During the coming months, the European Commission will focus more and more on climate change and the necessary changes within society associated with it. Important in the AK’s opinion is that all people will be positively affected within the framework of a so-called “just transition”. To achieve this, it is crucial not to lose sight of the social aspects of climate change.
The issue of “just transition” was also debated at the conference of the European Trade Union Institute, which took place on 10 September in Brussels. There also the EU Commission’s Report on Employment and Social Developments in Europe 2019 was presented and subsequently discussed. The event came to the conclusion that both the European Institutions and the Member States had always to bear in mind the target of “just transition” and to actively involve the population at all times. According to the Report by the EU Commission, the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights took first steps in the right direction; however, one had to make even greater use of it to promote the socially just transition to a climate-neutral Europe by 2050.
What is behind “just transition”?
Behind this concept hides the idea of linking the aim of achieving climate targets with high social standards for all. This concerns sustainability in all sectors: from economy via climate up to the working and living conditions of people. Already in its Reflection Paper on a Sustainable Europe, the European Commission had taken up the idea of a “just transition”. In its current Report on Employment and Social Developments in Europe 2019, which was at the centre of the event, the EU Commission analyses under the umbrella of sustainability how environmental, economic and social sustainability might interact and how this should look in future. Here too, “just transition” is mentioned as a key aspect.
Significant social effects of climate change in detail
According to current statistics of the EU Commission, there will not only be job losses in certain sectors, such as in parts of the energy industry and the automobile industry; in fact, new jobs will also be created. Here it is important to create a good transition to ensure that those, whose jobs have been lost, are retrained in good time and that they receive relevant funding and support. The participants in the following discussion agreed that it is important to create fairly paid jobs, to enable people leading a good life and to promote gender equality. At the same time, one has to ensure that no energy poverty is being created; hence, that the heating costs do not rise to such an extent that socially disadvantaged and middle class households are no longer able to afford them. The housing sector is also faced with the danger that urgently needed thermal renovations will be passed on to tenants. Here to it is vital to take precautions.
Instruments for sustainability
According to the report of the EU Commission, social, environmental and economic sustainability has to be ensured in particular via the European Semester and the European Pillar of Social Rights. In the AK’s opinion, the path towards a climate-neutral Europe by 2050 has to be designed in sight of social aspects within the framework of these two instruments. What is required in addition are investments, the establishment of backstops, the distribution of disadvantageous effects, good cooperation of the European level with national and regional governments and in particular the inclusion of the population. Only if people are involved accordingly, it can be ensured that any potential negative effects of the transition are detected and removed. The Report of the Commission also confirms that in countries with strong trade unions, fewer people are at risk of poverty and that this will also have positive effects during the imminent changes.