As COP26 begins, we’re campaigning for #AJustTransitionForAll. We reject anyone who may consign the trade union movement to irrelevance on this issue. We will be pushing the government to do much more to achieve a just transition, and argue the case for the role of the trade union movement in working towards our climate goals.
A just transition, simply put, is where industries with high carbon footprints decarbonise whilst providing just pathways for workers in those industries to transition to other roles.
A just transition leads to a greener economy whilst protecting jobs and communities.
A just transition ensures that no worker is left behind.
So how do we achieve a just transition?
In a report earlier in the year by Dr David Coates, ‘A Just Transition? Managing the challenges of technology, trade, climate change and COVID-19’, a framework was laid out for how to ensure the strategic adjustments necessary are made in the coming decades.
The report recommends that the government establish a commission tasked with managing change in industrial towns. The commission would be responsible for monitoring the full range of government policies around industrial change – notably, industrial policy, regional policy, labour market policy, skills policy and the industrial relations architecture.
It further recommends sector forums to manage industrial transitions as well as increased devolution and more robust industrial relations policies.
The U.K. has a poor track record in this area. We saw what happened to the steelworkers in Redcar when industrial change is not managed properly. Thousands of jobs gone, entire communities without work, knock-on effects felt by generations. Community is a steel union, and we are determined to secure a just transition for steel as well as other industries.
As we transition to a net-zero green economy, government must engage and consult with workers.
They must provide a comprehensive training programme to upskill and retrain all workers whose industries may be affected by climate change.
Nobody wants a repeat of Redcar. Again, it is in our power to do so, we just need the political will to make it happen.
COP26 may be our final opportunity to get this right. The window to prevent catastrophic damage to our planet is closing rapidly. Time is of the essence, and we need to act quickly.