Environmental and social justice activist Naomi Klein brought her message of change and renewal to CUPE National Convention in Vancouver. Klein gave a rousing keynote address to the convention delegates and also spoke before more than one thousand CUPE members and civil society activists at a huge climate change rally.

Klein’s newest book This Changes Everything puts the public sector front and centre as a tool for helping veer our society away from its reliance on fossil fuels that cause climate change. Klein is also one of the authors of the related Leap Manifesto, which describes how we can transform our ways of living and working to protect the climate and respect indigenous rights. CUPE signed on to the Manifesto at the first opportunity. Mark Hancock, the newly elected national president of CUPE, Hancock’s predecessor Paul Moist, and Charles Fleury, national secretary-treasurer, spoke about how CUPE and the public sector can work to build a fair and sustainable society where green jobs are good jobs.

Leap ManifestoGreen stewards shared the environmental message throughout convention by encouraging delegates to walk, use public transit, use the convention centre’s environmental features, and conserve. CUPE partnered with CarbonZero to calculate the convention’s greenhouse gas emissions. CUPE is using this data to spearhead our own carbon off-setting program with environmental allies.

In other convention news, Tony Clarke from the Green Economy Network headlined a discussion of how public sector jobs can reduce greenhouse gas emissions. CUPE also committed to working towards an equitable green economy with new policy statements in a section called “Protect the planet” in Strategic Directions 2015-2017. Resolutions were adopted to encourage greater environmental education and to promote green jobs that cut greenhouse gases, preserve fresh public water, and keep our air clean.