By Jonathan Neale - One Million Climate Jobs, January 5, 2016
In Canada, an alliance of unions, with environment, youth, public interest, faith-based organizations and First Nations are working together through the Green Economy Network to put these principles to practice, by calling for “one million climate jobs” in Canada within the next five years.
The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) has recently adopted its COP21 Statement, emphasizing that climate change is already affecting production and consumption patterns in many sectors of our economy.
The warnings by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that the current pace of emissions is already consuming the entire global carbon budget is a clear indication that market forces on their own are not in a position to provide the kind of transition that will prevent catastrophic climate change.
Governments must step up to the plate by working and providing leadership for the common good and public interest. With a new government in Ottawa, Canada is now in a position to commit ambitious, achievable, science-based targets to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
At the 2009 COP15 in Copenhagen, Canada pledged with other G8 countries to cut its carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050. Such a target implies emission cuts by 2030 of no less than 38 percent of 2005 levels. Now, at COP21, we urge the federal government to recommit to at least this target.
As have Germany and Australia with their coal industries, there is a need to be proactive in regulating the petroleum industry in Canada and curbing expansion of the oil sands, which remains the fastest growing sector of the economy for greenhouse gas emissions, despite the falling oil prices.
This calls for significant industrial transformation toward a new low-to-zero carbon economy. A transformation that will eliminate or transform existing jobs, likely bringing about resistance to change, which could undermine a much needed social consensus in Canada for a way forward.
To address this resistance, a just transition strategy that is supported by workers, employers and governments is needed, with a focus on creating new jobs and incorporating training and education for displaced workers. The strategy must embody social support, re-employment and compensation measures, and be devised with the participation of workers and their representatives.
These measures must also go hand in hand with efforts to deal with unemployment overall, as rising CO2 levels and job losses are the products of the same economic model. A commitment to Decent Work, as understood by the International Labour Organization (ILO), can pave the way to an economic model that addresses social injustice, poverty and inequality at the same time. In 2013, the Canadian government, employers and unions agreed, along with those of other countries, to a set of guiding principles that can do just that. Now is the time to apply these principles for dealing with climate change in Canada.
In Canada, an alliance of unions, with environment, youth, public interest, faith-based organizations and First Nations are working together through the Green Economy Network to put these principles to practice, by calling for “one million climate jobs” in Canada within the next five years. Similarly, the Blue Green Canada also brings together unions and environmental groups to tackle these issues.