We must act for an environmentally sustainable future

The National Union is releasing a series of backgrounders on environmental challenges facing Canadians.

Ottawa (29 Nov. 2019) ― Over the last few years, Canada’s wildfire seasons have been some of the worst on record. The growing prevalence and severity of wildfires is one of the issues that most dramatically illustrates the threat of human-induced climate change.

It demonstrates the effects of environmental crises on those communities and workers — our members — on the frontlines. Extreme wildfires have also exposed the glaring inequalities that are inherent in the climate crisis. In the midst of the horrific California wildfire season, for example, the extremely wealthy were paying for extra protection for their homes.

NUPGE releases environment backgrounders

The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is releasing a series of backgrounders on these and other environmental challenges facing Canadians. The first of the series, We Must Act for an Environmentally Sustainable Future: An Introduction, is released today.

The backgrounders are drawn from chapters of NUPGE’s policy paper We Must Act for an Environmentally Sustainable Future that was presented to members at its 2019 Triennial Convention.

The backgrounders highlight several — and interconnected — aspects of environmental degradation:

  • Climate change
  • Air pollution
  • Ocean plastics pollution
  • Deforestation
  • Loss of biodiversity
  • Soil depletion

The need for environmental justice and a just transition 

The effects of environmental degradation are unevenly distributed, with marginalized communities bearing the brunt. Poor, racialized, and Indigenous communities in Canada and around the world disproportionately experience the effects of climate change, pollution, water contamination, and food insecurity.

This series of environmnetal papers highlights that the fight for ecological sustainability must also be the fight for social and economic equality. It must ensure the shift to a low-carbon future is a just transition for workers and their communities. These struggles must also value Indigenous knowledge, which will make an essential contribution to both tackling environmental crises and advancing reconciliation.

The National Union will be part of the movement

In the face of these environmental crises, the National Union cannot, and must not, sit idly by. We have an obligation to act for ourselves and all future generations.

We continue to pressure the government to take necessary action to tackle these challenges. We believe governments must not respond to the climate crisis with further austerity measures, but through greater, more robust public services.

We envision a future that is more ecologically sustainable, but also more equitable and just for all workers and their communities. 

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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