Matthew Firth | CUPE Research

In March 2013, CUPE adopted its first National Environment Policy: Working harmoniously on the earth. It spells out CUPE’s position on today’s most urgent environmental issues: climate change, water, energy, waste and environmental toxins, green jobs and greening the workplace.

At a political level, the policy states that CUPE supports actions to cut greenhouse gases that cause climate change, moving “to an economy that favours renewable sources of public energy rather than energy derived from fossil fuels” and for a price to be applied to carbon emissions.

CUPE’s green union policy also calls for greater action in areas where our members can really make a difference: adopting greener work practices in existing CUPE jobs, and a just transition to good green jobs that reduce the environmental harm in the Canadian economy. The policy includes promoting all facets of greening the workplace, through green bargaining language, workplace environmental stewards and committees, workplace environmental policies, green audits and other programs.

CUPE put these policies into practice by quantifying emissions associated with our 2013 National Convention. Despite increased attendance, estimated overall emissions were 31 per cent lower than at the 2011 convention. A high proportion of emissions for convention and CUPE’s ongoing work are related to travel.