A fossil free world must be founded on a Just Transition for workers and their communities


We are in a race against time to stabilise the climate. For workers and their unions it is simple. There are no jobs on a dead planet. This is much more than a slogan for us. We are already witnessing the loss of lives and livelihoods.

Climate impacts hit working people first and with extreme weather events, changing seasons and rising sea levels, whole communities stand on the frontlines.
The challenge of industrial transformation is both an imperative and an opportunity.

We know there are jobs in action on climate, millions of jobs. With infrastructure investment projected to be up to US$90 trillion by 2030. This means jobs.

There are jobs in renewable energy, more jobs in construction, manufacturing, transport and services as we green every industry and build the mega cities that will accommodate population growth. There are more jobs in agriculture and reforestation.

For unions, our members are involved in every aspect of this challenge - the activists campaigning for action on climate of whom we are proud, the workers in renewable energy who we are organizing and the workers in fossil fuel production and energy distribution. These workers have brought us the prosperity of today and are now on the frontlines of the shift in the energy mix. We demand they be treated with respect and that the transition be a just transition.

A just transition will:

* respect the contribution that workers in fossil fuel industries have made to today’s prosperity and provide income support, retraining, redeployment and secure pensions for older workers;

* recognise that investing in community renewal is critical to gain the hope and trust of affected regions and townships whether energy transition, industrial transformation or disaster;

* support innovation and shared technology to enable energy and manufacturing companies to make the transition with 2020 and 2030 targets for emission reductions and for jobs;

* involve workers in the sectoral plans for the development of clean mega cities

* formalise the jobs in rescue, rebuilding and resilience associated with climate disasters;

* ensure investment in the jobs and decent work vital to both adaptation and mitigation;

* guarantee essential social protection and human rights ;

* be backed up by a Just Transition fund in every nation, and

* be based on social dialogue with all relevant parties, collective bargaining with workers and their unions and the monitoring of agreements which are public and legally enforceable.

Just transition plans are a first step to generate the confidence that people need for backing structural change. These plans need to be constructed through social dialogue with relevant stakeholders at the national level, at municipal level and with workers and their unions at the industry and enterprise level.

For fossil fuel and energy companies where they refuse to plan for transition investors must demand the 2 degrees stress test with tangible targets for transition to renewable energy and the employment and skills development plans that accompany established targets. This is even more urgent with the fall in capex for fossil fuel companies and threat of bankruptcy for major coal companies.

For construction, manufacturing, transport, agriculture, IT and services companies and public authorities it means a plan for using renewable energy, recycling, and heat technologies to secure a green economy future

For Mayors and municipal leaders it means city plans that ensure the involvement of employer and worker organisations across industry sectors and citizens and community leaders to ensure sustainable livable cities and townships.

For investors it means engagement with a call on all companies for a carbon plan consistent with 2 degrees.

Outside of a few national exceptions; Germany with its national energy plan, France with a legislative frame, USA with EPA regulations now under legal challenge and Senegal - unique with a National Multi-stakeholder Committee on climate - the national social dialogue is minimal.

This is the most significant challenge the world will face in the next 30 years but all governments and industry leaders must ensure that there is a funded plan for just transition and union leaders must be at the design table.