From the opening day with a media conference highlighting the pitfalls of agreements like the Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA) between Alberta and B.C., to the hundreds of people who stopped by CUPE’s booth, engaged in discussions with CUPE’s national officers and staff and picked up samples of CUPE research, to the more than 400 members who attended a reception hosted by CUPE where the winner of this year’s grand CUPE prize was announced, CUPE’s participation at the 2007 FCM was deemed a great success.
Congratulations to Bradley MacLeod, a councillor from the Municipality of the District of Guysborough in Nova Scotia who, courtesy of CUPE and WE Travel, will travel anywhere in North America. And CUPE will pay the carbon offset as one small way of supporting efforts to contribute to research on climate change.
In fact, CUPE’s FCM reporters noted that the single concern which dominated seminars, talks, study sessions and discussions in the hallways at this year’s FCM was the issue of the environment and climate change.
As Toronto Mayor David Miller said, local governments are at the front lines and are well placed to lead on environmental changes. Miller discussed the wide range of things Toronto has done to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve the environment.
For instance, the Toronto Atmospheric Fund has financed hundreds of different initiatives to combat climate change and improve air quality. These initiatives have saved the City almost $3 million a year, created hundreds of good jobs, reduced greenhouse gas emissions by over 200,000 tonnes, and improved air quality. This fund also served as a model for the Clinton Climate Change Fund.
“It’s a win, win, win, win situation,” said mayor Miller about initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
CUPE also spoke to two mayors of cities at the forefront of the impacts of climate change.
Mayor Nate Bello has seen the forests all around Quesnel, B.C. devastated by the pine beetle spreading because of warmer winters, which has destroyed about $10 billion worth of trees in the province.
The devastation has meant lots of short-term jobs to cut and process the dead trees, but once this is gone, up to 4,000 jobs will be in jeopardy out of a total workforce of 12,000.
Bello and councillors in Quesnel are very actively pursuing potential cutting edge opportunities, such as biodiesel refineries, to create new potential new jobs for the town, improve the environment, and preserve public services.
Mayor Elisapee Sheutiapik talked about the many different effects that climate change has had on her Arctic city of Iqaluit.
Global warming has started to weaken the permafrost, the foundation upon which houses, buildings, water pipes and other infrastructure are built. Shorter winters and less ice mean that it is much harder for Inuit hunters to get their traditional foods, which can cause increasing health problems.
The city has built a sustainable housing subdivision that is much more environmentally friendly, better able to cope with the impacts of climate change, and supportive of Inuit cultural traditions. The community is also actively pursuing new opportunities, such as building a deep sea port beside so local artists and others can benefit from selling to the increasing number of cruise ships that are traveling to through the Arctic waters.