Canada’s unions call for Just Transition and ambitious climate action this Earth Day

April 22, 2019

Last year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stated clearly how we have eleven years to stabilize the planet at a 1.5-degree limit of warming, or face terrible physical and social impacts from climate change.

We are already feeling some of those effects, with extreme heat waves and flooding, forest fire seasons that are the worst on record, and the loss of biodiversity. Globally, more than 83 million climate refugees have fled from disaster and have lost livelihoods. The science is clear. We need our governments and our employers to do more to reduce emissions in every workplace, and Just Transition must be at the heart of climate action.

“Canada’s unions are working hard to ensure that Just Transition helps to put people at the heart of climate action, allowing us to be ambitious in meeting our climate commitments,” said CLC President Hassan Yussuff.

The final reports of Canada’s Just Transition Task Force for Canadian Coal Workers and Communities were released in March of this year. The Task Force made ten practical recommendations designed to support affected workers and their communities over the duration of Canada’s transition away from coal-fired electricity. The federal Budget 2019 included a commitment of a $150 million infrastructure fund to support priority projects and economic diversification in impacted communities. It also named the Minister of Natural Resources Canada as the lead minister responsible for driving action and reporting on the recommendations.

“More action is needed on the Task Force recommendations on supporting affected workers. Canada’s unions are ready to work with this government to ensure meaningful and timely action,” said Yussuff. “We know that Just Transition is key to achieving the ambitious climate policy we need if we are going to avert the worst impacts of a warming world.”

Canadian workers are watching the government’s response to the Task Force recommendations. Government action can serve to build much needed trust. Without that trust, we risk ambition being replaced with fear and division, resistance, and ultimately, climate devastation. All levels of government must raise their level of ambition for climate protection and ensure that their plans include Just Transition measures to protect workers, their families and their communities.

“We need employers to step up with plans to reduce emissions and to climate-proof our jobs and our work. And we need workers at the table helping to develop those plans,” said Yussuff.

Add your voice and tell the Minister of Natural Resources that a Just Transition plan must support workers and their families, through income support, training, re-employment services and pension bridging.

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