European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC)

Agreement on Climate Change: we need a Social and industrial strategy

One of the main topics that will appear on the agenda for the European Council on 29 and 30 October will be the funding of climate measures with an eye to the Copenhagen Summit. The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) believes that climate change can and must serve as a driver for sustainable growth and social progress.
As ETUC Confederal Secretary Joël Decaillon puts it: ’ The decisions taken at this European Council and later at the Copenhagen Summit will be key moments in judging whether Europe and the world have the will to undertake the necessary changes both to protect the climate and to bolster social cohesion’.

In a letter to the heads of State and of government, the ETUC has set out its positions and proposals. These latter have been the subject of a recent study by the European trade union movement: ‘Climate chaos, the new industrial policies and ways out of the crisis’. The ETUC calls upon Europe’s decision-makers to deliver:

  • A binding, ambitious agreement to limit the global rise in temperatures to a maximum of 2 °.
  • A greater European contribution towards the funding of the global reduction in climate change, specifically in the developing countries.
  • An ambitious European recovery, by means of enhanced Community policies on industry and research, taking account of economic and industrial diversity, in particular in the case of the new entrant countries.

It is essential, too, to implement a low-carbon European industrial strategy, based on a dynamic of Community industrial coordination. Such a European strategy will need to be rooted in principles of Just Transition: a dialogue between governments, industry and trade unions, and between other interest groups, decent green jobs, investments in low-carbon technologies, and new green qualifications.

Joël Decaillon added: ‘ We demand green growth that will help to maintain and create quality jobs and contribute towards social progress across the whole economy. We need to ensure that a much stronger social dimension is incorporated into European policies contributing to the development of industrial strategies. We can no longer afford to skirt around the issue: this is an emergency and we must act now. That is why the decisions at this Council and beyond that, at the Copenhagen Summit, must contribute towards this major transformation of our societies and towards peace’.

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