Trade Unions at COP 17
Promoting Solutions to the Climate Crisis that are Democratic, Equitable and Effective
Unions from all over the world gathered in Durban for the UN's 17th annual "Conference of the Parties" (COP 17) under the Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). They were greeted by trade unionists from South Africa who showed their support for a bold climate protection agenda that offers real solutions to both the climate crisis and the economic crisis. However, the meeting in Durban took place at a time when leaders of the rich countries had previously indicated that there will be no global climate agreement in effect until 2020.
The International Trade Union Confederation issued a statement on November 23 that urged governments in Durban to "step out of their comfort zones and take decisions to extend the Kyoto Protocol, deliver a mandate to negotiate a comprehensive legally binding instrument for all countries, and fund the US$100 billion Green Climate Fund." ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow said, "The financial crisis must not be used as an excuse for inaction on climate change. Workers, in decent jobs, in green jobs, will help drive many countries out of the financial crisis and tackle climate change."
Fatih Birol, chief economist at the International Energy Agency (IEA), and one of the world's foremost authorities on climate economics, told the Guardian: "If we do not have an international agreement whose effect is put in place by 2017, then the door to [holding temperatures below 2C] will be closed forever." Lord Stern, author of a landmark review of the economics of climate change, said "This is a collective failure, and [leaving agreement to] 2020 is taking considerable risks with the planet."
Unions have for years worked diligently to help bring about a fair, ambitious and binding global climate agreement to succeed the Kyoto Protocol, with the principles of ‘just transition' and decent work at its core. But the UN process is facing its biggest crisis ever.
Unions and other social movements understand that new strategies and approaches are needed, and that it is time to develop bold proposals and solutions that can address both the climate crisis and the economic crisis simultaneously. GLI reported on these discussions throughout COP 17.
View the Cornell GLI's Photo Gallery from COP 17.
Trade Union Events at COP 17
View the GLI's Trade Union Calendar for COP 17
World of Work (WoW) Pavilion Conference
November 29 - December 6
International Climate Jobs Conference
Research, Articles and Reports for COP 17
Cornell GLI Articles for the COP
Pipe Dreams: Jobs Gained, Jobs Lost be the Construction of Keystone XL (pdf)
Durban Challenge: How Labor Unions Can Help Secure a Global Binding Agreement in 2011
Transport Workers and Climate Change: Towards Sustainable, Low- Carbon Mobility (pdf)
Cornell GLI's Report from COP 16 (pdf)
Other Recommended COP 17 Documents
ITUC Contribution for COP 17 (pdf)
ITUC Statement on Climate Change (pdf)
Canadian Labour Congress Statement to COP 17 (pdf)
COSATU's policy statement on climate change (pdf)
One Million Climate Jobs Pamphlet (pdf)
One Million Climate Jobs- South Africa (pdf)
SATAWU and Transport Climate Jobs- Powerpoint