The ILO engages in climate change at Lima Conference and beyond

The ILO participates actively in the climate change negotiations at the Conference of the Parties (COP 20) under the United Nation Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), taking place in Lima, Peru, from 1 December to 12 December 2014.

News | Lima | 01 December 2014
The twentieth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP20) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is taking place in Lima on 1-12 December 2014 – an important milestone in crafting a future global agreement on climate change. At the COP20, negotiators are expected to: (i) advance work on the elaboration of elements of the 2015 climate agreement; (ii) agree on a draft decision identifying the information that Parties will provide when putting forward their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs); and (iii) consolidate the negotiations process towards and beyond 2020. All of this should pave the way for the Paris COP21, where in December 2015 Parties are expected to adopt “a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force under the Convention applicable to all Parties”.

Meanwhile, the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published on 1st November 2014 provided a final warning that if temperature rise is to be limited to 2°C – a target acknowledged in 2009 of dangerous climate change and at manageable costs – emissions should drop markedly by 40% to 70% globally between 2010 and 2050, and fall to zero by 2100. This implies that fossil fuels will have to be significantly scaled back in the coming decades, while clean energy and energy efficiency will need to greatly increase.

ILO's key messages at Lima

The ILO is calling for the next global climate agreement to include a clear acknowledgement by Parties on the strong linkages between climate change and actions to combat climate change with the world of work. Policies and measures proven to be valuable to protect jobs from climate impacts and promote decent work creation in low-carbon and climate resilient sectors should form part of the climate solution. At the upcoming COP, the ILO will reiterate the importance of promoting decent work through climate change mitigation and adaptation measures by highlighting the following:
  • Social protection policies should be integral to climate change adaptation strategies. Innovations in Public Employment Programmes to create green works in water management, forestry and other infrastructure-related works have demonstrated to be efficient in promoting climate resilient development, but also essential in providing employment and additional income opportunities to those most affected and vulnerable to the impacts of climate change (see publication "Local investments for climate change adaptation: Green jobs through green works"). Countries such as South Africa (“Working For” programmes), Ethiopia (Productive Safety Net Programme) or India (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) have illustrated the key role such programmes can play as part of social protection floors and how they can assist exposed populations to cope with the impacts of climate change and to adapt successfully. Moreover, access to micro-insurance programmes for farmers and other workers active in highly climate dependent sectors have helped increase incomes, climate resilience and avoided job losses.
  • The identification of employment impacts through green jobs assessments of low carbon and climate resilient policies could support the formulation of INDCs. These employment assessments facilitate decision-making to prioritize economic activities with greater labour impacts and better climate results. Indeed, given that assessments can generate information on employment and labour market implications of climate response measures, they thereby offer an important means to help shape policy-making.
  • Skills provision and training should be key elements of mitigation policies as well as technology transfer measures. Skill shortages in a number of low carbon sectors have been identified as major bottlenecks to the transition to low-carbon economies, which explains why many countries such as China, USA, South Africa and the EU are actively working on the identification of new skill needs linked to green sectors and are developing specific skills provision plans. 

ILO’s participation during the COP20

The ILO is organizing together with other UN Agencies two side events as part of a one UN approach in policy and delivery to climate change. (See list of UN System side events and One UN Exhibit at the COP20). 

The first event “Sustainable production and consumption systems: Efficiency, reducing losses and drivers of change” on the 5th of December will address the issue of sustainable consumption and production patterns from different points of view: food security, decent work and green jobs creation and poverty eradication. The ILO will focus on the employment impact of sustainable production by presenting tools available, successful experiences and lessons learned of transitions towards more sustainable production processes. The second event “Climate Change Adaptation, Resilience and Human Mobility: Voices from the Climate Frontlines” on the 11th of December, likewise organized under a consortium of UN agencies, will enable the ILO to address the issue of labour migration and more specifically the creation of decent work conditions in construction and food production sectors in areas most impacted by migration due to climatic changes.

In addition, the ILO is organizing two more events at the EU Pavilion. The first event taking place on the 2nd of December will offer a platform for dialogue between policy-makers and social partners about how employment is being affected by climate change and specific proposals on ways to mainstream labour issues into climate action. The second event taking place on the 12th of December, organized in collaboration with the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and Italy, in its role of EU Presidency, will present linkages between the physical impacts of climate change and response measures, on the one hand, and employment, on the other, with a particular focus on mechanisms to ensure that social partners, workers and employers, are granted a voice in decision-making and implementation processes. The outcomes and conclusion of the recent Conference on "Green Growth and Employment" organized by Italy as EU-presidency will also be presented.

Finally, the ILO will actively participate in side events organized under the Partnership for Action on Green Economy (PAGE) in collaboration with the Peruvian Ministry of Environment, with a view to present the National Green Growth Strategy and proposals by civil society and other actors on climate action and social development around the five priority areas of the Peruvian climate agenda: forestry, mountains, water, oceans, energy and sustainable cities.