New Statement Shows How Businesses Can Make a ‘Just Transition’ | earth beat


Washington D.C.- A new statement from the New York-based Interfaith Center for Corporate Accountability sets out what it expects of businesses as they make a “just transition” to a more sustainable economy.

These expectations include “high-speed” jobs, respect for human rights, positive community impacts, and redressing harm.

According to the statement, “high-profile” jobs are those that, among other things, provide family-friendly benefits, provide flexibility, pay a decent and fair wage, invest in employee growth, cultivate inclusion and promote health and safety.

The statement, released Feb. 9, has 96 global investors — including at least three dozen Catholics — as signatories with a total market capitalization of nearly $3.8 trillion.

This collection of investors is “representative of investors around the world,” said Stephanie Lavallato, ICCR associate program director of climate and environmental justice programs.

Not all of them are members of the ICCR either, she added, as the document was circulated beyond its membership before its publication. The group represents both “faith and values ​​investors,” Lavallato said, and “broader traditional investors.”

The document, “Statement of Investor Expectations for Employment Standards and Community Impacts in the Just Transition,” references the Paris Agreement, the 2015 international agreement on climate change and finance signed by then-President Barack Obama.

He ratified it on his own, bypassing the US Senate, and the deal went into effect in October 2016 after enough countries ratified it. Obama’s successor, Donald Trump, pulled the US out of the deal, saying it would “undermine” the national economy.

On February 19, 2021, under Trump’s successor, Joe Biden, the United States officially reverted to the climate accord.

The Paris Agreement, the ICCR statement noted, was “informed by long-standing corporate principles on human rights.” The agreement recognizes the importance of “a just transition of the workforce and the creation of decent and quality jobs” and “of taking into account vulnerable groups, communities and ecosystems”.

There are five key points for companies in the ICCR statement:

  • “Provide a foundation for decent work, benefits and working conditions.”
  • “Provide fair opportunities for quality jobs.”
  • “Investing in impacted communities.”
  • “Facilitate transparency and accountability.”
  • “Support just transition policies at all levels.”

“Healthy and fair communities, the provision of quality jobs with strong labor protections and fair wages, and operating within the limits of the earth’s resources are essential to a thriving economy and are therefore important to the long-term interests investors,” says the ICCR. noted.

Because of this, Lavallato told Catholic News Service in a Feb. 10 phone interview, companies will see that adopting these principles “will generate long-term value for investors.”

“We have seen over the past few years” that the combination of sustainability and social justice has become “increasingly popular as an issue that needs to be addressed,” she said.

Lavallato noted that another consortium of investors — one with a market capitalization of $10 trillion — took up the subject about three years ago and “got a lot of investor support.” But “it was on a higher level – more of a conversation – what does it mean in the long term why investors need to take a long-term plan – but didn’t refer to the ‘how’.”

“Our statement offers key guidance: what does it mean to provide fair employment opportunities, diverse workforce standards,” she said.

The ICCR statement supports companies’ efforts to adopt “best practices in hiring and human capital management, such as the use of local and targeted hiring arrangements, various contractual requirements and labor, prevailing wages, labor education and training, and other high standards.”

Elsewhere in the document, it says: “Healthy and fair communities, the provision of quality jobs with strong labor protections and fair wages, and operating within the limits of the earth’s resources are essential to a thriving economy. and are therefore important for long-term investors. -long-term interests.

“Communities of color have disproportionately suffered the impacts of corporate pollution and other environmental impacts from historic policies that routinely embed environmental racism,” he added.

The ICCR statement said, “Systemic disinvestment and underinvestment in communities of color has created inequitable access to opportunity, which has undermined these local economies.”

It calls on businesses to adhere to the “principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and to center a racial equity lens to address the harms of this persistent injustice and establish appropriate safeguards and processes to prevent harms.” future”.

He added: “A stakeholder-driven transition must include ongoing processes of social dialogue between workers and companies, as well as between affected rights holders and community members and companies, to inform decisions. “.

A company, the document says, has an obligation that goes beyond putting these principles into practice. “That means supporting (government) policies that address accountability, transparency and remediation in their plans to achieve science-based decarbonization goals.”

“Now the work begins, right? We have the declaration, now is the time to put it into action,” ICCR’s Lavallato told Catholic News Service. “We are heading into proxy season,” but deadlines have passed at most publicly traded companies to propose a shareholder resolution based on the principles of the statement.

But Lavallato predicted the document “will gain momentum as we head into the fall. The nature of just transition works and engages with an openness to other issues. It requires an ongoing conversation.”

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