Moving Beyond a Future of Fear and Frustration: Just Transition will enable ambitious climate action

Banner image: Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Like Comment

This article is part of the Forum Network series on International Co-operation and the New Societal Contract. The Forum Network is the place for you to debate policies that can shape the issues and challenges of our time with other experts and engaged citizensJoin for free using your email or social media accounts to share your stories, ideas and expertise in the comments!

We have just a decade left to stabilise the climate crisis and just one year for governments to raise their commitments to meet this test. 

If we imagine the future where no one is left behind; where we act on the call of our children who have taken to the streets in fear and frustration; where people and their communities are well served by Just Transition measures to ensure inclusive economies: we can build it together.

Bold action on climate change could generate over 65 million new low-carbon jobs in 2030 and deliver USD 26 trillion in economic benefits between now and 2030.

Workers and their unions have shown this year that they are part of the solution – part of the growing movement to demand action from their governments.

Follow the OECD on Twitter and keep up to date on how we promote better policies for better lives

Deepening our dialogue with governments, industry sectors and cities, we have also included our workplace activities in the fight for the planet. Our Climate Proof our Work campaign saw unions and organisations in 23 countries challenge their employers to a conversation about plans to climate-proof the workplace, secure jobs and agree Just Transition measures. 

Workers around the world say: Climate-Proof our Work! #CPOW

In September’s Global Week of Climate Action, many thousands of workers joined our young people on the streets to demand climate action. This was an extraordinary act of solidarity across the generations. 

Some countries have understood that climate justice and a Just Transition are necessary for ambitious climate action. Last year during COP24 in Katowice, Poland we successfully negotiated the Solidarity and Just Transition Silesia Declaration with more than 50 countries signing up. Now, we have brokered a Climate Action and Jobs Initiative supported by the United Nations and more than 40 countries, with Spain and Peru taking the lead. With the support of the International Labour Organization we are supporting implementation of Just Transition measures, based on a dialogue with workers and their unions, with research to measure the impact on workers; with social protection measures; with plans for skills development; and with investment in enabling infrastructure and jobs. 

A Decisive Transition: International co-operation on climate action by Wonhyuk LimDirector of the Global Economy Research Division, Korea Development Institute

A Decisive Transition: International co-operation on climate action by Wonhyuk Lim, Director of the Global Economy Research Division, Korea Development Institute

Bold action on climate change could generate over 65 million new low-carbon jobs in 2030 and deliver USD 26 trillion in economic benefits between now and 2030 according to the New Climate Economy

Energy multinationals are leading the way towards ensuring a Just Transition for workers by taking the B Team’s Pledge for a Just Transition in Decent Jobs. The pledge has been signed by companies such as Ørsted, Enel, Autodesk, Safaricom and Unilever. These employers are following guidelines to facilitate social dialogue with workers and unions and ensure fundamental rights, social protection and wage guarantees. 

Get more facts and compare your country on the OECD Environment Data Portal 

Beyond the level of governments our partnership with C40 Cities is helping to support national unions, and global unions such as the ITF and BWI, engage in the dialogue to build net-zero cities with emission-free transport and circular economy developments. Cities can drive economic prosperity but must effectively play their part in addressing the global climate emergency. 

And heavy industry is moving. Steel, cement and aluminium employers expressed their support for reducing emissions at a specific UN forum on Industry Transition during the Climate Action Summit. LO Sweden is working with unions and industry in partnership with the Just Transition Centre and IndustriALL Europe to look at the industry policy measures required including innovation, skills and other Just Transition measures. 

Read the full OECD report Accelerating Climate Action: Refocusing Policies through a Well-being Lens including a chapter on Moving to sustainable industrial production

Accelerating Climate Action: Refocusing Policies through a Well-being Lens

Corporate greed and profit at any cost can no longer underpin transition to a net-zero future – and no company can escape our attention. At the OECD, the ITUC is working closely together with the TUAC in order to promote policies that protect the climate whilst taking into account the impact on workers and their families and communities. 

Our message for all country leaders at COP25 is we have just 10 years. Talking is no longer enough.

As unions we are faced with a very important responsibility. Social progress has never come for free, without struggle from the people affected. This is also the case for climate protection. We need to fight for our place at the table and to see that our demands for climate justice are taken into account. 

Listen to more OECD Podcasts and Follow us to never miss a track!

Our message for all country leaders at COP25 is we have just 10 years. Talking is no longer enough – ambition and Just Transition plans are urgently required to secure the trust of people in every country:

  • Stop the delaying measures and increase ambition in the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs)
  • Start implementing the social dialogue vital for agreements that deliver Just Transition for all
  • Legislate for climate action, including procurement rules
  • Green New Deals must mean a new social contract in every country with labour rights, climate ambition and Just Transition at the core

The ITUC will fight to see no one is left behind.

Related Topics

New Jobs & Occupations
Intergenerational Solidarity

Your comments are what make the Forum Network the unique space it is, connecting citizens, experts and policy makers in open and respectful debate. Whether you agree, disagree or have another point of viewjoin for free using your email or social media accounts and comment below!

Sharan Burrow

General Secretary, ITUC

As a passionate advocate and campaigner for social justice, women’s rights, the environment and labour law reforms, and Sharan has led union negotiations on major economic reforms and labour rights campaigns in her home country of Australia and globally. First elected to the post of General Secretary of the ITUC in 2010, Sharan represents 200 million workers in 163 countries with 332 national affiliates.