Jobs are a climate change issue

The European Union is to support Just Transition, it seems.

A 15 October Brussels coordinating conference of unions working on environmental issues heard an EU spokesperson reiterate that Europe is 100 per cent behind the inclusion of a Just Transition clause in the agreement to be sought at the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen this December.

It’s evident the issue is not at the top of the EU’s wishlist, however. The UK TUC’s Touchstone blog reports an EU official addressing the union meeting “seemed at first to be unaware” of Just Transition. The bureaucracy, apparently, is preoccupied with the targets for carbon dioxide reduction.

Policy makers can’t just gloss over the jobs issue if they really want to secure this reduction from those industries that are heavy consumers of energy and among those producing most of  the troubling gases. Unemployment is a political issue; that makes it a climate change issue too.

Unions have ensured the Just Transition language appears in the text of draft agreement and have secured support from a wide range of environmental groups. It will take ongoing pressure to ensure it survives the discussions, however.

The TUC blog points out that in implementing measures for carbon dioxide reduction “our plans for a Just Transition, with the emphasis on consultation, investment in green jobs and low carbon technology, and building green skills, will be even more necessary to secure the road from Copenhagen to the transformed world we’ll live and work in 2020.”

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