COP28: new wins for workers and an agreement to transition away from fossil fuels, but no explicit commitments

(15 December 2023) After two weeks of tough negotiations, COP28 has just concluded with an agreement to transition away from fossil fuels in a just, orderly and equitable manner. This is the first time that fossil fuels have been specifically targeted in the Global Stocktake (GST), marking a historic win for unions who have long called for a just transition away from coal, oil and gas. However, the final agreement waters down earlier, stronger language from the text to ‘phase out’ fossil fuels and lacks explicit commitments. 

The GST makes very limited progress in terms of climate adaptation and finance, despite acknowledging the trillions of dollars in support that will be needed. The positive establishment of the loss and damage fund is undermined by the failure of the agreement to mobilize the level of finance needed for adaptation measures.  

Whilst EU leaders were amongst those pushing for stronger language to phase out fossil fuels and using the occasion to renew their commitments to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees, the ETUC has raised doubts about the EU’s ability to achieve this. Under the blocs plans for new fiscal rules, just four member states would be able to make the investments needed to meet the EU’s climate commitment.  

Other wins for workers include the recognition of labour rights in the Just Transition Work Programme, and the incorporation of social protection in the adaptation measures. However, without recognition of trade unions in the GST, the strong voice of workers in the climate dialogue that is clearly needed for a just transition remains uncertain. 

  • Articles on previous COPs

#COP26, unions and public services (4 November 2021)

It’s now or never – will the EU commit to a socially just green deal? (3 December 2019)

EPSU fights for Just Transition at COP24 (14 December 2018)