New alliance of trade unions, environmental & civil society groups call for Just Transition Commission to tackle climate change

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A newly formed alliance of trade unions, environmental and civil society groups has called for the immediate establishment of a national Just Transition Commission to develop an agreed blueprint for the zero-carbon transition, build public support for climate action and ensure that no worker or community is left behind.

The founding members of the Just Transition Alliance include: the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, SIPTU, Fórsa, Friends of the Earth, the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition and TASC.

You can listem back to Oisín's speech at the launch online.

An agreed Joint Declaration issued by the Just Transition Alliance states:
“We need a Just Transition to protect and create jobs, reduce emissions, enhance living standards, safeguard and restore biodiversity and generate new opportunities that will help to build sustainable, resilient communities across the country.”

The Alliance is calling for the immediate establishment of a national Just Transition Commission based on social dialogue and in line with guidelines developed by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) on implementing a Just Transition. The Climate Action Plan includes a commitment to set up a commission, but this will not happen until mid to late 2023, under the schedule set out.

Speaking at a launch event for the Just Transition Alliance, the President of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, Kevin Callinan said:

“Job losses and lower living standards are not the automatic outcome of the carbon transition, but come instead from poor policy and bad planning. It will not be possible to build and sustain public support for vital climate action if it is allowed to become synonymous with job losses and lower living standards.

“The Government is now devising sectoral emission ceilings for all economic sectors, but it does not appear to contemplate any form of dialogue or engagement with communities or unions that represent workers in these sectors. We believe that each new sectoral ceiling must be accompanied by a mandatory Employment Impact Report, which identifies the measures required to mitigate or offset job losses.”

The formation of the Alliance was warmly welcomed by the General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, Sharan Burrow, who also spoke at the launch event. She said:

“Trust and confidence are absolutely vital to ensure that working people and their communities support the rapid action necessary to stabilise the planet - which is our only home. This means that we urgently require a Just Transition to ensure that we leave no one behind.”

Commenting on the launch of the Alliance Oisín Coghlan, Director of Friends of the Earth, told the event that:

“We need to cut polluting emissions fast enough to avoid complete climate breakdown. And fairly enough to leave no one behind. A Just Transition for workers and communities affected by the race to zero must be at the heart of this effort.

"The first step is for the government to finally keep its word to sit down and talk with representatives of workers and other stakeholders including environmentalists. That's why I delighted that Friends of the Earth is joining with trade unions today to launch the Just Transition Alliance. And we commit to continued collaboration as we rise to the challenges and grasp the opportunities ahead as we forge a safer, fairer, zero pollution future."

Shana Cohen, the Director of think tank TASC said:
“The war in the Ukraine has highlighted the need to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and the fact that effective climate action will have reduce inequality and strengthen democracy.

“We can’t act against the impact of climate change with high and persistent levels of inequality, because families and individuals won’t have the resources to engage, while the public must also have confidence that climate action works for them.

“The best policy response would be for the government to think long-term and more comprehensively about how changes in jobs, lifestyles, education and training, and income influence effective climate action, and likewise, the contribution of civil society and local government to bolstering public confidence in government decision-making.”


A copy of the Just Transition Alliance Joint Declaration is available at this link