Auto Workers Endorsing the Fight Against Climate Change

CAW delegates, this August 2007, unanimously endorsed the policy paper 'Climate Change and Our Jobs: Finding the Right Balance'. This endorsement announces a full commitment from the CAW to the fight against climate change.

The policy paper highlights causes and effects of greenhouse gas emissions and growing climate change dangers. It comes down hard on the Harper governments weak actions and the fee bate schemes that tend to disproportionately penalize North American car manufactures.

The paper rightly implicates economic globalization as a culprit in accelerating climate change and entrenching environmental problems created by our daily consumer habits; easy access to overseas products, including out of season foods, and plentiful, cheap disposable products.

There is an emphasis on economics, calling for a restructuring to a low carbon and energy efficient economy. The paper further argues the need for government intervention to activate this change. Lastly, there is a call for reformation of global relations, where inequities in shouldering the climate burden are acknowledged and responsibility is borne equitably.

Most of the elements of the “sustainable community” concept; strong local economies, a healthy environment, and a just and democratic society, are included in this policy paper if not clearly defined. There is an understanding that a green auto industry is essential, and to the benefit of workers, their communities and the economy. A path towards this vision may require more discussion but a range of options is laid out to stimulate further planning and discussion.

Unfortunately, no mention of just transition strategies; including retraining, financial support for laid-off workers, or industrial conversion is made throughout the paper. There is much room for visionary thinking and monumental leadership in the years to come as labour, governments, communities, and industry create a new low carbon economy! By acknowledging and defining the need for change, the Canadian Auto Workers have taken that first crucial step.

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