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Trade Unions for Energy Democracy Bulletin 124

By staff - Trade Unions for Energy Democracy, September 22, 2022

Towards a Public Pathway Approach to a Just Energy Transition for the Global South

Leaders from trade unions, three Global Union Federations, and allied organizations representing 27 countries in Africa, Latin America, and Asia Pacific will gather in Nairobi, Kenya, in mid-October to launch a new trade union initiative to promote a “public pathway” approach to a just energy transition in the Global South. The goal of the gathering is to lay the foundations for a South-led trade union platform that will focus on how to strengthen the trade union response to the kind of “green structural adjustment” proposals that are today being pushed by the rich countries, the IMF, and the World Bank.

The 3-day, 70-person, meeting in Nairobi comes at a time when there is growing support for a public pathway approach to energy transition and climate protection that can address the failures of the current ineffective and regressive profit-focused policies. This growing support is reflected in the Trade Union Program for a Public Low-Carbon Energy Future (TUP) that was announced at COP26 in Glasgow last November. 

Global South Labor Leaders on the Launch of TUED South

“Global South unions must lead on international efforts against dead-end just transition policies which have disproportionately served private capital against our public services and deepened neo-colonial power disparities. While recognizing our varying contexts, Global South unions face important common challenges and are made stronger by identifying and confronting them with a shared analysis for a public pathway.” —Everline Aketch, Ph.D., Public Services International Sub-regional Secretary for English-Speaking Africa 

“Our objective in Nairobi is first to coalesce as Global South unions and begin to offer an alternative to the “green structural adjustment” based on the public pathway approach. And second, to lay the groundwork for a platform that allows continued coordination and discussions to sustain this alternative.” —Josua Mata, Executive Director, SENTRO, Philippines 

“As Latin American unions, we are hoping that the meeting will establish a process and provide a platform for more rigorous South-South trade union cooperation around research, analysis and consideration of action-oriented programmatic options for social justice." —Adolfo Aguirre, National Coordinator of Workers of the Industry (CNTI-CTA-A) and Secretary of International Relations of CTA-A of Argentina 

“In Nairobi, we will dedicate our focus on issues such as persistent energy poverty, the lack of public transport, the neglect of adaptation planning, our need to rebuild public assets, and the growth of extractive industries such as mining. I am eager to have discussions with comrades on how our unions across the South and North can work with allies towards a common international agenda with global public goods at its center.” —John Mark Mwanika, International Transport Workers Federation, and Amalgamated Transport & General Workers Union (Uganda)

“The TUED project emerged from trade discussions during the 2012 Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development where some unions wanted to develop an alternative to the neoliberal “green growth” model. After 10 years of developing an independent analysis and seeing the growing trade union support for it, we are excited to bring together trade unionists from developing economies to Nairobi, Kenya, to begin developing a platform that can resist “green structural adjustment” and policy colonialism and put forward public energy pathway.” —Irene HongPing Shen, Trade Unions for Energy Democracy (TUED) 

The meeting in Nairobi has been supported by unions in the TUED network, the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung-NY Office, and the School of Labor and Urban Studies, City University of New York.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author.

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