Governments at the UN Climate Summit agree on a Just Transition Declaration

Anna Triponel

November 1, 2021
Our key takeaway: Governments in Glasgow have recognised the importance of a just transition, and commit to working with relevant international organisations to implement just principles across their international financial and technical assistance programmes when supporting developing and emerging economies.

At the UN Climate Summit in Glasgow (COP26), over 30 countries signed the Just Transition Declaration developed by the COP26 Energy Transition Council. Signatories are the United States, United Kingdom, all 27 EU member states, Norway, Canada and New Zealand:

  • Commitment to “sustainable, green and inclusive economic growth”: the governments commit to “deliver[ing] sustainable, green and inclusive economic growth to meet the challenge of decarbonising our economies, in line with limiting the global average temperature increase to 1.5°C above the preindustrial levels.” The governments “recognise [their] role in working to ensure that no one is left behind in the transition to a net zero and climate resilient future.” The declaration refers back to core documents. The Paris Agreement preamble, which “reflects the close links between climate action, sustainable development, and a just transition.” The International Labour Organization’s (ILO) 2015 Guidelines for a Just Transition, which “established a global understanding for the term ‘just transition’”. As well as commitments to a just transition set out in the Silesia Declaration in Poland and the Climate Action for Jobs Initiative.
  • Range of themes included in just transition: the governments recognise that “the effects of climate change disproportionately affect those in poverty, and can exacerbate economic, gender and other social inequalities, including those resulting from discriminatory practices based upon race and ethnicity; the transition towards net zero will affect, most acutely, those in workforces in sectors, cities and regions relying on carbon-intensive industries and production.” The signatories specifically call out the importance of “climate change mitigation and adaptation action that is fully inclusive and benefits the most vulnerable through the more equitable distribution of resources, enhanced economic and political empowerment, improved health and wellbeing, resilience to shocks and disasters and access to skills development and employment opportunities.” They reference the need to ensure that all countries “benefit from the opportunities offered by sustainable and just transitions. This should include access to modern technologies, capacity building and finance, as well as policy solutions to manage transitions in a just and inclusive way.” They call out the importance of facilitating the transition from the informal to the formal economy, through social dialogue.
  • Financial and technical assistance programmes to support a just transition: the signatories commit to working with relevant international organisations, including the ILO and others, to implement certain principles across their international financial and technical assistance programmes when supporting developing and emerging economies. First, support workers, communities and regions that are particularly vulnerable to the effects of the move away from carbon-intensive economies. Second, support and promote social dialogue and engagement between governments, employers’ and workers’ representatives, and other groups affected by the transition to green economies. Third, implement economic strategies that support clean energy, foster resource-efficient economic growth, create income and decent jobs, and reduce poverty and inequality. Fourth, create decent jobs for people in their local areas, coupled with reskilling and training, and social protection for those in need. Fifth, ensure that existing and new supply chains create decent work for all, including the most marginalized, with respect for human rights. The signatories specifically urge companies to conduct “corporate due diligence in line with the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the ILO’s Tripartite Declaration of Principles concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy.”

For more, see UK COP26, Supporting the Conditions for a Just Transition Internationally (November 2021)

See also ILO, ILO welcomes COP26 Just Transition Declaration (November 2021)

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