“Make or break” for climate talks, say unions

Governments must finally step up to their responsibilities and reach a serious agreement at the UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen before it is too late, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has stated.

“We cannot risk waiting any longer,” said ITUC general secretary Guy Ryder. “Decisions must be taken and action has to start immediately. Governments must show the necessary flexibility to recognise that not everything they want can be had this week, yet achieve the most ambitious agreement possible to begin tackling climate change.

“It is essential that basic principles of solidarity be respected, in order to attain a just transition for working people and to provide differentiated responsibilities for developing countries. The human, environmental and economic costs will otherwise be massive.”

Ryder was speaking yesterday at the close of activities at the World of Work pavilion, where some 30 events have been organised over three days by unions from all regions and sectors.  Hundreds of trade unionists are in Copenhagen for the UN climate change conference, and are pressing their country’s leaders to commit themselves to social justice in the transition towards low carbon and climate-resilient economies.

The ITUC has expressed its serious concern at the lack of access to the UN conference centre for civil society. “The exclusion of almost all civil society representatives from the most critical days of COP15 is unacceptable and must not set a precedent,” said Ryder. 

“Trade unions and other civil society organisations provided much of the dynamism at the start of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Rio in 1992, and we have played a key role in the discussions ever since.  It is vital that we again be able to play our full part in this process.”

The ITUC statement, ‘Trade unions and climate change – Equity, justice and solidarity in the fight against climate change’ sets out the international trade union movement’s position in detail, emphasising a need for urgent emission reductions in developed countries, finance for developing countries’ adaptation, creation of green and decent jobs and the implementation of “just transition” policies, through investment in new low-carbon technologies to reduce the carbon footprints of existing industries.

The ITUC represents 175 million workers in 155 countries and territories and has 311 national affiliates.

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