Project: The Road to a Carbon Free Society
Global warming is a challenge that knows no borders. Therefore, international cooperation will be a precondition for success. This is true for those of us who are active in the trade union movement too, as any globally negotiated climate policy will undoubtedly have consequences on the production of goods and services. This in turn presents workers and trade union members with other challenges, both in the Nordics and around the world. We support our respective countries' goals to reduce emissions and their demands for a transition. But we also demand that this transition be just.
With this in mind, we have worked closely with the German trade union movement (Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund, DGB) and the German think tank the Friedrich Ebert Foundation during 2020. This cooperation has produced six country reports, from the five Nordic countries plus Germany, drafted by our member organisations and the DGB.
The country reports are the basis for our joint German-Nordic climate report, and a number of policy recommendations addressed to the Nordic countries, the Nordic Council of Ministers and Germany, the European Union, and the UN and the ILO.
A German-Nordic voice in climate policy
Our joint report and policy recommendations were approved and adopted at the end of 2020 by both our Executive Committee and that of the DGB. This effectively means that the project represents the wishes of no less than 14.5 million trade union members in the Nordics and Germany. For the Nordics, this means that about 70% of the Nordic labour force is represented by national confederations, as well as white collar workers' and academics' organisations, through this project.
The project takes as its starting point the goal expressed in the Paris Agreement to hold "... the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C [...] and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C". This requires a social, economic and environmental transition on an unprecedented scale. Both businesses and labour markets will need to readjust, as both the production and consumption of goods and services in society contribute to global warming through the emission of greenhouse gases.
The importance of Just Transition
The magnitude of the transition required is difficult to grasp. It is perfectly clear however that as the characteristics of production change as a result of climate policy, workplaces will also change, or at worst disappear. Our basic premise is therefore that any transition must be just. The premise, known precisely as the Just Transition, is promoted by the International Trade Union Confederation, and has been included in the preamble to the Paris Agreement. From a Nordic point of view, the Just Transition clearly overlaps with the Nordic model and its three pillars.
Specifically, a successful and just green transition will require investment in green technology, education, lifelong learning and transitional support. These are important prerequisites, shared by the Nordic and German trade union movements, for working to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, as well as to bridge the social consequences and effect that climate policy will have on the labour market. It is also a matter of competitiveness and full employment however. There is more information to be found below in our report "The Road Towards a Carbon-Free Society" as well as in the respective country reports for Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Germany. You can also find out more about our climate policy under the heading "Our views".
During 2021 we will join our German colleagues in promoting the topic of climate and just transition to our governments, the Nordic Council of Ministers, the European Trade Union Confederation and the EU, as well as to the ITUC, the UN, the ILO and at COP 26 in Glasgow.
Developing our German-Nordic project has allowed us to extend and strengthen cooperation between the Nordic and German trade union movements, both on the level of elected representatives and officers. This cooperation has also enhanced understanding of the Nordic and German challenges linked to the climate challenge.
José Pérez Johansson, NFS
Patrizia Kraft, DGB
Meike Büscher, FES
Henrik Jepsen, FH Danmark
Pernille Hagedorn-Rasmussen, Akademikerne Danmark (IDA)
Pia Björkbacka, SAK Finland
Leila Kurki, STTK Finland
Maríanna Traustadóttir, ASÍ Island
Sigríður Ingibjörg Ingadóttir, BSRB Island
Þórunn Sveinbjarnardóttir, BHM Island
Anne-Beth Skrede, LO Norge
André Okaty Dahl, Unio Norge
Håvard Lismoen, YS Norge
Johan Hall, LO Sverige
Hanna Finmo, TCO Sverige
Tobias Lundquist, Saco Sverige (Naturvetarna)
Patrizia Kraft, DGB Tyskland
Magnus Gissler, NFS
Frederik Moch, DGB
Philipp Fink, FES