Leading international figures discuss clean energy labour issues with IEA Executive Director ahead of COP28

At meeting of IEA Clean Energy Labour Council, trade union representatives share views on top policy priorities at upcoming UN climate conference

The IEA Clean Energy Labour Council, which brings together leading trade union figures and other key voices from around the world, met today to exchange ideas on the biggest labour issues associated with the clean energy transition in advance of the COP28 UN climate change conference in Dubai.

Convened by IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol, the Clean Energy Labour Council aims to ensure the perspective of workers is heard in discussions about energy and climate policy, given the major ramifications for labour globally.

According to IEA analysis, around 30 million more workers would be needed in clean energy sectors by 2030 on a pathway compatible with limiting global warming to 1.5 °C, many of them requiring new skills and training. On the same pathway, around 13 million fewer workers would be needed in fossil fuel sectors, resulting in a net increase of 17 million jobs. However, around half of workers in occupations at risk have skills in demand in growing clean tech sectors. Ensuring an orderly and fair transition for affected workers requires robust new training programmes and careful planning.

“The outcomes of COP28 will have significant implications for citizens and workers around the world,” Dr Birol said. “That is why it is so important that labour is able to input its point of view ahead of the discussions in Dubai. Global leaders need to carefully consider the impact of energy and climate policy on jobs, and to put people at the centre of energy transitions.”

The meeting – chaired by Sharan Burrow, former General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation – focused on policy priorities set for COP28, including faster progress on energy efficiency and renewables, reducing the use of fossil fuels, clean energy finance, and negotiations on just transitions.

In his remarks, Dr Birol emphasised the importance of ensuring clean energy transition policies keep a sharp focus on fairness and prioritise positive outcomes for people, workers and communities.

He also announced that the IEA will host its first ever global Ministerial Summit on people-centred and inclusive transitions next year in Paris. The event will take place at the IEA headquarters on 18 April 2024. It will bring together high-level leaders from government, labour and civil society to discuss the most pressing socioeconomic issues of the world’s clean energy future.