We will leave no one behind in a zero carbon future


Governments have started a two-week negotiation for a global agreement to tackle climate change and limit rising world temperatures to two degrees Celsius.

Underpinning the complexity of the negotiations is one simple fact: we must plan for a zero carbon future to avoid the catastrophic loss of life and livelihoods.

Everyone has a job to do to make the social and economic transformation we need to sustain our world. We have a choice: the change can be a just transition, which transforms jobs from the industries of today, to the industries of tomorrow; or it can be disorderly.

We’re choosing to leave no one behind in a zero carbon world.

In a historic partnership, business, NGOs, faith groups and trade unions have called for dialogue to ensure a just transition to a zero carbon economy.

We are in a race against time to stabilise the climate. Renewable energy, sustainable forestry and agriculture, emission-free manufacturing, construction, transport and services are needed to keep rising temperatures to less than 2˚C.

A significant shift in the capacity to recycle and reuse is vital to create a circular economy that ensures our way of life stays within planetary boundaries.

And as sad as it is, there are jobs in rescue, rebuilding and resilience.

Making the transition to zero carbon in our economies and societies is an imperative, but can only succeed if the transition is just.

Success needs governments to show leadership when setting ambitious climate goals in Paris but it also requires all of us – businesses, workers and their unions, civil society and communities – to support change.


Call for dialogue

The representatives and community partners of more than 500 million people and a thousand businesses have called for dialogue to ensure a just transition to a sustainable economy.

The governments of Senegal and Sierra Leone have national climate committees with employers, unions and civil societies – this is a model for every nation.

Germany and France have a plan for transition to renewable energy – now essential for every nation.

France has a legislative framework for a circular economy – nations, business and communities must ensure this is the future.

But people need security and the transition must be just. The measures required to train and re-deploy affected workers, as well as secure pensions for older workers in fossil fuels and other vulnerable industries, must be in place.

Reinvestment in affected communities is critical and governments and business must develop transparent plans for decarbonisation and jobs with workers and civil society.

Workers have a right to know what their governments plan to do to de-carbonise, to secure jobs, to plan for the future. They have a right to know what their employers plan to do to decarbonise, and make sure there are jobs for the future, and to guarantee the entitlements of secure work and pensions.

We have a right to know what our investors are doing – how our pension savings are being funded to guarantee that it won’t be in stranded assets and that it will be used to secure jobs that are sustainable for the future.

That means we demand dialogue – with governments, with employers, with the investment community. A just transition requires us to both engage in dialogue and make sure that no one is left behind.

As hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets in 60 marches in 150 countries, world leaders in Paris should remember people are ahead of their governments. ITUC global polling shows that 90 per cent of workers want climate action in the next 12 months with three-quarters calling for immediate action.

Just as there are no jobs on a dead planet, there is no hope nor economy without jobs – that’s why a just transition is vital to sustainability.

A plan for decarbonisation and jobs in every country and every company must be the ambition that is realised. The first challenge is to the negotiators here in Paris.

A global agreement must commit to just transition.


This blog post was first published on the Huffington Post.