Unions Say Climate Action to Create 48 Million Jobs


23 MAY 2014
Trade unions worldwide say strong climate action could deliver 48 million jobs

LONDON: A new international campaign, Unions4Climate action, has been launched at the World Congress of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) this week. The movement aims to draw attention to the potential of the low carbon economy, with a focus on green job creation.

More than 50 trade unions across the globe are demanding that governments deliver an ambitious climate agreement at the UNFCCC 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris next year. The international gathering is the deadline for determining the post 2020 climate framework and widely recognized as a crucial meeting for delivering meaningful climate action.

Józef Niemiec, Deputy General Secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), commented: “The ETUC urges governments to agree to an ambitious and legally binding agreement in Paris next year. A global framework, built on common but differentiated responsibilities, is the cornerstone of the just transition we are calling for.”

The leaders of the unions involved in the campaign are arguing that acting on climate change will lead to an industrial revolution which will create new jobs for the millions of workers they represent.

A recent report from the International Renewable Energy Agency highlighted that 6.5 million people worldwide are employed in the clean energy industry, with solar PV being the main renewable sector of employment. The ITUC believe that with the right policy framework even more jobs could be created.

Pointing to its own research, the ITUC state that by taking action to mitigate climate change, 48 million new jobs could be created in just 12 countries.  In the last two years in Germany up to 400,000 new renewable energy jobs have been created, the union highlight. Similarly, data released by the American Solar Foundation, revealed that 23,682 new US solar jobs were added in 2013 giving a growth rate of 19.9% on the comparable figure for 2012.

The unions have said that they will use the new campaign to demand that governments strengthen their climate policies. In addition, Unions4Climate action will facilitate the development of coherent global strategy for delivering an industrial revolution and boosting employment.

 “The mission of the trade union movement to ensure jobs, rights and social equality requires that we embrace the cause of a just transition towards sustainable development – a transition that must start now”, Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the ITUC explained.

The trade unions are the latest cross-border body to voice their support for climate action. Just this week, the CEOs of over 60 leading insurance firms pledged their committment to principles relating to climate change risk.Similarly, health professionals, the Global Climate and Health Alliance (GCHA), used the publication of the IPCC AR5 report to argue that the risks to human health posed by the rise in temperature are now too serious to ignore.