Published on July 20, 2020

Climate change and labour: The need for a “just transition”

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Worldwide, trade unions have developed a point of view on the issue that is encapsulated by the concept of “Just Transition”, the notion that the transition process to a greener economy has to be inclusive of all stakeholders, and that the unavoidable employment and social costs of the transition have to be shared by all. Because one thing is sure: if the transition to a greener economy generates employment, it will also entail job losses for some.

It can be said that the notion of Just Transition is in line with the longstanding philosophy that has inspired the creation and the history of the International Labour Organization: the idea that social concerns have to be part and parcel of economic decision-making, that the costs of economic transition should be socialized as much as possible, and that the economic management of the economy is best achieved when there is genuine social dialogue between social partners. The last contribution to this issue documents how ILO standards can support the development of a Just Transition approach; it also opens an interesting window for a greater role for the ILO in defining the policies needed to deal with climate change.

We thus hope this issue will prove useful to trade unions and further stimulate discussions about how they can play a constructive role in the policy-making around the question of climate change.

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