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Paris Climate Agreement

The Green Horizon We See Beyond the Big Blue: How Seafarers Will Lead the Just Transition Needed for a Sustainable Shipping Future

By staff - International Transport Workers Federation Seafarer's Section, October 29, 2021

Bush and forest fires, floods, heatwaves, extreme storms and rising sea levels – the life-threatening events which herald dangerous climate change are already taking place around us with increasing frequency. Scientists are clear that humans’ impact on the Earth’s climate is reaching a tipping point beyond which a safe climate is in doubt.

At the heart of the problem is our reliance on greenhouse gas-producing fossil fuels to power industries like shipping, a reliance with a long history. On a global level, international cargo shipping is responsible for about three percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. From the early 1800s, coal was used to fire steam boilers for paddle steamers, which was switched to oil variants when technology improved. Fast forward to today and billions of litres of fossil fuels are used every year to power over 50,000 vessels that keep the world’s supply chain moving.

A Panamax container ship, an averaged sized cargo vessel, consumes about 63,000 gallons (286,403 litres) of marine fuel per day travelling at between 20 and 25 knots.

The global shipping industry must break its dependency on fossil fuels. The rapid expansion of international shipping over the past 50 years has been enabled by the reliance on cheap heavy fuel oil, known as bunker fuel. Key players in the industry have lobbied against restrictions on its use, despite it being one of the most polluting of all fossil fuels.

While it is true that international shipping has low carbon intensity – that is emissions per unit of moved cargo – the total emissions of the industry is very high due to the sheer volume of global maritime shipping. Until now, the focus on carbon intensity as opposed to total carbon emissions has led to false confidence about the carbon footprint of the industry compared to other sectors.

Now that more people are understanding the impact shipping is having on our climate, our industry’s reputation is being damaged. Seafarers want to be able to tell their friends and family that they’re part of a sector taking real and equitable action to curb dangerous climate change. It’s time to act.

Read the text (PDF).

Just recovery and transition: IFIs must act to end the pandemic and achieve a sustainable future

By Global Unions - International Trade Union Confederation, October 29, 2021

The global labour movement has proposed comprehensive measures for the international financial institutions to support a just recovery and transition, including speeding-up production and distribution of vaccines, and putting social dialogue and labour rights at the centre of climate action. The statement calls for suspension or elimination of surcharges on IMF loans, which put an unfair burden on countries in crisis. Discussions moved forward but no decision was reached.

Read the text (PDF).

Hoodwinked in the Hothouse: Examining False Corporate Schemes advanced through the Paris Agreement

It’s time to act now! Just Transition must become a reality today! IndustriALL Global Union and industriAll European Trade Union on COP26

By staff - IndustriaALL, October 2021

On the occasion of the 26th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) taking place on 1-12 November 2021 in Glasgow, IndustriALL Global Union and industriAll European Trade Union - which collectively represent over 50 million workers in industry, energy and mining sectors globally - call on governments to finally act and make Just Transition a reality for everyone and for all generations!

For many years, the International Trade Union Movement has been vocal about the need to ensure a Just Transition that is on par with increased climate ambition. We cannot ignore the urgent need to step up our global efforts to reach climate neutrality as soon as possible. Climate change is affecting everyone, brought to our attention by recent extreme weather events around the globe, but it cannot be that the workforce and the poor will be the first to pay the price. The measures to mitigate and adapt to climate change will not affect everyone equally. Workers around the globe are at the centre of the transition and will be the actors to implement climate ambition through their daily work.

We campaigned for the inclusion of the Just Transition concept in the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015 and for the development of ILO Guidelines on how to implement it on the ground. The ILO Guidelines stress the need for tripartite dialogue, including governments, employers and trade unions, in each of the nine policy areas defined in the just transition framework1. In 2018, during COP24, 56 parties adopted the Solidarity and Just Transition Silesia Declaration, stressing “that Just Transition of the workforce and the creation of decent work and quality jobs are crucial to ensure an effective and inclusive transition to low greenhouse gas emissions and climate resilient development.” The Silesia Declaration invited all relevant stakeholders to implement it. Despite significant progress, in many places Just Transition is too often only nice words on paper.

Declarations and statements of good intentions must now be followed by concrete action. Especially during the COVID-crisis and in the aftermath, jobs were lost, social dialogue was not respected, and workers were driven into precarious conditions. Therefore, IndustriALL Global Union and industriAll European Trade Union call on governments that it is high time to move on from the narrative on paper to implementing a Just Transition through measures and resources on the ground. To achieve this, Just Transition plans must be systematically included as part of the UNFCCC reporting process, in every country.

Read the text (PDF).

Social Justice and Trade Union statements at the PreCOP in Milano

By Gina Cortes Valderrama - Women Gender Climate, September 30, 2021

Thank you, my name is Gina Cortes Valderrama and I speak on behalf of five diverse rights-based constituencies- Women and Gender, Trade unions, Indigenous Peoples, Youth, the Climate Action Network, and Demand Climate Justice. We are speaking collectively to demand ambition, justice, and people-powered solutions. Together, we represent over 3000 organizations in more than 160 countries.

Let’s start with reality:

  • In 2020, five years after Paris promised to uphold human rights in all climate actions, a record number of activists were murdered as they worked to protect the environment
    and land rights.
  • The recent UNFCCC NDC synthesis report warns emissions will be 16 percent above the 2010 level by 2030 - even after the latest mitigation pledges -, while science tells us we need to halve emissions until then.
  • In addition, according to the OECD figures, 2019 climate finance remained $20bn below the target for 2020. And it is virtually certain that the $100bn will not be met in 2021.
  • In all circumstances, the connection between climate impacts and inequality are abundantly clear. These inequities are further exacerbated when a few rich nations have yet refused a TRIPS waiver and ensured vaccine equity with adequate support...

Read the entire text (PDF).

We Make Tomorrow: Briefing for Workers and Trade Unions To Mobilise for COP26

By Workers Action: Cop26 Coalition Trade Union Caucus - We Make Tomorrow, Septmber 20, 2021

Introduction Briefing for Workers and Trade Unions

  1. View this briefing as a Google Slides presentation here or on our website here.

Introduction

This November, world leaders will meet in Glasgow at the global climate talks - COP26 - to discuss our future. 

The COP26 Coalition is a civil society coalition of trade unions, NGOs, community organisations mobilising a week of global action for climate justice

Our Plans

5 November - Supporting Global youth strikes

6 November - Global Day of Action

7-10 November - People’s Summit”

The Global Day of Action

  1. More information about the 5 Nov and Peoples Summit will be available soon

On the 6 November, we are organising decentralised mass mobilisations across the world, bringing together movements to build power for system change – from indigenous struggles to trade unions, and from racial justice groups to youth strikers.

Call for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty

By staff - The Bullet, September 15, 2021

The Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative is spurring international cooperation to end new development of fossil fuels, phase out existing production within the agreed climate limit of 1.5°C and develop plans to support workers, communities and countries dependent on fossil fuels to create secure and healthy livelihoods. Cities such as Vancouver and Barcelona have already endorsed the Treaty with more considering motions to endorse. Hundreds of organizations representing thousands more individuals join the call for world leaders to stop fossil fuel expansion.

Over two thousand academics across disciplines and from 81 countries have delivered a letter demanding a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty to manage a global phase out of coal, oil and gas to governments gathering at the next UN General Assembly (September 14-30, 2021).

In the open letter, the academics recognize that the burning of coal, oil and gas is the greatest contributor to climate change – responsible for almost 80% of carbon dioxide emissions since the industrial revolution. Furthermore, they note that, “air pollution caused by fossil fuels was responsible for almost 1 in 5 deaths worldwide in 2018.”

Despite this, national governments, including the COP26 hosts themselves, plan to expand fossil fuel production at levels that would result in around 120 percent more emissions than what is in keeping with the Paris Agreement target of 1.5ºC of warming.

For more information on the Initiative, please visit the website, explore the Campaign Hub and view the introduction video.

Facing Fossil Fuels’ Future: Challenges and Opportunities for Workers in Canada’s Energy and Labour Transitions

By Teika Newton and Jamie Kirkpatrick - Climate Action Network and BlueGreen Canada, September 2021

Canada has a climate plan but it does not lay out a plan for the future of oil and gas extraction that aligns with the goal to limit global warming to 1.5°C, leaving workers and communities with an uncertain future. The Canada Energy Regulator warns that the future of oil sands extraction, which makes up 62 percent of Canada’s oil output, is uncertain due to the projected drop in the future oil demand as the global pace of decarbonization increases.

Meanwhile, a study backed by the UN Environment Programme further states that global oil and gas output would have to decline by over one third by 2030 and over one half by 2040 to achieve the goal of limiting warming to 1.5°C. In early 2021, the International Energy Agency, one of the world’s foremost authorities on global energy forecasting, published a landmark report, Net Zero by 2050, in which the agency declared that oil and gas output should be constrained to existing operations in order to meet the 1.5°C temperature goals articulated in the Paris Agreement. Constraining Canadian oil and gas output to existing fields approximates a similar rate of phaseout to that proposed by the UNEP-backed report.

he Canadian oil and gas industry, including upstream activities, pipelines, and services, provides approximately 405,000 jobs - 167,000 direct jobs and 238,000 jobs across supply chains. In response to oil price crises, industry’s solution to protect profits has historically been to slash jobs while maintaining output. As a result the number of jobs per barrel of output has already fallen by 20% since 2000.

While oil and gas jobs have significantly better compensation and training provisions than most sectors in the economy, these jobs are also somewhat more precarious and have higher health and safety risks. Union density is higher but is also falling at a more rapid rate than in oth-er industries.8 Finally, automation is projected to threaten between 33%-53% of Canadian oil and gas jobs by 2040.

Read the text (PDF).

Don’t Expect Real Climate Solutions From COP26: It Functions for Corporations

By Simon Pirani - Truthout, August 29, 2021

In the run-up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in the U.K. in November — the 26th session of the talks that were launched in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 — the governments of the world’s richest countries are making ever-louder claims that they are effectively confronting global warming. Nothing could be more dangerous than for social, labor and environmental movements to take this rhetoric at face value and assume that political leaders have the situation under control.

There are three huge falsehoods running through these leaders’ narratives: that rich nations are supporting their poorer counterparts; that “net zero” targets will do what is needed; and that technology-focused “green growth” is the way to decarbonize.

First, wealthier countries claim to be supporting poorer nations — which are contributing least to global warming, and suffering most from its effects — to make the transition away from fossil fuels.

But at the G7 summit in June, the rich countries again failed to keep their own promise, made more than a decade ago, to provide $100 billion per year in climate finance for developing countries. Of the $60 billion per year they have actually come up with, more than half is bogus: analysis by Oxfam has shown that it is mostly loans and non-concessional finance, and that the amounts are often overstated.

Compare this degrading treatment of the Global South with the mobilization of many hundreds of billions for the post-pandemic recovery. Of $657 billion (public money alone) pledged by G20 nations to energy-producing or energy-consuming projects, $296 billion supports fossil fuels, nearly a third greater than the amount supporting clean energy ($228 billion).

Meanwhile, the impacts of climate change are magnified by poverty. This year’s floods, wildfires and record temperatures in Europe and North America have been frightful enough. The same phenomena cause far greater devastation outside the Global North.

In 2020, “very extensive” flooding caused deaths, significant displacement of populations and further impacts from disease in 16 African countries, the World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO’s) annual climate report recorded. India, China and parts of Southeast Asia suffered from record-breaking rainfall and flooding, too.

On the IPCC’s latest climate report: What does it tell us?

By Brian Tokar - Institute for Social Ecology, August 19, 2021

This analysis by ISE board and faculty member Brian Tokar has also appeared on Counterpunch, Climate and Capitalism, Monthly Review Online, ZNet and Green Social Thought:

The UN-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recently released its latest comprehensive report on the state of the earth’s climate. The much-anticipated report dominated the headlines for a few days in early August, then quickly disappeared amidst the latest news from Afghanistan, the fourth wave of Covid-19 infections in the US, and all the latest political rumblings. The report is vast and comprehensive in its scope, and is worthy of more focused attention outside of specialist scientific circles than it has received thus far.

The report affirms much of what we already knew about the state of the global climate, but does so with considerably more clarity and precision than earlier reports. It removes several elements of uncertainty from the climate picture, including some that have wrongly served to reassure powerful interests and the wider public that things may not be as bad as we thought. The IPCC’s latest conclusions reinforce and significantly strengthen all the most urgent warnings that have emerged from the past 30 to 40 years of climate science. It deserves to be understood much more fully than most media outlets have let on, both for what it says, and also what it doesn’t say about the future of the climate and its prospects for the integrity of all life on earth.

First some background. Since 1990, the IPCC has released a series of comprehensive assessments of the state of the earth’s climate, typically every 5 – 6 years. The reports have hundreds of authors, run for many hundreds of pages (this one has over 3000), and represent the international scientific consensus that has emerged from the period since the prior report. Instead of releasing a comprehensive report in 2019, as originally scheduled, the IPCC followed a mandate from the UN to issue three special reports: on the implications of warming above 1.5 degrees (all temperatures here are in Celsius except where otherwise noted), and on the particular implications of climate change for the earth’s lands and oceans. Thus the sixth comprehensive Assessment Report (dubbed AR6) is being released during 2021-22 instead of two years prior. Also the report released last week only presents the work of the first IPCC working group (WGI), focused on the physical science of climate change. The other two reports, on climate impacts (including implications for health, agriculture, forests, biodiversity, etc.) and on climate mitigation – including proposed policy measures – are scheduled for release next February and March, respectively. While the basic science report typically receives far more press coverage, the second report on climate impacts and vulnerabilities is often the most revealing, describing in detail how both ecosystems and human communities will experience the impacts of climate changes.

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