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COP28: put a truly Just Transition at the centre of climate action

13 September 2023

For the first time ever, and as a result of trade unions’ long-standing engagement, the UN’s Convention on Climate Change process includes this year a “Just Transition Work Programme” to be discussed at COP28 in Dubai (30 November to 12 December).

A small delegation of trade unionists, led by TUAC, managed to make some fundamental points to the OECD Climate Change Experts Group Forum – made up of representatives from OECD countries and countries of the global south (including COP negotiators) about Just Transition and climate financing.

OECD research shows that the concept of “just transition” is now widely used and increasingly important for governments, international organizations and companies, but there are wide differences in how countries and companies frame and implement their endeavours. [1]

So, the OECD meeting was a unique opportunity to share a message that will have to be repeated many times between now and COP28 (and no doubt again afterwards).

The trade unions underlined that a just transition has at its heart two fundamental ideas:

  • Just Transition must first and foremost be understood as a just transition of the workforce. It must be about decent work, creating jobs, skills training, high employment, workers’ rights and managing change so that workers and communities are simply left jobless.
  • A just transition must be with workers, not simply about workers. This means it must be underpinned by a process that includes information, consultation, social dialogue and collective bargaining.


TUAC delegation to OECD Climate Change Experts Group Forum

It is also true that a just transition – without which people will not support climate action – depends on financing climate action (socially just action). And there is a massive gap between the financing promises made in and around previous COP meetings and the funding actually made available in reality. Reform of multilateral development Banks and putting an end to restrictive monetary policies should be at the heart of the discussion of any new climate finance deal, which is being called a “New Collective Quantitative Goal” (NCQG).

The meeting was also an opportunity for TUAC’s delegation to meet with representatives of the United Arab Emirates Presidency of COP28 and to make the labour movement’s key demands for the outcome of COP28, but also in terms of inclusiveness, transparency, and accountability.

TUAC’s delegation included Martin Denis (TUAC), Bert De Wel (ITUC) and Romain Descottes (CGT, France).


NOTE: For the OECD research showing how just transition is widely used but with big differences in framing and implementation see OECD, Center on Well-being, Inclusion, Sustainability and Equal Opportunity (WISE), Policy Insights, Unpacking public and private efforts on just transition, May 2023