It is possible to protect both workers and the climate: “We don’t have to choose between climate and jobs”


Brussels, 30.04.2024 – In a joint report prepared by the Confederation of Revolutionary Trade Unions of Turkey (DİSK) and Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe ahead of May 1, the International Day of Unity, Struggle and Solidarity of the Working Class, it is stated that just transition plans should be prepared to ensure that workers are not left unemployed and have new jobs worthy of human dignity while combating climate change.

In parallel with global climate targets, policies are being implemented all over the world to free economies from fossil fuels such as coal, gas and oil. In this process, some carbon-intensive sectors are disappearing, some are transformed with new technologies, and some new sectors are emerging. However, Turkey’s strategies to combat climate change do not yet include social policy measures regarding the situation of workers in these transformed sectors.

For the first time in Turkey, a joint report prepared by a trade union and a climate organisation titled ” Trade Unions and Just Transition: Current Situation, Potential and Constraints “, was prepared., The current situation and potential in Turkey regarding just transition was investigated by stating that workers, not companies, should be at the centre of this transformation to combat climate change.

In the report, it was stated that the following items should be included in the just transition plans to be prepared for each region:

  • Creation of employment guarantee
  • Establishing necessary assistance mechanisms for displaced workers
  • Provision of support mechanisms for new local industries
  • Dissemination of skills development and vocational trainings
  • Expanding income security and education opportunities
  • Establishing social security practices (early retirement, etc.) integrated into the process
  • Provision of favourable credit facilities and incentives for new industries and employers
  • Workers’ access to adequate information on changes in production processes and closures at the workplace
  • Enabling consultation and full participation of trade unions in decision-making processes
  • Supporting the elderly, disabled and disadvantaged groups


Historical process of just transition

It is possible to define a just transition as a labour-oriented understanding that would prevent environmental protection efforts from taking precedence over the welfare of workers and society. Especially in the 1970s, the concept of just transition, which was first voiced by trade unions, emerged as a “trade union demand”. In the following period, this concept has been expanded and the creation of a sustainable economy focusing on combating climate change and simultaneously providing decent employment opportunities have been among the main objectives of the just transition demand. It is noteworthy that in the 1980s and 1990s, demands for just transition became more visible and the meaning attributed to the concept began to expand. The Just Transition Alliance, which was established in cooperation with environmental justice organisations and labour organisations, ensured the institutionalisation of the demand for a just transition.

The Paris Agreement, adopted by 196 countries and EU at COP21, is recognised as a historical turning point for just transition. The concept of just transition was included in the text of the Paris Agreement, thus the demand for just transition was concretely put forward in the green transformation process and secured through an international document.

Şükret Sevgener, member of the Executive Board of the Confederation of Revolutionary Trade Unions of Turkey (DİSK) and Head of the Department of Environmental Problems:

“The climate crisis affects workers, women, the poor and young people the most. We are in a process where working styles are changing all over the world to combat the climate crisis. We demand a climate-friendly working life that does not allow the plunder of nature, befitting human dignity, ensuring gender equality and where workers have a say. We do not have to choose between our jobs and our future as imposed by capital. Therefore, we say fair transformation is a must. On the occasion of 1 May, we will once again be in the squares to defend the rights of workers. We do not accept this order of capital that exploits nature, workers and citizens for the sake of profit, fuelling the climate crisis and making our tomorrow precarious. In this report, we demand that this transformation evolves into a new egalitarian social contract. As the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) points out: “There can be no jobs on a dead planet.” We demand a just and democratic transformation against the climate crisis in which workers have a say.”

Özlem Katısöz,CAN Europe’s Senior Climate and Energy Policy Coordinator for Turkey

The measures taken to tackle the climate crisis are reconstructing all our modes of production, consumption and organisation as humanity. Turkey cannot be left out of this new system due to both its net zero target for 2053 and the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism, which is being implemented by its trade partners such as the European Union. It is possible for this inevitable transformation process to be realised for the welfare of citizens without harming the economy and employment, especially in coal regions, with fair transition plans to be prepared today. In order for this process to be fair and leave no one behind, plans that are centrally supported, in which the people and workers are active in the planning processes, that focus on gender equality, the right to live in a healthy environment, and decent work must be created and implemented as soon as possible.”

“Although the measures taken worldwide to combat the climate crisis are still not in line with the critical threshold of 1.5 degrees, they are increasing rapidly and show that we are entering a new world order. Turkey has joined these efforts, albeit insufficiently, with its 2053 net zero target, but the fair transition plans and roadmap necessary for this target, which prioritise the welfare of the people, are not yet available. In order for this transformation process to be “just”, it is necessary to create local, inclusive, gender equality perspective and detailed plans supported from the centre, to ensure that the public and workers can take an active role in these planning processes, and to use public and private sector resources for the welfare of citizens. With a fair planning process, Turkey can take its place in global climate action, fulfil its part of the 1.5 degree target, and build a strong climate-resilient economy, in addition to producing jobs that are decent, appropriate to local conditions, and in which women and disadvantaged groups actively participate in employment.”


Access the report here







Public Statement: A Social and Green Investment Plan for a prosperous and just transition

As organisations committed to tackling the multifaceted crises of our times – from climate change and biodiversity loss to the cost of living and energy independence – we call for a €1 trillion investment plan for people and the planet to be at the top of the agenda for future EU leadership. These challenges are largely an investment challenge, and EU funding is more needed than ever to mobilise and boost public and private financing of Europe’s resilience and competitive sustainability. Political parties’ manifestos all recognise this need. Now is the time to meet citizens’ expectations of a better future, invest in the transformation of our economy, and make good on the promises of the Green Deal. This statement presents our proposal for a Social and Green Investment Plan that would achieve these aims.

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