We are entering the homestretch here in Copenhagen and the intensity is mounting. As CLC staffer, Andrea Peart put it, “We only have four days left to change the world,” Andrea is organizing the lobbying and media effort for the Canadian labour delegation. However, not much was happening at the Bella Centre today, as Sunday is a day off from public negotiations. Not so for labour at COP 15. Our day was filled with strategy discussions and commitments to continue the work back home.
We started the day with a meeting of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) to take stock and set strategy for the week ahead. There are over 300 ITUC delegates in Copenhagen this week. It was a truly historic moment with so many of us representing workers from across the globe in a single meeting to establish one common goal for this week. That goal? To achieve a fair, ambitious and binding agreement for global action on climate change. Energized with the solidarity and commitment of so many activists, we then headed over to a meeting with Public Services International (PSI). However, on the way we happened upon the opportunity for a little souvenir shopping.
Crossing town, we came across a Danish street vendor selling the “Stephen Harper Potato Masher.” It seems Mr. Harper is the most unwelcome of guests that will be received in Copenhagen this week and the evidence is quite literally the word on the street. The Stephen Harper potato masher is a stainless steel laser cut-out of our Prime Minster. While the street vendor, the many people gathered around and the local television cameras were quite interested in our views as Canadians, we wanted to know how it works. He explained that all you have to do is think about the Harper government’s environmental policies as you push the potatoes down and suddenly the mashing tool becomes quite forceful!
Equipped with our new kitchen gadgets we proceeded to the PSI meeting where we discussed the role of public investment in infrastructure and strengthened quality public services in order to achieve a just transition to a green economy. The impact of climate change and the issues facing us to turn it around are so wide and so varied. From the treatment and delivery of clean water to city planning; from waste pick-up and disposal, to energy production and supply; from health and social services, to green cleaning products in our public facilities; from public investment in innovative technologies, to regulation on technology transfer, it is clear that the public sector is key to effectively and equitably dealing with the impacts of climate change as well as taking the steps to transition to a green economy.
The wealth of the CUPE expertise in Copenhagen matches the difficulty and the diversity of the issues. Carolyn Unsworth from HEU raised the importance of a strengthened health care system to deal with extreme heat waves in a world where water is becoming increasingly commoditized. In addition, we have Charles Fleury from Hydro Quebec on emissions and green power. Nathalie Stringer from Air Transat on the Airline Industry, Robert Coelho an architect from Ryerson on green building design and sustainable construction. And today we were joined by CUPE environment and health and safety researcher, Matthew Firth, to help pull it all together. The issues that are being raised are the issues that we must take on in the post COP 15 world.
But for now, our job is the UN negotiations and working to make sure Stephen Harper and his conservative government doesn’t stop the world from taking real action against climate change. We ended the day putting our final touches on our strategy for the days ahead.
Pam Beattie in Copenhagen