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The transition to a low carbon economy must be done with, not against workers, says OECD

23 May 2017

Today the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has released its report “Investing in Climate, Investing in Growth”, which shows how climate action is a precondition, as much as an enabler for inclusive growth. Consistent with the Paris Agreement, the OECD joins for the first time the growing number of organisations supporting Just Transition strategies as critical for smoothing the impact of the low carbon transition on workers and communities dependent on fossil fuels.

The trade union movement has been calling in different international arenas for a coherent approach to reducing inequalities, growing decent jobs and fighting climate change” said John Evans, General Secretary of the Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD. “With this report, the OECD sends a positive signal to workers about the need for them to be accompanied and have a voice in the transition to a low carbon economy” he added.

The OECD report, which was elaborated following a demand of the German G20 Presidency, highlights the role trade unions are playing in advocating for a transition that supports decent work opportunities, planning, social protection and re-skilling programmes, among other Just Transition policies.

“Governments need to realise that Just Transition strategies are vital for building social support for climate action”, said Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, and who served as a member of the Advisory Panel to the report. “Investments in clean, resilient infrastructure, policies aimed at complementing carbon pricing with other measures such as regulations and standards and the creation of social dialogue mechanisms for planning the transition are all highlighted in the report, and will play a fundamental role in ensuring we respect the Paris Agreement”, she added.

The report goes further in conditioning the pertinence of some traditional OECD recommendations, such as labour market reform, to the need to ensure that workers in affected industries are supported through the transition.

Governments must realise that reducing inequalities, growing decent jobs and fighting climate change require leadership and coherent decision making. The trade union movement is convinced that Just Transition policies can be drivers of the multi-faceted, ambitious policy making working people need”, concluded Evans.