Climate change

The adaptation to climate change and the world of work

News | 09 September 2020
The ILO participated in an online conference on the ‘Adaptation to climate change and the world of work’, hosted by the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC). At this occasion, the ETUC presented its Guide for trade unions on the Adaptation to climate change and the world of work, which provides a set of recommendations to allow trade unions to take action.

Lene Olsen, Senior Programme and Operations Specialist at the ILO Bureau for Workers’ activities (ACTRAV), explained that the recommendations made by ETUC are much aligned with the ILO Guidelines for a just transition towards environmentally sustainable economies and societies for all.

The ILO Guidelines state that sustainable development is only possible with the active engagement of the world of work. Governments, employers and workers are not passive bystanders, but rather agents of change. Ms Olsen highlighted in particular the need for these actors to work together. “We need to have a vision on paper, which is acted upon by all. No single organization or sector has the knowledge or resources to address climate change alone.”

“The collaboration on climate change between governments, workers’ and employers’ organizations, together with other stakeholders, is the foundation for sustainable change at all levels: they will have to transform measures into reality,” she said.

The ILO estimates that a just transition to a green economy could create 24 million new jobs globally, including 2 million jobs in Europe.

At the conference, the ILO underlined the need for strong and stable social dialogue, and for raising awareness of the issues at stake, including at the workplace level (e.g. by organizing targeted awareness raising campaigns).

The Climate Action for Jobs Initiative, which resulted from the 2019 UN Climate Action Summit, is designed to enable ambitious climate goals with decent jobs and social justice for all. The ILO looks forward to working closely with its trade union constituents and other partners to spearhead its implementation.

Ms Olsen also highlighted that new legislative initiatives are needed to protect workers from the negative effects of climate change. “The body of International Labour Standards can guide this work and new Standards can be developed,” she concluded.