2022 Lisbon Declaration on Climate Jobs and Just Transition

By Global Climate Jobs

The climate is changing. Increases in average temperatures and disruptions to local climates are resulting in extreme weather events and ecological catastrophes. As a consequence, the livelihoods, identities, and cultures of people are threatened and are already being destroyed. These impacts are inherently unjust as the regions and communities with the least historical responsibility for GHG emissions are the ones most affected and often the ones least listened to.

Science has told us that we need to drastically reduce emissions within a relatively short timeframe if we wish to avoid climate collapse. In order to do this, we need to create millions of new jobs that aim to cut greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants. This will facilitate a fast transition away from ecologically destructive industries while also being fair to those who contribute to, or would be affected, by this transition.

Within this challenge are the opportunities of creating new emission-cutting jobs that are dignified, with fair wages, while respecting environmental, health, hygiene and safety rules. We refer to these as Climate Jobs. These must be in renewable energies, public transportation systems, building and infrastructure energy efficiency, forest protection, waste management, professional training and re-qualification, and agriculture that respects the natural cycles of our global and local ecosystems. Large amounts of funding will have to be mobilized, carrying out actions without the need to maximize profits, but rather guaranteeing direct and immediate jobs to workers that will lose their old jobs due to the transition. These have to be public jobs, created in the optic of public service, to ensure they are stable to the workers and beneficial to all of society.

Governments, international institutions and the “invisible hand of the market” have failed in their responses to the climate crisis. Nevertheless, we know that historically the biggest developments in democracy, social rights, and access to public services, such as healthcare and education, have been gained due to the organized struggles of the working class. This was so because the workers if organized and united through their different oppressions of class, race, gender expression and sexuality, have massive power.

Similarly, stopping climate change can’t be done without a massive popular movement. Indigenous people have been fighting against the destruction brought upon by multinational corporations that have been ensuring climate and ecological catastrophe. Recently we have seen the strengthening and internationalization of a climate movement that has been demanding climate justice all around the world. This movement is seeking to unite workers everywhere to ensure a just transition.

Such a transition will have to also involve sectors of work that capital considers non-productive. Any kind of organizing for Climate Jobs campaigns will have to involve, organize, and mobilize workers doing care work, which are mainly women and racialized persons. Reproductive labour is very often made invisible and left out of the labour movement, even though these workers – that ensure the pillars of the capitalist system – are the most marginalized and thus the most fragile of the working class. This transition has to change the path of our economy from a profit-extracting march of death to an economy with life at its centre. In the process, this builds a new system that cares for both people and planet, that values indigenous and peasant knowledge, and respects nature and its cycles.

Workers have been left out of the discussions on how to carry this transformation. Attempts to transition so far have occurred without considering workers interests, rights and demands, while at the same time has not resulted in an actual decrease in global greenhouse gas emissions or in an improvement of local ecological conditions. On the contrary, any plan that aims to solve the climate crisis should not be dictated by the needs of companies but instead by the needs of both workers and life on Earth. A Just Transition plan needs to specially include workers and communities affected by the climate crisis and/or by the transition, so it can result in the improvement of living conditions everywhere. It should never result in an increase of exploitation or extractivism, but on the contrary, should be built upon international solidarity, with the goals of peace and democracy at its core.

The points of convergence between the workers and the climate justice movements are immense. As so, we call for environmental and climate justice organizations, workers’ movements and unions, as well as other civil society groups, to come together to create and raise support for Climate Jobs campaigns. Multiple international campaigns would shift the global conversation about Just Transition, rescuing it from the hands of profit, and would mobilize workers and the climate justice movement everywhere – and in this process creates a future for all.

This declaration was signed by:

Victoria Mora (Costa Rica)
António Assunção (Portugal)
Cristiano Mourato (Portugal)
Gil Hortal (Spanish State)
Noemi Mondon (France)
Ayisha Siddiga (Pakistan)
Margarida Vale de Gato (Portugal)
Clara Cuéllar dos Santos (Portugal)
Ismael Benhrama (Germany)
Rebeca Paiva (Portugal)
Daniel Borges (Portugal)
Leonor Canadas (Portugal)
Oscar Mooney (Ireland)
Cigdem Ozbas (Turkey)
Diego Azzi (Brazil)
Gonçalo Paulo (Portugal)
Chris Baugh (United kingdom)
Liv Straat (Netherlands)
Dana Oyarzabal (Argentina)
Meta Lergen (Switzerland)
Marvin Aelen (Switzerland)
Maret Gentinetta (Switzerland)
Antonio Zambrano (Peru)
Joana Bregolat (Spanish State)
Jonathan Neale (United kingdom)
Nancy Lindisfarne (United kingdom)
Xiomy Acevedo (Colombia)
Laura Veronica Nunez (Colombia)
Daniel Carapa (Portugal)
Martin Lallana (Spanish State)
Iratxe Delgado (Spanish State)
Endika Perez (Spanish State)
Jawad Moustakbal (Morocco)
Roland Kulke (Germany)
Tatiana Moutinho (Portugal)
João Camargo (Portugal)