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After Brexit & Trump Victory: Climate Deal Must Offer Hope For Coal Miners, Says German Minister

Ed King, Climate Home

A poorly managed transition from fossil fuels to cleaner forms of energy and industry will lead to a rise in populist and illiberal political forces.

That was the unusually blunt warning from Jochen Flasbarth, state secretary at the German Environment Ministry, in a presentation on Monday at the UN’s COP22 climate summit.

On point to celebrate Berlin’s new climate plan through to 2050, he was keen to emphasise the need for nationwide support for the radical carbon cuts it proposes.

“We will leave nobody behind – if you organise the transition in a way people feel ‘I’m left behind’, they will follow illiberal forces we see all over the world,” said Flasbarth.

As policy experts, business leaders and national envoys digest the news of Donald Trump’s shock win earlier this week, two words are becoming increasingly common: just transition.

With many voters in the US election and June’s UK “Brexit” vote complaining of the impacts of globalisation and the lack of quality jobs, it’s a major concern for climate experts.

The world needs to wean itself off fossil fuels fast, but how many of the envoys that crafted the Paris climate agreement thought about coal mining and industrial communities left behind?

One reference to a “just transition” made it into the final text, calling for the “creation of decent work and quality jobs” according to “nationally defined development priorities”.

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