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Canada is neither reducing its greenhouse gas emissions nor shifting to a sustainable economy with green jobs. This election gives us a chance to change this.

CUPE and the NDP agree that Canada must reduce its greenhouse gas emissions [PDF] to 25 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020 and 80 per cent below 1990s level by 2050.

The next Federal government must lead rather than sabotage the Bali roadmap negotiations, scheduled for Copenhagen in 2009.

This process, will determine the future of international efforts to halt climate change after the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.

Four former Prime Ministers (Clark, Campbell, Turner, Martin), along with 60 prominent Canadians, have released a document criticizing Harper’s inaction. Entitled “Time to Get Serious on Climate Change”, it calls for a $30-a-ton price tag on emissions, as well as a “staggering” investment in green technologies.

The Sierra Club has also given the Conservatives a failing grade for its climate change policies.

Earlier this week, NDP leader Jack Layton slammed the Conservatives’ fast-track approval of tar sands development projects.

The NDP has its own plan for tomorrow’s green economy including:

  • expanded national green building and retrofit programs, to reduce CO2 emissions massively and create thousands of jobs
  • grants and training spaces for green-collar jobs
  • new training partnerships with Provincial and Territorial Governments and with First Nations
  • new labour market tools to measure needs and gaps in the new energy sector

Such measures are consistent with a policy paper and a resolution adopted by the 2008 Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) Convention. They advocate swift and decisive action to avert catastrophic climate change and prepare a strong, green economy:

  • adopting a cap and trade system to ensure big polluters pay for their climate damaging practices;
  • promoting energy efficiency;
  • investing in rail and mass transit infrastructures;
  • accelerating the development of renewable energy sources;
  • deploying a Just Transition program for workers affected by losses of job in the “old” economy

Meanwhile, things are moving in the United States: The Apollo Alliance, a coalition of business, labour, environmental, and community leaders, hopes to create 2 million green jobs in 2 years.

And the Centre for American Progress, a coalition of labour and environment groups, has just released a Green Recovery program.

Canada needs to go from laughing stock to leadership on the environment. Take this opportunity to vote for electoral change, not climate change.