International Seminar: Green Jobs and Just Transition

Event: Social Justice and Trade Unions

Between October 17th and 20th, trade unionists from different countries dedicated their stay in Beijing and Xining in Qinghai Province to the topic of Just Transition. An international delegation of trade unionists from affiliates of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and Chinese trade union officials as well as other experts discussed challenges and opportunities for trade unions in shaping the green transition in such a way that it will become a just transition that fosters green development, but also decent jobs.

The three day long program took place in Beijing as well as the Western Chinese province of Qinghai. On day one, a seminar was organized by the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU), the International Trade Unions Council (ITUC) as well as Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Beijing Office (FES).

During the seminar, the international trade unionists and trade unionists of ACFTU as well as experts from academic, party and research institutions discussed various subtopics such as the relations between climate change, investment and green finance; green jobs and decent work as well as challenges and opportunities and the role of trade unions in green transition.

The presentations and discussions touched upon a vast variety of problems, challenges and opportunities. Although those differ in the national contexts, several similarities were identified. One of the main findings of the seminar was the need to document good examples and best practices on national or local level and make them accessible to the public. Empirically speaking, there are many examples showing that the ecologically necessary green transition can be economically and socially viable as well. However, there is further need for trade union action in order to make sure that political decision-makers take workers’ interest into account in the process of designing and implementing green policies. There is also a further need for trade unions to train their members and raise the awareness on the relation between climate and jobs.

On day two the delegation and trade unionists from ACFTU visited Beijing Chaoyang Circular Economy Industrial Park, before taking off to Qinghai Province.

In Xining, the delegation held a meeting with representatives of the Qinghai Provincial Trade Union Federation in the morning of the third day of the program. Afterwards, the delegation visited Gonghe Photovoltaic Industrial Park. This is Chinas largest photovoltaic power plant and resembles about 5 percent of Chinas overall photovoltaic capacity.

The programme was the first of its kind in the cooperation between ACFTU, ITUC and FES. Just transition and its implications on trade unions certainly need a further intensification of exchange and joint efforts within the framework of international trade union cooperation.

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