This Earth Day, unions are calling for a carbon reduction strategy for workers and communities

April 22, 2018

This Earth Day, Canada’s unions say workers and communities need a strategy for transitioning to a zero-carbon world.

“Unions, business, communities and governments must work together on comprehensive strategies that will ensure those most affected can adapt and thrive as we shift to a zero-carbon economy,” said CLC President Hassan Yussuff.

Yussuff pointed to the reality of climate change around the world and here in Canada.

“We must face the facts. Warmer climates are compromising food and water supplies, and that’s hurting the livelihoods of millions. Rising temperatures are causing severe draughts in parts of the world,” he said.

He cited Cape Town, South Africa as an example, where resident face strict water rations in a bid to stave off Day Zero, the projected day when taps will run dry. Current estimates show that Day Zero will come in 2019.

“Here in Canada, it’s widely accepted that climate change played a big part in causing the catastrophic fire that ravaged Fort McMurray in 2016,” said Yussuff.

A drier-than-usual winter and record-high spring temperatures, coupled with high wind gusts caused the Fort McMurray fire to spread quickly. It displaced almost 90,000 people and many lost their homes. The fire took 15 months to fully extinguish.

Canada’s unions – along with organizations like the Green Economy Network, Blue Green Canada and Canada’s Building Trades – have long fought for a greener economy that puts workers and communities at the centre of any climate change policy.

“Progressive emission-reduction policies must centre around people and communities. Canada’s move to reduce its carbon emissions will impact employment. Adequate supports like re-training are necessary to a successful shift to a greener economy,” said CLC President Hassan Yussuff.

In February, the federal government announced the Terms of Reference for the Just Transition Task Force for Canadian Coal Power Workers and Communities. The Task Force’s mandate is to develop recommendations to influence Canada’s plans to phase-out coal power. Their first meeting is scheduled for this week.

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