“Our future is being placed at risk because of a lack of action. Earth Day cannot be a celebration so long as we continue to resist moving towards a sustainable environment, just transition and measures to achieve a low-carbon economy.”— Larry Brown, NUPGE President
Ottawa (20 April 2018) — Since 1970 the world has marked April 22 as Earth Day, but as we approach the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, things are more critical than ever, and yet we remain far away from the low-carbon, sustainable economy that we need.
Climate change is the greatest challenge humanity faces. Every day there is more evidence of the massive destructive force that a changing climate can unleash on virtually every aspect of our lives and that disproportionately targets the most vulnerable around the world.
Action is needed and unions are promoting solutions that address climate change as well as build a sustainable economy. Working through initiatives like Adapting Canadian Work and Workplaces and Climate Action Network Canada, unions are collaborating with our allies to pressure political leaders to take much-needed action.
Canada should be a leader not a laggard
There have been modest investments and modest initiatives, but after decades of inaction, modest measures are not enough. Bold action is what is needed and a plan must be implemented that will create targets and timelines for a transition to clean energy and green jobs. Canadians should be at the forefront of these emerging technologies and economies, not laggards in a world that is moving beyond fossil fuels.
Pipeline conflicts reflect a false choice
The current debate on pipelines highlights the conflict between those who embrace industries highly dependent on fossil fuels, and those who would protect the environment. What is missing are the needed major investments in a clean future that creates jobs as well as ensuring a clean environment. The choice between a clean environment and jobs is a false choice that exists only because we have no serious plan to move forward. The reality is that we need to both protect our environment and provide people with jobs and a sustainable economy. Both can be accomplished.
Move to a low-carbon economy must include a just transition
NUPGE has long held the view that the move to a low-carbon economy does not happen overnight. It is a deliberate process and requires planning and preparation from all levels of government. This process must include a just-transition strategy, which means creating sustainable jobs that protect the environment and offer lasting employment and economic security for communities.
The labour movement has been working on a just-transition strategy for decades. One of the main premises of a just transition is that the costs of shifting away from our dependence on fossil fuels should be shared across society rather than be borne alone by those most affected by this shift.
“This Earth Day, we must move beyond hopeful words to targeted action, our future depends on it,” Brown said.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 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