Climate change requires more than change in consumption. It also requires us to transform production. Our economies are faced with a social, economic, and ecological transition we have rarely seen before, that leads to both risks and possibilities for our labour markets and workers. Together we in the Nordic and German trade union movements support both the Paris agreement and our governments ambitions to reduce greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This is crucial for our future.
This transformation requires that the transition to a climate neutral society is fair. In the Paris agreement this is called Just Transition. The agreement states that those who have signed it, our governments, and the EU, shall consider “the imperatives of a just transition of the workforce and the creation of decent work and quality jobs”.
Unfortunately, the Paris agreement does not take a clear standing on what just transition means. Therefore we, in the Nordic trade union movement together with our colleagues from the German Trade Union Federation DGB have looked into the issue of Just Transition in our joint project ”The Road Towards a Carbon-Free Society”. Here we have formulated a progressive answer aimed at our governments, EU, and the Nordic Council of Ministers. Today, on the 17th of March we launch the report.
Just Transition means that the social partners must have a clear role when climate policy is developed, as it has consequences on the labour markets. We require a holistic perspective.
Just Transition also means that our governments and parliaments must invest in education as the transformation will lead to new requirements on workers. Therefore, investments are required on education, continuous skills development, and lifelong learning.
Just Transition also means that social security networks are crucial to safeguard workers and their families during the transition from one job to another. A secure income and safe employment ease the transition, in the Nordics we know this from long before. Insecurity in the labour market can lead to vulnerable groups opposing the requirements of climate change prevention. If citizens are not a part of the transition, we risk growing discontent and polarisation on society.
Just Transition requires investments. Investments in for example green technology can create new job opportunities. Green technology also has a high export potential that can benefit small, open and export dependent economies like ours. The incentives created for technological change must be sustainable and clear in their formulations so that companies have an opportunity to plan their investments in both technology and skills development of their workforce.
Finally, we suggest a cooperation for Just Transition between the Nordic countries and Germany. This would contribute to us reaching our climate goals. We have shared challenges when it comes to greenhouse gasses in emission heavy sectors, while we have high ambitions to reduce them. We are dependent of export and open economies marked by high technological development. We share the opportunity to find innovations and contribute to the technological development of energy sources.
We also have a strongly organised workforce and strong trade unions, and a tradition for social dialogue. Our countries must therefore become Just Transition Frontrunners, and together with the social partners push the issue of just transition on the national, European and the international arena.
Antti Palola President NFS och STTK
Magnus GisslerGeneral Secretary NFS
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