EU and US Oppose Just Transition to Stop Climate Change

Instead, the EU and US want this language moved to the introduction of the document which has no legally binding authority.


It remains unclear as to why these countries are opposing language for a just transition. One possible reason is that language for a just transition in an international treaty could be viewed as harmful to “free’ trade. Since the EU and the US are two countries whose elites gain from free trade it is clear that the climate change delegations are listening to corporate interests rather than the interests of citizens and workers.


After more than three decades of “free” trade policies more than 54 countries have lower income than prior to the adoption of “free” trade policies. And income inequality in across both the US and the EU is on the rise.


Since both the EU and the US are engaged in promoting the next round of “free” trade agreements which are facing growing opposition in each of these countries it stands to reason that these countries would have trouble promoting a just transition which is counter to the outcomes delivered by “free” trade.


Both trade pacts currently under negotiation will continue to promote carbon emissions just as have past trade deals. The negotiations between the EU and the US and the US lead trade pact with numerous Asian countries will replicate the outcomes of prior trade agreements. In fact existing language in the Tran Pacific Partnership (TPP) would appear to put even modest environmental protections at risk.


The free trade agreements in the past have:


  • Disadvantaged local production vis-a-vis global MNC controlled production

  • Promoted rural population movement to already overcrowded urban areas in developing countries creating a host of social problems, acerbating migrant problems for both sending and receiving countries, and applying downward pressure on local and global wages.

  • Promoted production in countries with lower environmental protections and with higher carbon emitting energy sources.


The current trade pacts not only reinforce the above conditions but the conflict resolution appeals process in the TPP put carbon restrictions at risk if any company can document that they have been adversely harmed by national legislation.


“Simply moving industrial jobs from high wage countries to low wage countries does not promote either sustainable development or human development in any country”, said Per-Olof Sjöö, President of BWI . “To the contrary despite the fact that the more than 70% of industrial workers world wide are now located in the global south these countries have not be able to significantly reduce poverty, create a middle class, or reduce their carbon emissions”.


“Past trade treaties like those in North America and even WTO policies can send the wrong message to global business,” stated Ambet Yuson, General Secretary of BWI. He continued, “Instead of putting profits first it is time to place workers and their communities, and the health of the planet first. As long as we allow trade treaties to reward global capital to benefit from social degradation we can expect environmental degradation to continue. The two are inextricably linked and always have been.”


BWI released last Spring it’s climate report calling for:


  • trade policies and practices to be climate smart;

  • retro-fitting of building for energy efficiencies;

  • recycling of building materials and development of a circular economy;

  • designing and building commercial structures to use local building materials and skills;

  • forests to be certified as sustainably managed including their CoC’s; and

  • training for workers in forestry and construction so they know how to act in a sustainable manner on the job.


Please contact your climate delegation and ask them to support language in Paragraph 2 demanding a “just” transition to a climate smart low carbon economy.