The well-attended session which took place at the CUPE National Convention, was kicked off by a presentation by CUPE economist Toby Sanger focusing on the effects that climate change is having on both the environment and the economy. Sanger noted that the impacts of climate change are increasing at the same time as economies are stagnating, the quality of jobs is at its lowest level in 25 years and economic inequality is worse than ever before. While acknowledging that coordinated international action is essential to slowing and reversing climate change, Sanger said that a solid emphasis on green jobs in Canada can have an immediate impact as well as improving the economy.
“Public services are inherently green,” Sanger said, and attendees, including members of CUPE’s National Environment Committee, talked about CUPE jobs that are green: wind power workers, water workers, parks and recreation workers, public transit, environmental educators and librarians.
Sanger was followed by Tony Clarke of the Green Economy Network, a coalition of labour and environmental organizations that advocates for greater public investment in renewable energy, green homes and buildings and public transportation. Clarke said that a public investment in those sectors of $75 billion over five years in green jobs would create one million person years of employment and make a significant impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Both Sanger and Clarke encouraged everyone to attend the Leap Rally on Thursday at noon to show their support for immediate action to fight climate change.