Africa Trade Unions at COP23

Keywords : Activities Climate Change And Environment Declarations

From mudslides in Sierra Leone, to floods in parts of West Africa, to huge droughts caused by El Niño in parts of Southern Africa; Africa is no doubt vulnerable to the daunting effects of climate change.

November 13

The impacts of this phenomenon are not only environmental, but also have huge socio-economic bearings on developing countries.

Workers and the most vulnerable in society are most at risk.

In 2015, countries jubilated at the adoption of the historic Paris Agreement at COP21.

Trade Unions specifically applauded the integration of the concept of Just Transition into the Agreement - finally a Global Agreement that takes into account the vulnerabilities of workers and communities!

Two years on, the road towards defining the modalities to the effective implementation of the Paris Agreement at Global level are yet to be concretized.
According to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), 163 parties have submitted their first Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). Nonetheless, the question for most is whether the targets submitted by member states are adequate to reach the objective of reducing global emissions well below 2 degrees?

For developing countries, issues such as adaptation and mitigating the effects of Climate Change; financing and technology transfer; questions around transparency and particularly support from industrialized countries to vulnerable countries in the transitioning process are some of the fundamental questions that remain unclear.
For Trade Unions and workers, more specific issues around the creation of decent work in new sectors, reskilling workers in sectors likely to phase out in the transition to a low carbon economy, sound investment and importantly ensuring effective social dialogue processes as well as citizen participation in transitioning processes characterize a Just Transition and is essentially the proposed pathway to a zero-carbon economy.

With these in view and within the broader climate discussions at COP23, trade unions have three demands for governments to deliver a successful climate change conference:

  1. · Raise ambition and realize the job-creation potential of climate action,
  2. · Deliver on climate finance and support the most vulnerable,
  3. · Commit to securing a just transition for workers and their communities.

Trade Unions are hopeful that COP23 will realize the urgent goal of achieving higher and faster ambitions whiles meeting the overall objective of developing clear guidelines on how to achieve specific provisions of the Paris Agreement on issues such as transparency, adaptation, emission reductions, provision of finance, capacity building and technology transfer to vulnerable countries among other provisions.

Approximately 20 000 delegates including Heads of States, Ministers of Environment and Energy as well as observer groups comprising non-governmental organizations are meeting in Bonn, Germany from 6 - 17 November to ensure that clear guidelines are finalized by COP24 which is scheduled to hold in Poland in 2018.

COP23 is being hosted by Fiji, under the presidency of the Prime Minister, Frank Bainimarama. The Summit is being held in Germany for practical reasons.

by Rhoda Boateng

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