The sub-Saharan Africa region faces a serious energy crisis, with 80% of the people relying on traditional biomass for meeting their household needs and more than 50% lacking access to electricity. Current energy systems based on oil, gas and coal benefit only a small proportion of the population, while the unequal access to energy and electricity exacerbates existing grievances. It perpetuates gender inequality, constrains economic and social development, and ignores the region’s high vulnerability to climate change. The well-known climate risks in the region, such as flooding, storms, droughts and accompanying heat waves, have devastating impacts. Developing progressive climate change policies and building resilience, including strategies for adaptation and mitigation, is therefore crucial.
Unions must advocate a sustainable energy transition and influence broader societal debates as well as political decision-making processes. That is why FES TUCC together with IndustriALL and its national affiliates have initiated a regional network, the sub-Saharan Africa Energy Network (SSAEN), which focuses in particular on the appropriate sustainable energy mix and the related just transition measures. The aim of this network is to engage with policy makers at different levels. At the same time, its local activities ensure the wider participation of rank and file activists and the involvement of other social groups embracing energy transitions.
Furthermore, FES TUCC undertakes work on climate change with ITUC-Africa. A working group on just transition has been formed, which prepares African trade union positions and demands for the annual United Nations Climate Change Conference. This working group is also developing a policy document on just transition that reflects the specific context and the challenges that workers and unions on the continent are facing. Lastly, FES TUCC supports national centres in developing climate change policies and engaging policy makers.