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TUAC: Just Transition principles are key in the fight against climate change

19 February 2019

On the occasion of the Senior Level meeting of the OECD Environment Policy Committee on 13-14 February 2019, the TUAC called on the OECD and Member States to strengthen their efforts to ensure a just transition when combatting the effects of climate change on communities and workers, and to that end, take advantage of the parallel OECD initiatives on the Future of Work. The TUAC furthermore stressed the importance of ensuring transparency, accountability and fair risk-sharing in policy measure aiming at mobilising private sector finance for climate and infrastructure finance.

The OECD Environment Policy Committee (EPOC) consists of delegates from OECD Member States and meets 1-2 times per year. At the heart of the work of the EPOC is the overall strategic direction and the implementation of the OECD’s Environment Programme. As such, the EPOC together with the OECD secretariat does important work on assessing the economic costs and environmental benefits of climate policies and long-term climate stabilisations scenarios.

At the meeting on 13-14 February 2019, the TUAC underlined the imperative to ensure a just transition in the efforts to combat climate change, yet leave nobody behind. The TUAC reminded the EPOC that the necessity of a just transition of the workforce and the creation of decent work and quality jobs are recognised in the Paris Agreement and the United Nations’ 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. Together, they can pave the way to a zero-poverty and zero-carbon world.

The TUAC further noted that the importance of the just transition principles was emphasised at the COP 24 in Katowice, Poland. Here, 53 countries and the European Commission signed the “Solidarity and Just Transition Silesia Declaration” at the initiative of the Polish COP Presidency. Therein, countries committed themselves to address the impact of climate change and climate policies on workers, their families and communities when preparing and/ or implementing their commitments and their national adaptation plans. This is an important first step.

Moving beyond first steps, the TUAC encouraged the OECD to develop policy analysis, guidance and recommendations to assist member states and beyond in implementing the Silesia Declaration and more broadly a just transition framework. In doing so, the EPOC could capitalise and build on existing and upcoming OECD outputs as part of the OECD Jobs Strategy review, the Future of Work initiative and the Going Digital Horizontal Project.

Reaching the objectives set in the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals will require substantial investments, not least in infrastructure. The TUAC agrees with the EPOC on the need to align financial flows with low-emission and resilient development pathways. However, in the discussions on the financing of climate futures and infrastructure, the TUAC reminded the EPOC of the importance of a transparent public leadership over climate and infrastructure finance. This is vital if we are to ensure that future infrastructure and services are accessible and affordable for all. The TUAC therefore stressed the importance of the Guidelines on responsible business conduct, not least for institutional investors, seen as private resources and investors are likely to be behind trillions of dollars needed for infrastructure projects.

There is no question that reaching the objectives laid out in the Paris Agreement and the SDGs is of paramount importance. The TUAC will therefore continue to engage with the EPOC in close cooperation with partners in ITUC and the Just Transition Centre in order to ensure that the just transition principles are firmly rooted in these efforts.