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We cannot effectively tackle global warming if we do not act on the three dimensions of sustainability – economic, social and environmental. The Green New Deal is an important instrument to reach the bold sustainability objectives set by the European Union. Still, the rapid transition which it is meant to bring about will cause profound societal changes. We will have to face and manage those social disruptions in the best possible way if we want to ensure broad societal support. A new logic of sustainability needs to be incorporated into the current social contract if we want to alleviate the pressure on the existing industrial relation models in Europe.
In the mainstream debate on climate change policies the environmental dimension often takes the lead, but the social dimension is essential. If we do not manage to distribute the cost of the transition costs fairly, will inevitably create more inequality and more resistance to change. We need to build a shared vision on a just transition but also use the opportunity to (re)define our social goals and agree on how we should measure wellbeing and prosperity. In other words, we will need to reinvent our economic model so as to deliver what is important for us while staying within the ecological limits.
With our upcoming ETUI-ETUC conference ‘Towards a new socio-economic contract’ we would like to provide an open platform for trade unions, institutional stakeholders, political actors, academics to discuss the challenges, problems and risks that we must tackle in order to establish a new sustainability paradigm. The aim this time is not only to understand what is lying in front of us but also to identify what we can do today and tomorrow in order to induce the necessary steps. That is why it is very important not to lose sight of various aspects of the interplay of global warming and human economic activity such as biodiversity, trade, alternative prosperity indicators, working time, the re-invented automobile industry, digital platforms etc.
This conference also marks a turning point for the ETUI as we will scale up our work on the socio-ecological transition with several new research projects in the coming months. Our goal is to develop our expertise so as to become a reference point on the issues related to climate change and the world of work in the years to come.