June 3 2022
“It can feel hard to celebrate when we’re in the midst of a climate crisis. We have come a long way when it comes to public awareness and support for climate action, to be sure, but we aren’t yet where we need to be.” — Larry Brown, NUPGE President
Ottawa (3 June 2022) — Canadian Environment Week was established in 1971. Every year, the week is meant to encourage Canadians to do their part for environmental protection and to celebrate the progress that’s been made.
The week encompasses World Environment Day (June 5) and Canada’s Clean Air Day (June 8).
What are we celebrating?
“It can feel hard to celebrate when we’re in the midst of a climate crisis,” said Larry Brown, President of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE). “We have come a long way when it comes to public awareness and support for climate action, to be sure, but we aren’t yet where we need to be.”
So far this year, there have been 2 urgent reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). One documented the devastating impacts of climate change across all regions and sectors, with vulnerable populations being hit the hardest. And the other emphasized the need for countries to step up their plans and to cut emissions in half by 2030.
In these reports, the world’s climate scientists are issuing a call to action — for a transition to a low-carbon economy that is just and transformational.
Governments must hold up their end
Meanwhile, the Canadian government talks a big game about being committed to ambitious climate action at the same time as it takes baby steps. It even approved a new fossil fuel infrastructure project this spring, and it continues to subsidize fossil fuel companies instead of investing in a Just Transition for workers and communities, as NUPGE has observed.
Provincial, territorial, and municipal governments need to step up too. We can’t afford any more delays on climate action.
Solutions are in front of us
“There are reasons for hope, though,” said Bert Blundon, NUPGE Secretary-Treasurer. There seems to be more public awareness than ever with regard to the climate crisis and strong support for action. Climate scientists have told us that, although the window for action is narrowing rapidly, it’s not too late to act. And the solutions are right in front of us.”
For example, Trade Unions for Energy Democracy, of which NUPGE is a part, recently released a new paper outlining how, by reclaiming utilities, cities can deliver on their climate targets and become leaders in the renewable energy transition through a strong public sector (TUED).
We are still waiting on the federal government to deliver on its 2019 commitment to enact Just Transition legislation to facilitate the transition to a low-carbon economy. A Just Transition Act would play an important role in ensuring the public programs and institutions are in place, so that affected workers and communities are supported through the transition and actually benefit from the potential opportunities associated with it, as this CCPA research shows.
World Environment Day, #OnlyOneEarth
World Environment Day aims to inspire positive change to protect the planet. This year, the theme for World Environment Day is #OnlyOneEarth.
For World Environment Day, the UN Environment Programme has made available a set of interactive resources where people can learn more, such as
- “Climate Action Note —data you need to know”
- “The domino effect —biodiversity loss and why it matters”
- “Our planet is choking on plastic”
Clean Air Day: Address air pollution
Air pollution is not only an environmental problem, it is a health problem. And not everyone is affected equally — air pollution is worse in low-income and BIPOC communities and it poses greater risk to vulnerable populations like people with disabilities, seniors, and youth.
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions will be important for tackling climate change and for building healthier, more sustainable communities. Learn more about Clean Air Day, including events happening across the country, on the government webpage.