Organizations representing Colombia’s energy and mining sector workers are supporting the country’s transition to cleaner energy while preserving decades-long, hard-fought progress in turning often unsafe and poorly paid jobs into safer, family-sustaining livelihoods.
A joint declaration signed late last year formalizes the commitment of Colombia’s national labor federation Central Unitaria de Trabajadores–CUT and three of its largest mining- and energy-sector unions—Sintracarbón, Sintraelecol and Unión Sindical Obrera (USO)—to an urgent national effort to abandon fossil fuels and adopt new technologies, assuming those policies prioritize:
- National policies that support full compliance with Paris Agreement goals
- Government oversite of such policies, including all climate interventions implemented by private mining and energy companies in Colombia
- The preservation and strengthening of decent work in mining and energy sectors, and of their unions.
“Colombian energy- and mining-sector workers—and the communities they sustain—must participate in every step of the process to ensure workers’ rights to safety and good jobs are supported by the country’s energy transition policies,” says Carlos Guarnizo, Solidarity Center Colombia-based program coordinator.
“Transition to a new energy agenda should be negotiated with us and the rest of society,” to ensure a fair and democratic model of energy production, says the declaration. Energy- and mining-sector workers should be consulted because they have the knowledge and experience to conceive, propose and advance the discussions that will shape the policies on transition to clean energies. Declaration signatories will be working in coalition with one another, as well as with academics, social and environmental justice movements and the international community, to devise such a model.
“On Earth Day, the Solidarity Center stands with Colombian energy- and extractive-sector unions—and all others around the world—as they drive the vision for a fair or just transition to a cleaner, more inclusive, and more equitable economy,” says Sonia Mistry, Solidarity Center global lead on climate change and just transition.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) found that emissions from fossil fuels are the dominant cause of global warming. Carbon dioxide emissions increased by almost 90 percent from 1970 through 2011, with emissions from fossil fuel combustion and industrial processes contributing almost 80 percent of that increase. About 50 percent of Colombia’s electrical-generation capacity is in the hands of privately owned companies.