STATEMENT BY THE GENERAL CONFEDERATION OF TRADE UNIONS in connection with the forthcoming UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen

Monday, November 23, 2009
The UN Climate Change Conference opens in the Danish capital Copenhagen 7 December 2009.
The global warming, the pollution of the atmosphere with harmful emissions coming primarily from manufacturing, the growing danger of man-made accidents and disasters, the shrinking reserves of drinking water, the expanding deserts and ever-frost zones unfit for usage by human beings, the destruction of the ozone layer - all these and other challenges endanger seriously human life on this planet, and, therefore, common and coordinated approaches will be needed to address them.
Previous efforts to find successful solutions to these problems, including the Kyoto Protocol on environment protection, have not produced the expected results, as some states have failed to comply with it, and in this way kept back from the struggle waged by the world community to stop global ecological hazards. The world economic and financial crisis has only aggravated the situation. The plans to build a green (i.e. ecologically clean) economy and to shift at least part of manufacturing to alternative renewable energy and low-carbon technologies have run into the lack of funding and been frozen or shelved.
The problem of climate change and environment degradation has a strong social dimension. Improvement of the ecological situation goes hand in hand with raising the workers’ living standards and the quality of their work environment. For example, estimates suggest that transition to a green economy would generate a sizeable number of new jobs. It is not by accident that ILO Convention No. 148 on the protection of workers against occupational risks caused by air pollution, noise and vibration (ratified by only five CIS countries) is entitled the Working Environment Convention. We call on the parliaments of CIS states to ratify this convention, and on the trade union movement of such countries to urge their authorities to do so.
In this light, it is logical that the global unions, as well as the entire world trade union movement and the GCTU as part of it, demand the right to participate in the discussion and realisation of ecological decisions, including those that will be taken at Copenhagen. The GCTU confirms its readiness to contribute to the common efforts being made by the world’s trade unions to enhance ecological security. We regard the struggle for a healthy environment as a crucial task for trade unions, as an integral part of their drive for decent work. The Confederation has been involved in the development by the CIS Inter-Parliamentary Assembly of model and recommendatory legal acts concerning nature conservation and ecological security. We subscribe to the position of the International Trade Union Confederation as it insists that the decisions to be taken by the Copenhagen climate change summit should be of a comprehensive nature, binding for all countries, and based on the principle of social justice.
The General Confederation of Trade Unions extends its sincere wishes of success to the UN Climate Change Conference. We hope participants will successfully reach common understanding as to what measures must be taken at national and global levels to speed up a radical improvement of the world ecological situation and, thereby, of the working conditions for hundreds of millions of workers in all countries.
General Confederation of Trade Unions
Moscow, 23 November 2009