In cooperation with the Coastal Development Partnership from Bangladesh, the International Trade Union Confederation and Bread for the World, the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung organized an event as part of the UNFCCC intercessional revolving around the subject of 'Ensuring a Just Transition for All'.
The gathering took place in the World Conference Center in Bonn, Germany, and formed a segment of the Climate Change Conference that is hosted under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change that lasts until the 10th of May.
During the event, the question was raised how we can make sure that a transition process like the energy transition is just for everybody. The audience had an opportunity to listen to: Manuela Matthess (FES), Bert de Wel (Just Transition Center), Sebastien Storme (Fédération générale du travail de Belgique), Hitoshi Suzuki (RENGO Japan), Joachim Fünfgelt (Bread for the World) and Jahangir Hasan Masum (Coastal Development Partnership).
Just Transition is a framework that has been developed to encompass a range of social interventions needed to secure workers' jobs and livelihoods when economies are shifting to sustainable production, including avoiding climate change or protecting biodiversity.
As the concept has been anchored within the framework of international climate negotiations nowadays, it has become important to talk about its implementation. The session in Bonn was set up to learn more about the experiences of two Global North countries, Belgium and Japan, and a Global South country, Bangladesh.
Sebastien Storme gave us a sneak-peek into the pillars of Just Transition in Belgium, and how they have been implemented in practice. The Belgians have been very successful in involving interested parties in a social dialogue, in encouraging circular economy within the context of sustainable development and in giving their workers needed trainings, toolkits, technical sheets, newsletters and colloquiums. Securing decent jobs in a “greener” world for its citizens has been the guiding principle for the just transition in Belgium. Storme concluded his presentation emphasizing the exigency to include both labor and employment aspects within Nationally Determined Contribution documents (NDCs).
Jahangir Hasan Masum informed us about the situation in his homecountry, Bangladesh, especially in the field of energy transition. Even though natural gas supplies meet 56% of domestic energy demand, the country faces an acute energy crisis in meeting the demands of its vast and growing population. Its dependency on fossil fuels has to be ended in any case, in order for Bangladeshis to not further contribute to climate change. Masum said: “Bangladesh needs to redesign its energy system.” Not everything is as dark as it seems, however, and we got presented one green and one bright practice from this South Asian state - every building that has more than ten floors has to have solar panels on its rooftop by law, providing 3% of its residents’ used electricity. Secondly, conventional light is being replaced by more energy efficient LED on a country-wide scale. This shows that sustainable progress is possible and that the energy transformation can bring many chances for a country’s development.
Masum’s presentation was followed by a presentation from his colleague from Japan, Hitoshi Suzuki, who also offered an energy overview of his country. Although it is one of the world’s most energy efficient states, Japan has some obstacles in front of itself. It is challenged by the decline of energy self-sufficiency, but it plans to play a big role in fighting global warming: by 2030, Japan wants to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 26%, and it hopes to be carbon neutral by 2050. Could Carbon Capture and Storage technology help it achieving its goals? Participants of the event expressed suspicion during the discussions towards this technological intervention as it could have unwanted, dangerous consequences. What for sure could help Japan’s mission is renewables. At the moment, they supply 21% of Japan’s energy demand. The other sources Japanese are exploiting are, in chronological order, natural gas, coal, nuclear power, hydro-energy and oil.
Joachim Fünfgelt from Bread for the World presented the case study on guiding principles and lessons learned from 12 Global South countries and their progress on a just transition. His presentation was based on a joint study by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) and Bread for the World that aimed at defining what justice means in the context of an energy transition and what hooks and anchoring points exist in implementing it. Their focus was clearly on the countries of the Global South that face many different challenges. Researchers analyzed three aspects of just transition - climate, socio-economic and political. Their work provides an overview of the different national discourses on just transition, energy transformation and climate justice of the previous years and how they are ultimately reflected in the Paris Agreement.
In the end, everyone has agreed that now is the time to hoist a flag of Just Transition. Let’s do it together! It is not just if we keep it at half-staff.
Jelena Kozbasic is a young environmental journalist working for the only environmental news site of the country. She works as a full-time journalist while also pursuing a master in eco-politics. She is "obsessed with journalism" and is actively promoting better environmental regulations in her country.
To strengthen climate journalism around the globe, the FES Media Fellowship cooperates with Climate Tracker and supports two young journalists, Jelena Kozbasic from Serbia and Ahmad Hamour from Jordan, who participate in this program. They receive a climate media training, report from the UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn and take part in FES events as well.