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TLI co-hosts UN climate conference panel discussions

Posted on 23/11/2017

At this year’s United Nations climate change conference in Bonn, Germany, the Transnational Law Institute partnered with institutions from Brussels and Paris to highlight the need for social justice in the development of international and European climate law. Across two public events at the 23rd Conference of Parties (COP23) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the TLI and partners investigated the prospects for a ‘just transition’ to a clean energy future that respects labour and human rights. The annual COP meeting is the key venue for the international community to set the course of activity under the Climate Convention and, since 2016, the Paris Agreement.

8 November

On 8 November, the TLI cohosted a panel discussion on ‘just transition to a low-carbon economy’ with the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), Fondation Jean Jaurès and the Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS) at the EU Pavilion at the climate summit.

The discussion was opened by the President of the EESC, Georges Dassis, who gave a powerful speech calling for ambitious climate action that provide positive outcomes for communities and workers. Cillian Lohan, EESC Rapporteur on Climate Justice, presented the EESC’s recently issued opinion on climate justice, which calls for sustainable ethical alternatives for consumers and the identification of opportunities to protect workers whose jobs are displaced by the clean energy transition. Agnès Michelot of French Economic, Social and Environmental Council spoke about the challenges and prospects of climate justice in France and Europe, emphasizing in particular the importance of research in developing solutions.

Also on the panel, Anne-Beth Skrede, Adviser on Environment, Climate and Sustainable Development with the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions, outlined the union movement’s priorities at the conference. Stephen Minas, Assistant Professor at the School of Transnational Law, Peking University and Senior Research Fellow at TLI, discussed the social elements of the EU's Energy Union framework. Emily Hickson, Manager, Net Zero by 2050 at the B-Team, discussed the business community's engagement with unions and civil society in scaling up climate action. Finally, Mart Raamat, representing the current Estonian presidency of the EU, commented on how the just transition agenda aligns with the presidency's priorities.

15 November

On 15 November, the TLI again partnered with Fondation Jean Jaurès and FEPS to host a panel discussion on the topic of ‘a just transition, economic diversification and the forum on response measures to climate change’. This event examined opportunities for progress and synergy on the UNFCCCC response measures work programme items of just transition and economic diversification, both through the improved forum on response measures and through complementary regional and national processes. The session included an update on work under the UNFCCC by William Kojo Agymang-Bonsu from the UN Climate Secretariat, the presentation of national approaches by Peter Govindasamy from the Singapore delegation and Steven Turnbull from the Australia delegation, and perspectives from civil society from Nick Mabey from E3G and Anabella Rosemberg from the International Trade Union Confederation.

Both events featured lively engagement from audiences of party delegates, civil society representatives and researchers. Stephen Minas, who co-organized the events for the TLI, commented that ‘the response to climate change must have a social dimension, and this must be reflected in the work under the Climate Convention. By bringing together national governments, unions and employers, we can advance the social dialogue on how to achieve just outcomes for workers affected by the economic transition, as well as how to create the jobs of the future low-emissions economy’.

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