Ensuring a Just Energy Transition across the Commonwealth

Jump to Speakers
Racquel Moses
Tasneem Essop
Alisi Rabukawaqa
Sharan Burrow
Date & Time
11:00am, 18 October 2022 - 12:30pm, 18 October 2022
About the event

The window of opportunity to address the climate crisis is shrinking.

To date, actions by industrialised countries to transition from the use and extraction of fossil fuels fall far short of commitments to maintain temperature rise below 1.5 degrees. At current levels of fossil fuel use, temperatures are projected to rise at twice that rate. 

The need for urgent action is felt most acutely in the Commonwealth’s small island states—amongst the world’s smallest and lowest-lying countries. Without a drastic reduction in the burning of fossil fuels, their efforts to adapt to climate change may be in vain.

What challenges do small island and vulnerable states face when it comes to a clean energy transition?

Leaders of small and vulnerable states from the Pacific to the Caribbean have pointed out that the global financial system, international debt and trade rules must rapidly evolve so that the much-needed transition of energy systems does not impose further burdens on people and countries who can least afford to carry them. Already in a cycle of debt exacerbated by climate impacts, the cost of transitioning energy systems would be crippling for small and vulnerable states. It has also been pointed out that there has been little meaningful discussion around how economies dependent on service industries, such as tourism—the mainstay for many small island states—could adapt and decarbonise. 

While fossil fuel production will inevitably continue to be part of any transition, technologies are being developed—and some are already available—that will allow us to remake many of our energy systems in ways that would drastically reduce carbon emissions. But climate scientists are clear that progress is dangerously slow. The reasons for this are complex, but they include the extent to which current energy systems are woven into the fabric of economies, societies and individual lives. There is also the reality that the benefits flowing from massive investments required to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels are both uncertain and long into the future.  

Why should I join this event?

This Critical Conversation will explore how a transition to clean energy can be achieved without imposing fresh burdens on the world’s poorest, with a particular focus on the Commonwealth’s small island and climate-vulnerable states.

Changing energy systems will require, first and foremost, a change in the terms of the conversation—and a widening of that conversation to include not just politicians and business leaders, but also those who suffer directly from our failure to act. 

Join this conversation for a chance to connect with others and sharpen your understanding of what a ‘just transition’ to clean energy really means.

Racquel Moses Moderator
Tasneem Essop Speaker
Alisi Rabukawaqa Speaker
Sharan Burrow Speaker
Racquel Moses

UNFCCC Global Ambassador & Chief Executive Officer

Caribbean Climate-Smart Accelerator

Racquel has enabled leadership and organizations around the world to go beyond their current vision and stay on the cusp of what’s next.

As the newest UN Global Ambassador in the Race to Zero, Racquel has become a critical advisor for driving the shift to digital, process automation, and implementing key turnaround projects that heighten customer engagement and strengthen organizational performance.

Known for her ability to build coalitions, Racquel’s success in the public and private sectors has allowed her to drive important advancements on world-changing topics that require regional consensus, such as climate change, sustainability and building resilience.

Tasneem Essop

Tasneem Essop is currently the Executive Director of Climate Action Network International (CAN-I). She completed serving her second term as Commissioner in the National Planning Commission in South Africa, appointed by the President, where she led the work on Climate Change and the Just Transition.She previously headed the climate team in WWF International and served as the Head of Delegation for the organisation at the UNFCCC right through to the COP in Paris.She became a Member of the Provincial Parliament in the Western Cape in 1994 after the first democratic elections in South Africa and held the positions of Provincial Minister of Transport, Public Works and Property Management from 2001 to 2004 and Provincial Minister for the Environment, Planning and Economic Development from 2004 to 2008 when she resigned from politics.Tasneem was an anti-apartheid activist from an early age in different capacities until the democratic elections in 1994. During this time she was a student and youth activist, a teacher and a trade unionist.

Alisi Rabukawaqa

Alisi Rabukawaqa-Nacewa has for over the past decade worked in environment conservation, climate activism and indigenous peoples’ traditional rights and knowledge advocacy. She sits on the youth-led grassroots network 350.org Pacific Climate Warriors Council of Elders as the Melanesian representative, providing traditional knowledge on working with Pacific communities and indigenous perspectives to their climate justice work. In 2017, Alisi represented the Youth and Civil Society group at the UN Ocean Conference as part of the Fijian delegation. Alisi was also part of the Pacific Islands Climate Change Negotiators Workshop at the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat in 2017. 

Sharan Burrow

Sharan Burrow is the General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, representing 200 million workers in 163 countries and territories with 332 national affiliates. The ITUC’s primary mission is the promotion and defense of workers’ rights and interests, through international cooperation between trade unions, global campaigning, and advocacy within the major global institutions.

Previously President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) from 2000 – 2010, Sharan is a passionate advocate and campaigner for social justice, women’s rights, the environment, and labour law reforms, and has led union negotiations on major economic reforms and labour rights campaigns in her home country of Australia and globally. She has also served as a member of the Governing Body of the International Labour Organisation and is represented on a number of international commissions concerning climate action, industrial transition, and economic reform.

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