A Successful Transition to a Zero Carbon Future Must be a Just Transition

World leaders, nearly 150 at the largest gathering of heads of state and government, have spoken and the climate talks in Paris are underway. Negotiators have just over a week to agree a binding global agreement with a commitment to a 'just transition' to give people hope that both jobs and the planet will be secured.

In this blog series about how business is addressing climate change the baton has been passed between a mayor, a media mogul, businessmen, entrepreneurs and sustainability leaders, to share their plans to tackle climate change and move to net zero emissions.

As a member of The B Team, unions now sit alongside a global group of business leaders who are taking action on climate change.

In many countries around the world from Germany, to Sweden and Senegal this model of unions, employers and governments working together is used to transform business, economies societies and lower emissions.

Working people, many of whom are in the front lines of climate change, have a role to play in designing their social and economic opportunities and the transition to a zero carbon future.

On the eve of COP 21, nearly a million people took to the streets at over two thousand events in hundred and seventy-five countries, negotiators in Paris should remember people are ahead of their Governments. ITUC global polling shows that 90 per cent of people want climate action in the next twelve -months with three-quarters calling for immediate action.

Ambitious change, the kind of change which is needed to stop global temperatures rising above 2 degrees Celsius takes leadership from business leaders, and from politicians. It also takes dialogue with workers and their communities to take the change from conference rooms to corner shops.

The ITUC has campaigned relentlessly for a global agreement and just transition measures to mitigate climate change. 'There are no jobs on a dead planet' is our global call. This is more than a slogan as we are already witnessing the loss of lives and livelihoods from extreme weather events and changing seasons.

Two and half million people have been displaced from their homes, and many workers are on the frontlines of the frontlines of the industrial transformation that is a necessity for a zero carbon future.

There is no doubt that investment in climate action will drive jobs. In renewable energy the U.S. solar industry is creating jobs twenty times faster than the overall economy while the world's largest renewable energy job market is in China, with 3.4 million working in the industry. In Germany, 370,000 people are employed in renewable energy, the largest number in Europe.

The urgency to ensure a circular economy to live within planetary boundaries will spawn new technologies, businesses and jobs.

There will be a transition from fossil fuels and the related energy companies and their supply chains will be disrupted if businesses don't plan for industrial transformation.

Fossil fuel workers who have brought us today's prosperity should have respect and just transition measures for workers to ensure skills training and redeployment with secure pensions for older people. Investment in economic renewal for vulnerable communities, with a percentage of a carbon tax or the transferral of part of fossil fuel subsidies to a fund for the security of displaced workers is essential.

The B team, faith groups civil society representing, more than half a million people and a thousand businesses have backed the international trade union call for dialogue between workers, business, governments that will ensure a just transition to a zero carbon future

The next step is for business to engage in social dialogue with their workers to plan for decarbonisation and jobs. And the investment of workers capital - our pension funds - should only be invested where companies have a plan for transition consistent with the boundaries of a two degrees temperature rise.

There are no jobs on a dead planet but there is no hope and no economy without jobs - a just transition is vital to sustainability.

A sustainable future will take all of us: workers, business leaders and governments.

This post is part of the "Businesses for Climate" series, led by Michael Bloomberg and The Huffington Post, in conjunction with LinkedIn. The series is intended to call attention to the role of businesses in leading the way when it comes to taking action on climate change, in advance of the U.N.'s 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris next week. To view the entire series, visit here.