Unions call for ‘just transition’ from coal

The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) has added its voice to calls for a transition away from coal-generated electricity, calling for a new statutory authority to manage a “just transition” to support workers and communities that rely on fossil fuel-related jobs, The Guardian said.

In a policy discussion paper, the ACTU said a planned closure of coal power stations with a jobs and energy strategy would “create a more prosperous and diversified economy”.

The paper called for an independent statutory body to be created within the environment and energy portfolio to be responsible for managing an orderly move towards a renewable energy economy.

ACTU president Ged Kearney said the transition away from fossil fuels in the power sector was inevitable.

“We’re not experts in climate change, but what’s obvious to the ACTU is they are going to close. They are already closing around us,” Mr Kearney said.

“I think there’s a lot of resistance to planning for this in Canberra. Our framework very squarely places responsibility on the federal government to come up with a national plan for the sake of the workers in this industry. They’re constantly whining and complaining when the states do have plans but they’re not doing anything themselves.”

The ACTU discussion paper, titled Sharing the challenges and opportunities of a clean energy economy, said Australia’s current emission cuts planned for 2030 would need to be strengthened in order to meet commitments made in Paris to keep global warming well below 2 degrees Celsius.

The paper says while Australia must ensure the transition to renewables takes place, the costs of that transition should not fall on the shoulders of workers in those industries but rather be shared across society.