ILO calls for stronger linkages between labour and climate agendas

Delegates from over 190 nations met in Lima, Peru, for two-week talks to prepare the road towards a new global climate change agreement for adoption at the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) next year in Paris.

Noticia | 18 de diciembre de 2014
The Lima Conference had two main objectives: (i) agree on the information to be provided by countries on national plans on climate action under the so-called intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) – the building blocks of the climate agreement at the COP21; (ii) and set the foundation for a negotiating text, which will be discussed throughout 2015 for the final global agreement by the end of the year in Paris.

The seven-page text agreed in Lima, dubbed the Lima call for climate action, reconfirms the shift of approach in climate negotiations introduced last year with the Warsaw decisions at the COP19 of a bottom-up approach, whereby countries themselves assess and propose their own actions to address climate change. Discussions at Lima also reaffirmed the commitment to the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities” both for the agreement in 2015 and the INDCs, in order to allow sufficient flexibility among countries to reflect differences in terms of their respective capabilities. In this regard, Parties are invited to inform how they consider their contributions are “fair and ambitious” in light of national circumstances. A step forward, the text invites Parties to consider including a component on adaptation in their INDCs, a matter that has been divisive in the negotiations, as some countries preferred focusing solely on mitigation.

All countries, UN organizations, and civil society organizations that gathered in Lima, including workers and employers, agreed on the urgency of taking action and recognised the opportunity to avoid unmanageable impacts of climate change is quickly closing as indicated by the latest scientific evidence from 5th Assessment Report of the IPCC.

Climate change is already seriously affecting labour markets, and will significantly impact the world work, in diverse directions, from job losses, to productivity impacts, new opportunities for green job creation and additional incomes generation.

As climate negotiators were still meeting in Lima, Typhoon Hagupit hit the Philippines, affecting around 800,000 workers, with their source of livelihood damaged or disrupted overnight. The ILO responded with an offer to allocate US$1.5 million and to support the government through emergency employment and sustainable livelihood (see link for further information). Similar extreme weather events are only expected to intensify in the future with major consequences on workers, businesses and communities.

The ILO’s means of action, including through social protection schemes, skills building and upgrading, employment-intensive and public work programmes, support to climate-induced migrant workers and tripartite social dialogue, can make significant contributions to climate change solutions on mitigation, adaptation, and capacity building.

Despite the very clear evidence of the strong linkages between climate change and the world of work, there is still a lack of recognition and reference made to these links in the current climate negotiating text. This fails to reflect increasing commitment made by ILO constituents to tackle climate change and its consequences for the world of work, as acknowledged by the conclusions of the International Labour Conference 2013 discussions on "sustainable development, decent work and green jobs". Workers, employers and governments identified the need to address climate change and facilitate a just transition towards a low-carbon economy for the creation of decent work for all.

The future climate regime cannot miss the opportunity to both recognize and support the crucial role of the world of work. Given the scale and urgency of the climate and decent work challenges, tackling them jointly is not an option, but a necessity to not only create new jobs but also save existing ones.

Climate negotiators will be meeting next under the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action, the body tasked with negotiating the new climate deal, on February 8-13, 2015 in Geneva, and the ILO stands ready to further engage in the process towards Paris.

The accord to be agreed in Paris will enter into force by 2020 with the global objective to reduce CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions to a safe level and thus hold the increase in global average temperature below 2°C or 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.