At the end of week one of the Conference of the Parties in Glasgow (COP26), Canada signed on to the Just Transition Declaration, along with 14 other countries, including the UK, USA, much of the EU, and New Zealand. The declaration cites the preamble from the Paris Agreement and the 2015 ILO Guidelines for Just Transition, and states that signatories recognize their role to ensure a transition 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. This should also display: a commitment to gender equality, racial equality and social cohesion; protection of the rights of Indigenous Peoples; disability inclusion; intergenerational equity and young people; the promotion of women and girls; marginalised persons’ leadership and involvement in decision-making; and recognition of the value of their knowledge and leadership; and support for the collective climate action of diverse social groups. Social dialogue as well as rights at work are indispensable building blocks of sustainable development and must be at the centre of policies for strong, sustainable, and inclusive growth and development.
We recognise that a just transition is not the replacement of one industry with another, but a diversification toward a more sustainable, resilient, and inclusive economy overall. Lastly, we recognise the importance of facilitating the transition from the informal to the formal economy, through social dialogue, to ensure that no one is left behind, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.
The Declaration provides more details about each of the objectives, and concludes with a statement that: “We intend to include information on Just Transition efforts, where relevant, in our national Biennial Transparency Reports in the context of reporting on our policies and measures to achieve our Nationally Determined Contributions.” The ILO, which played a key role in drafting the Declaration, released its own press release and summary here. Reaction from the International Trades Union Congress (ITUC) is here .
Note that much more was said about Just Transition at COP26 – much of it at side events or smaller panels. One example, the COP26 panel on Just Transition in the Steel and Energy Industry on November 8, available on YouTube here. This panel was the occasion for the launch of Preparing for a Just Transition: Meeting green skill needs for a sustainable steel industry, a report written by Community Union and researchers from the Cardiff University School of Sciences. The report provides an overview of decarbonization in the steel industry, but most importantly reports on the views of 100 steelworkers in the U.K., revealing that 92% feel a green transition is necessary, 78% feel it will bring a radical transformation to their industry, and 55% feel they already possess the skills necessary to make the transition. 79% had not been consulted by their employers, leading to a recommendation for more worker voice. The survey also delved into what skills would be needed.