Labor groups push for ‘just transition’ in March for Climate Justice

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Echoing the view of global trade unions that a shift to lower carbon economy is not just necessary but inevitable to address the worsening climate crisis, the coalition of labor groups Nagkaisa marched with multisectoral groups in the March for Climate Justice held in Quezon City this morning.

The group denounces corporate greed for spawning both a humanitarian and environmental crisis as manifested in the intensification of exploitative working conditions and the acceleration of climate change.

“When corporations rule under the framework of unlimited greed, workers endure the worst kind of exploitation. And when climate crisis worsened as tons of carbon are emitted into the atmosphere by oil and energy companies, mining and other hard industries, everyone suffers the brunt most particularly the poor people living in most vulnerable countries like the Philippines,” said Nagkaisa in a statement.

The group pointed out that while the country is less in carbon emission, her position of vulnerability can generate a powerful voice for demanding climate justice during negotiations.

“Unfortunately our government tailgated weakly behind the US position of simply having Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) process instead of playing hardball in pressing a return to binding cuts based on science and common but differential responsibility and which will limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius,” lamented Nagkaisa.

The group said that even with INDC process and actual submissions, the UNEP still anticipates a 4-6 degrees Celsius, rendering the COP ineffective.

Workers were also apprehensive of the fact that while governments are active in climate negotiations, the next one in Paris next week, most of them didn’t have a clear framework on how to fine-tune this transition to lower carbon economy in a manner acceptable to the people.

Nagkaisa is pushing the framework for a ‘just transition’ which promotes social justice and employment, requires active government intervention, and demands proportionate responsibility from all stakeholders, including business.

“The Philippines, for instance, has not explicitly declared a timeline to when fossil-fuelled power plants are finally phased out so that the transition is clearly plotted in favour of renewable energy and the creation of climate jobs,” the group said.

The coalition believes further that thousands of climate jobs can be created in the country in the shift to renewable energy, disaster response and building climate resilient communities that includes resettlement in climate-proof buildings and housing projects, as well as the greening of mass transport system.

“Funding is main requirement for this shift. In climate negotiations, the rich industrial nations must be made responsible in funding the transition of most vulnerable nations,” the group added.

Meanwhile, Nagkaisa said transition policies should not, in any way, transgress into the framework of decent work since regular job and social security help build the resiliency of many people against the wrath of Mother Nature.

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