UNISON takes the call for a just transition to COP28

NEC member Tony Wright explains what he’ll be doing in Dubai and why it’s vital that UNISON has a presence there

COP 28 logo

UNISON is taking the call for a just transition to this year’s UN climate change conference – better known as COP28, which opens on Thursday in Dubai, and continues until 12 December.

Tony Wright, NEC member and chair of the policy development and campaign committee, will be attending the first week of the conference. He will be acting as one of the two designated UK observers, as part of the International Trades Union Congress (ITUC) delegation.

As an official observer, his duties will include daily morning meetings to liaise with fellow trade union delegates from around the world and lobby the UK representatives – including MPs from all parties and government civil servants.

The role aims “to ensure the aims put forward by the ITUC and supported by UNISON are considered and adopted,” explains Mr Wright.

“I will also be providing regular updates to the TUC and UNISON back home so they can advise of any further action needed and lobby for change via domestic routes.”

Portrait of Tony Wright, NEC member and chair of the UNISON policy development and campaign committee

Tony Wright

For several years, UNISON has been building a focus on green issues and the climate. This has been done via the development of the green reps role, regular communications with the wider membership and focused activities across all four nations.

“In UNISON, we have a job to do – building on the work we have already done around greening public services. And, to do the best job we can, we need to be fully aware of the discussions which will shape future global policy,” says Mr Wright.

“I’m fully aware of what an honour it is to be attending COP28 on behalf of my union, UNISON, as part of the ITUC delegation. The ITUC represents over 200 million workers in 167 countries, so to be part of its delegation is a fantastic opportunity to learn and, hopefully, influence.

“The issues we will be discussing at COP28 are critical and if the people with the power to act don’t start doing something soon, it really will be too late to avoid major catastrophes. We could face even worse extreme weather than we have already experienced as well as mass migration,” he adds.

“As the largest union in the UK, it is vital that UNISON has a voice and a set of ears at the COP28 table.

“UNISON fights to protect our members terms and conditions but, while it doesn’t bear thinking about, there is no getting away from the fact that there are no jobs on a dead planet. That means we also need to fight for the future of everyone.”

At COP28, the trade unions will be demanding a labour-inclusive, just transition work programme. The priorities include guarantees on human and labour rights, inclusive participation, and providing the urgently needed climate finance to invest in a just transition.

Wider themes for the first week of COP28 include: health, recovery and peace, finance, trade, gender equality, urbanisation, transport, youth, children, education, nature, land use, oceans, food agriculture, and water.

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