Conservatives spurn global renewable energy agency | National Union of Public and General Employees

Conservatives spurn global renewable energy agency

Harper government gives Canada an international black eye by refusing to name a Canadian representative to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

James Clancy, president of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE)Ottawa (17 Sept. 2009) - The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is expressing concern at the refusal of the Harper government to appoint a Canadian representative to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

In a letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, NUPGE president James Clancy says the lack of a voice compromises Canada's future economic prosperity and further undermines its reputation in the fight against global climate change. Canada and Russia are alone among major developed countries in refusing to join the agency.

"We have missed a golden economic opportunity," says Clancy. "To build a low-carbon economy and stimulate clean jobs of the 21st century we must embrace renewable energies. This is an opportunity to share in technologies and policies that will play an important role in the global effort to control climate change, while fostering growth in a whole new economic sector."

New data published by the United Nations shows that in 2008 renewable energy systems such as wind and solar attracted more global investment than fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas. The Canadian renewable energy sector has also expanded rapidly over the past five years, although future growth is now at risk.

Canada stands diminished

"The international community expects that Canada will be there at a time when it is crucial that the world work together to deploy renewable energies and green technologies for the common good," Clancy writes.

"Once again, under your administration, the Canadian government is refusing to take part in international collaborative efforts. Your refusal to join international agencies and follow international conventions has severely diminished Canada's standing in the world," he says.

"Your government continues to turn its back on International Conventions that protect basic human dignity and rights through the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance and the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples."

Clancy says Canada also remains - "shamefully" - one of only nine countries in the world refusing to ratify the International Labour Organization's (ILO) Convention No. 29 on Forced Labour.

"Unfortunately, this isn’t the only shameful and egregious example of Canada’s refusal to recognize international human rights," he adds. "Canada is also refusing to ratify another fundamental Convention of the ILO, Convention No. 98 – Right to Organize and to Collective Bargaining.

"It's time for Canada to rebuild its shattered international reputation and to cooperate in good faith with international efforts to solve the climate crisis, human rights abuses and poverty across the globe," Clancy says.


The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

More information:
Text of letter from James Clancy to Stephen Harper on IRENA - pdf

Link to Toronto Star opinon piece by Jim Hansen - "No special treatment for the tarsands"


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