IndustriAll acknowledges that climate change is already happening and that the future of EU industries must be climate neutral. At the same time, it notes that the `Fit for 55` package launched by the EU Commission on 14 July to translate the increased 2030 climate targets into specific measures, represents a dramatic acceleration of the EU’s decarbonisation. Industry and its workforce are among the most impacted by these measures. IndustriAll Europe expresses its disappointment that despite some initiatives, the package does not include new measures or significant resources to ensure that workers are guaranteed a Just Transition while accelerating the EU’s decarbonisation.

IndustriAll asks the Commission: `where is the legal framework for the anticipation of change?` `Where is the Just Transition programme for all workers covered by the Green Deal (with resources, active labour market policies and social dialogue)?`

IndustriAll demands that instead of deindustrialisation, the package leads to the transformation of industries, not to disruption and brutal restructuring. It should also take the time needed to transform industries in all regions. The package must create an environment that is designed to enable decarbonisation, including decarbonised electricity, infrastructures, strong value chains and skilled workforces. Judith Kirton-Darling, Deputy General Secretary of industriAll Europe, added: “The EU ETS is not an effective industrial policy. A reform of the ETS must be enshrined into a broader industrial strategy with sectoral and regional specificities...”.

The ETUC warned that the with reform of the ETS and in particular with the creation of a separate Emission Trading System for road transport and buildings. the burden of the climate transition is increasingly being placed on low-income households. It stressed that at a time when 50 million EU households are already in energy poverty, a new ETS on road transport and buildings could lead to inadequate carbon pricing and increasing inequalities. The proposed new Climate Action Social Facility is insufficient to compensate for the regressive distributional effects of the new ETS on road transport and buildings. ETUC Confederal Secretary Ludovic Voet said: “The extension of the EU emissions trading scheme to road transport and buildings will fuel a Gilet Jaunes style social backlash all over Europe.”

European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) issued a very critical statement on how it sees the Fit for 55 package affecting the European car industry. While it shares the overall objective of climate neutrality by 2050, it also adds that“banning a single technology is not a rational way forward at this stage". The ACEA interprets the 100% reduction target by 2035 as effectively a ban of the internal combustion engine. As one of the last defenders of the combustion engine it speaks out for technology neutrality in decarbonising road transport to also include highly efficient internal combustion engines beside hybrids, battery electric and hydrogen vehicles to play a role. “It is not the internal combustion engine that is detrimental to the environment, but fossil-based fuels,”  said the ACEA.

Business Europe, while welcoming the Fit for 55 package and sharing its overall objectives, stresses that it sees “the devil in the details”, emphasising also that the EU is only responsible for 8% of global emissions. As Europe increases its climate ambition while uncertainties about the decarbonisation plans of its trading partners persist, guaranteeing fair competition and protection against carbon leakage is more relevant than ever, says Business Europe. It is also concerned about the plans by the Commission to reduce the amount of free allocations to be received by the sectors covered by the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM). The reduction path, together with some of the open questions around the effectiveness of CBAM risks destabilising the investment outlook for these sectors enormously, says Business Europe.

National level

In the run-up to the German federal elections, the biggest German union, DGB has launched its Transition Charter` to summarise its demands to the new government as regards a just transition to a zero-carbon economy. The Charter states that climate policy would not work without deeply rooted support in society (saying also that tackling inequality is as important as tackling climate change). The central point of the demands is a strong and active state, to be achieved with massive investments, an active employment policy, and by setting up a state-owned transition fund. State interventions and subsidies will also be required to balance the operating and development costs of new technologies. It also demands more planning reliability and a better co-ordination between different segments of the energy transition. The charter stresses that mobility needs to be affordable and accessible for everybody.

As for the role of actors, the DGB charter makes it clear that strong social partners and co-determination are key elements of a successful transformation. Decent work clauses must be part of any public procurement. The DGB also demands a `wage loyalty law` to enable the extension of sectoral collective agreements and that the national minimum wage be raised to 12 EUR/hour. While the charter is meant for the national level, it also sees the European dimension as important. Key demands are to strengthen collective bargaining at EU level, to improve co-determination for workers, and to have effective minimum wages against poverty and EU standards for unemployment insurance.

Photo credits Martin Bergsma