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The public sector has a key role to play in fighting climate change and ensuring a just transition towards a greener economy. That is the central message delivered by CUPE National Secretary-Treasurer Charles Fleury at a major event on the sidelines of the Paris Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Climate Change (COP21).

On Thursday, December 3, a large forum – organized jointly by the Canadian Labour Congress, Climate Action Network Canada, and the Green Economy Network – was held in Paris with “One Million Climate Jobs” as its theme. Representatives of unions, environmental groups and other civil society groups from Canada and elsewhere met to discuss Canada’s participation at the conference, as well as ways to protect the environment while maintaining and creating good jobs. The participants discussed concrete plans to create climate jobs for a just transition.

“Unions like CUPE have an indispensable role to play in ensuring that this plan sees the light. Only the trade union movement, with its allies, the social movements, has the leadership and vision to ensure a successful transition, saving the planet for future generations,” said Fleury in his speech.

“At the heart of this plan is the need for all electricity generated in Canada in 2050 to be derived from renewable energy,” continued Fleury. “We need to electrify transport and to develop public transport in a way never seen before. We need to invest heavily in sectors of the economy that are low in carbon and that ensure social cohesion, such as health, education, communication and childcare.”

Trade unions can and must play a leading role in fighting climate change, as well as in a transition marked by fairness and solidarity. Moreover, the public sector is essential in finding and implementing alternatives. CUPE is at the centre of these discussions and is committed to being a part of the solution.