpeace has not done anything substantial on just transition yet, but is ready to work together with trade unions to evaluate which companies to push for securing it and in the process, the two different movements can play different roles for the same purpose.


Winnie Byanyima, Oxfam: Alliance building is very important: workers, smallholders, women and youth are at the heart of the transition and they need to be brought together. Addressing the core inequalities of the climate crisis is crucial for Oxfam.

Looking at the COP21 negotiations, the US and the EU only fulfil 1/5 of their contribution to emission cuts if comparing with their fair share. This contrasts with what the poor countries’ pledge and the relation to their actual fair share. Oxfam recently released a report which shows that the poorest have contributed about 10% to global emissions whereas the richest 10% have contributed with more than half of total carbon emissions.

Poor women’s lives are much more vulnerable to climate change, as tasks like looking for firewood and water become more difficult. Just transition means that we need to address intra-country inequalities as well as national inequalities. We need to address the vested interests and we need to tackle the “winner takes it all” attitude. Extreme inequality hinders democracy.


Hilma Kupila Mote, ITUC Africa: The public sector has been shrinking and in several countries the trade unions represent less than 5%. Organising has in turn been focused on the formal sector, which means that many people are left behind. To address this we need to focus more on the informal sector.

Where are we transitioning to if we do not have jobs? To achieve a just transition there is a need for a strong African trade union movement. Additionally an Africa that develops on its own is strongly needed, with accountable and responsible states. For the trade union movement to push for strong environmental language, it needs to be better organised. Young workers, women in the informal sector and people with disabilities need to be focused on. Trade unions also need to stand strong in calling on our government to avoid a race to the bottom, especially in trade agreements.

Africa was not part of the first industrialisation so now there is an opportunity to rewrite history. During the struggles against apartheid no one was left behind. Trade unions, youth, faith and women groups were all involved, restoring democracy. This facilitated alliance building across race, religion and class, something that can be repeated within the just transition framework.


Bernd Nilles, CIDSE: The Catholics have a 2000 year tradition to work for social justice. Now, there is a need for going beyond helping people directly and rather look at the core structures behind inequality. The realisation that there is an environmental problem has come too late, but going beyond these we see that climate change is affecting the poor the most. We allow a very limited number of people to pollute our joint atmosphere.

In Guatemala there are coal mines which local communities protest against as they have an alternative perspective on their environment. It is other interests that push for having mines. Support is needed for these communities and they should be allowed to create the future that they want. For that to happen, privileged people need to give some of them up.


Input from the floor:

  • Just transition is the opportunity to ensure all three pillars of sustainability. Not only for the future workers but also for the ones today. We need to rethink production and consumption, and choose to be remembered as the best generation rather than the worst.
  • Energy distribution is one of the most important factors, which today primarily benefits companies rather than people. The power needs to be given back to the people and to the state.
  • There is a huge energy problem in Ghana. The right to energy should be a fundamental right. The government is trying to introduce coal plants whereas Chinese companies have closed down some already, without any compensation for the workers. The trade union movement needs to have a clearer idea of what it wants the goal to be. The care industry is at the core of the feminist struggle; taking care of nature, taking care of people – we need to bring these two strands together.
  • Demonstrations are an important way to manifest commitment and on 29 November there were lots of people on the streets of Ottawa, sending a strong message for just transition.
  • It needs to be ensured that both the green and the red movement play their roles in a mutually reinforcing way, creating stronger collaboration. Ways of supporting each other when it comes to training and discourse is crucial.
  • In the discussion, there is talk about the issues but not about what can be done in practice. The trade union movement is the weakest it has been since world war second and the corporate power is at its strongest. There needs to be a lot more about concrete proposals, using the power we have with workers controlling a substantial amount of the world’s capital.


Feedback from the panellists

Kumi Naidoo: The wallets of the rich need to be balanced with the power of the people in relation to oil, gas and resources. Many activists, irrespective of whether they are from the trade union, faith or the environmental movement are stifled when it comes to what can be done in practice and it is becoming increasingly difficult to be an activist. Therefore, we need to stand together in solidary to defend each other. Looking at what skills need to be developed. A transition affects different groups in different ways, age being one factor especially in relation to retraining. Older workers should not be punished in a transitional phase. The movements need to work together and it is a core issue for us to ensure this, just transition is not something that can be left for the trade unions to deal with by themselves.

Banks were bailed out because they were too big to fail, and now there is a similar case with oil companies. Energy democracy needs to be ensured in the transition, there cannot be a transition to a green economy under the same rules that prevail today.

Our power has not been leveraged in relation to pension funds to the extent as it should have. The capacity to increase our power in calling for sustainable investments needs to be developed. History teaches us that in the struggle for workers’ and women’s rights, civil disobedience has worked and is something that needs to be used more often. The trade unions have moved to focus on access to power rather than exercising power.

Winnie Byanyima: There are certain issues that can be addressed jointly already, such as social dialogue, reclaiming democracy, air quality, adaptation financing etc. At COP21 they are arguing for cutting back climate adaptation financing and this needs to be fought. For one billion smallholder farmers, the adaptation money needed is 3 USD/farmer/year. This is nothing if distributed equally. Energy is a good entry point for bringing the joint discussion forward.

Bernd Nilles: At CIDSE there is no labelling of campaigns anymore because it is the cause that is important, with a need to have people involved irrespective of where they come from. There is a need to unify.

Hilma Kupila Mote: The organised, the ones with power and control over the development, they need to be disorganised. Jointly we need to demand the right to know what the government and sectoral plans on reduction of emissions are. If you do not organise, you parish and to be able to fight the climate change fight organisation is crucial. Education, health plans, infrastructure, transport is all very important. Solidarity is key and there is a need for better collaborating together.


Leaving no one behind:

Alliances for securing a just transition for workers and communities (part 2)


Laura Martin Murillo, Sustainlabour: Climate action requires just transition as we have to transform the system and build community action.


Archbishop Gabriel Justice Yaw Anokye: The church is primarily in solidarity with the poor and it stands in solidarity for this joint cause.

Jenny Ricks, Actionaid: Climate change has had to become an integrated part of Actionaid’s work, addressing from a justice perspective. It is not possible to just tackle the problems caused by climate change as nowadays we all need to be proactive.

The different stories from across the climate justice movement need to be unified to create a common agenda, visualising the problems of inequality. Setting out an agenda that addresses the systemic challenge that needs to be tackled. Organising locally and nationally is crucial in pushing for change, it needs to be bottom-up.


Bobby Peek, Groundworks, Friends of the Earth: FoE’s message to governments is that they cannot be trusted. The poor do not have trust in the current power, hence they need to organise to create power. The UNFCCC cannot be trusted to make the changes needed, it is left up to trade unions, communities and NGOs to work together and make that change happen. Otherwise what is sent is a false sense of hope. The results from COP21 will be ready on Friday, we need to focus on what we do Saturday onwards.


Diego Azzi, CUT Brazil: In the Americas there is a longstanding work to establish social alliances, with indigenous, women and environmental groups, such as on food security with FoE and ActionAid. In a liberal world, free financial markets lead to speculation and now we see financialisation of nature and carbon markets as a possible outcome from the COP21 negotiations. We need to be present in the places where the effects of climate change are most needed.

There is still a long way to go to bring the issues discussed in the Trade Union Climate Forum down to trade union members, for this training and dialogue are crucial. The governments do not have the possibility to decide what they want because with international trade agreements they are in the hands of business, and the latter are really the key stakeholders in these climate negotiations. They need to be our main target for fighting politics, and to strengthen the state.


Input from the floor

  • There is a need for making matters concrete for normal people. Such as creating jobs for particularly young people to insulate houses in the UK, win-win for energy security and jobs. Identifying concrete actions make it easier to connect with other movement. The role of the state is very important and should be a focus.
  • Facilitating dialogue between workers in the oil industries and the ones affected should be a priority, alliance building is important.
  • There is a divide between environmental NGOs and trade unions. In the UK, Unite the Union has set up a community branch where precarious workers such as migrant workers can join a trade union and start a dialogue. In the UK there is still a big arms industry, an industry which could easily be transformed into renewable energy engineering jobs.
  • Trade unions in Spain have strong alliances with environmental NGOs and there is work done to strengthen it further. The government in Spain has dismantled the renewable energy sector which had 100 000 jobs just a few years ago, now the unemployment rate is high and the energy sector is becoming more monopolised.
  • There are strong vested interests in this struggle. It is a question of power and together we need to build counter power. There is not enough strategy building and mobilising of social forces. We should not be begging for a seat at the table, we need to show our strength and mobilisation power. That way employers will come to us, rather than the other way around.
  • In the trade union movement we should ensure coordination to ensure exchange of information and best practice, bringing local and national activities, strategies and campaigns to each other and looking at how they can be scaled up.
  • At local level a lot can be done but in California the local solutions were solutions for the rich. Problems with eviction, drought and water distribution have been issues which the trade unions are trying to figure out its strategies to, and how to resist the rich and powerful.


Feedback from the panellists

Archbishop Gabriel Justice Yaw Anokye: The frustration vented should not be a reason to bring us down, and the vision should not be blurred by the big powers. Wants to send a message of belief in the cause and the force to change. There is no room for discouragement. The pope is interested in COP21 because the poor, the common, are the ones that are the affected, and the church therefore needs to play its role.

Jenny Ricks: There are many reasons for frustration but also for hope. The entry point for mobilising and organising is the everyday challenge that the individual is faced with. Working bottom up is crucial and ActionAid managed to stop a Swedish sugar deal with Tanzania this way.

In Zambia there is a community group fighting against a mine on health grounds. A worker in the mine is one of the main drivers, and the community has allied with women groups and faith leaders. They have managed to come together because they have all understood that the problem is bigger than any of their individual perspectives.

Bobby Peek: From an environmental justice perspective the push is for green, decent and well-paid jobs, access to health and food and democratic practises. There is clearly unity between the different movements.

Diego Azzi: Pope Francis’ intervention has been gaining the respect of the public opinion as he is talking about respect for humanity as a whole and for our common house: Mother Earth. Disaster is usually what makes people wake up, e.g. Fukoshima made Germany develop a national green energy plan, water scarcity in Brazil is playing its role.

In the southern hemisphere there is a long tradition of demanding justice based on historic injustice. Therefore it is easy to make the link when discussing just transition, connecting it to the history of unfairness of the global economy. There is a north-south problem that needs to be addressed in relation to financing, technology transfer, state clauses and property rights protection are a few of these contentious issues. The right to development is another one that needs to be recognised. The north cannot deny the south that.

Laura Martin Murillo: The many victories at local level should be given more prominence to help us in the global movement. After two days of dialogue it is clear that NGOs and trade unions alike do not want to leave anyone behind. We need to jointly build the solutions because they are not all there yet.

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