“This youth-led movement serves as another reminder that we must not forget about the climate crisis amidst the COVID-19 crisis. In fact, the pandemic has illustrated the unequal impacts of a crisis, which we are already seeing with the impacts of climate change, as well as the ambitious, course-changing response that’s possible when the political will is there. We know that Canadians’ will is with climate action. Will the Trudeau government’s be as well?” — Larry Brown, NUPGE President
Ottawa (25 Sept. 2020) — The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) marks today’s Global Day of Climate Action by joining the call for urgent, ambitious action on climate change.
“This youth-led movement serves as another reminder that we must not forget about the climate crisis amidst the COVID-19 crisis,” said Larry Brown, NUPGE President. “In fact, the pandemic has illustrated the unequal impacts of a crisis, which we are already seeing with the impacts of climate change, as well as the ambitious, course-changing response that’s possible when the political will is there.”
“We know that Canadians’ will is with climate action,” said Brown. “Will the Trudeau government’s be as well?”
Student strike movement is still strong
The student strike movement has been largely led by Fridays for Futures, started by teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg, who began her own school strike in August 2018 to protest her government’s inaction on climate change. Of course, this work built on the foundations laid by others, especially Indigenous peoples, who have long been at the forefront of the response to environmental and climate change.
Last year, NUPGE’s National Executive Board formally endorsed the student-led Global Climate Strike along with labour and civil society organizations in Canada and around the world, encouraging Canadians, where possible, to show their support.
At the time, NUPGE President Larry Brown wrote about why climate action matters to workers — as workers and as members of their communities — and, therefore, why it matters to unions. In the face of the climate emergency, workers and their unions must take action to ensure a more just and sustainable future. As the young climate strikers have underscored, we have an obligation to act — not only for ourselves, but for generations to come.
One year later, these observations are no less true, and action on climate change is no less urgent.
The post-Covid recovery must be just and sustainable
The COVID-19 response and climate action are not mutually exclusive. NUPGE has joined hundreds of organizations across the country in calling for a Just Recovery to the COVID-19 pandemic. A Just Recovery means:
- Put people’s health and wellbeing first, no exceptions
- Strengthen the social safety net and provide relief directly to people
- Prioritize the needs of workers and communities
- Build resilience to prevent future crises
- Build solidarity and equity across communities, generations, and borders
- Uphold Indigenous rights and work in partnership with Indigenous peoples
The organizers of Canada’s day of climate action are also calling on the government to ensure the recovery is a just and sustainable one. The day of action is being organized under the umbrella of Not Going Back, meaning that going back to "normal" after the pandemic is not acceptable.
Keep the momentum going
This week’s Speech from the Throne, in which the federal government outlines its goals and priorities for the coming session of Parliament, signaled commitments from the Trudeau government to ambitious action on climate change.
Of course, the devil will be in the details. NUPGE and other advocates will be closely watching the next federal budget and parliamentary session for concrete, meaningful action on these commitments.
The day of action aims to maintain pressure on the federal government and to demonstrate the widespread support for bold climate action. There are many in-person and virtual actions to take part in across the country.
Let’s keep the momentum going and be sure the federal government delivers on its promises.
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