Representatives from nations across the planet are gathering this week and next to address the climate crisis at COP26 (Conference of the Parties) in Glasgow, Scotland. The stakes are high as global emissions continue to climb, despite years of negotiations at this event.
The impacts of climate change are now front and centre in every corner of the world, including Canada. For example, this past summer we experienced record-smashing high temperatures in British Columbia, along with devast devastating wildfires. Floods, fires, droughts, human displacement, water scarcity, heatwaves, accelerating extinction, and a range of other impacts threaten all living things on earth.
CUPE recently updated its national environment policy and bolstered our climate change actions. For example, CUPE will press the federal government to ensure its Net Zero Accountability Act meets required targets. To this point, Canada is an outlier among developed countries, as emissions here have not been cut. CUPE’s policy also calls for national Just Transition legislation and for CUPE to cut its own emissions at least as quickly as what’s called for in new federal legislation.
Climate change solutions are clear. We must act now to transform our energy supply away from fossil fuels to public forms of clean, renewable energy. Public transit, green homes and buildings, high-speed rail, vehicle electrification, recycling, and waste reduction programs (including food waste) must all be enhanced. Nature must be given space to heal and recover. Carbon pricing must ramp up and big polluters must be held accountable, with no loopholes. Workers must be supported with strong Just Transition legislation and strategies to facilitate greener ways of working.
The planet has experienced approximately 1.1℃ of heating above pre-industrial levels. The 2015 Paris Agreement called for an upper limit of 2.0℃ heating by century’s end, with 1.5℃ the more-desired limit. The earth is heating at a pace to blow past these targets.
COP26 is an opportunity to focus on actions to cut emissions. Ambitions, targets, and promises are only meaningful if they’re supported with ambitious and real actions to finally slow climate change and help create a cleaner, greener, and more equitable world for all working people.