June 1, 2009

CLC: “There will be no good jobs on a dead planet”

Jim Harris

By: Jordana Levine

To prevent global warming, Canadian experts call for a 25% reduction below 1990 levels of CO2 emissions by 2020 and 80% below by 2050.  

The CLC Statement on Climate Change was written for the House of Commons regarding Bill C-30: Canada’s Clean Air and Climate Change Act as a recommendation.  It insists, “There will be no good jobs on a dead planet.”

The statement highlights key opportunities to create new jobs that do not generate emissions.  A serious program to retrofit older houses in Canada over 25 years would create 50,000 jobs a year on its own; construction jobs can substitute industrial, polluting jobs.  There could also be opportunities for jobs developing efficient and renewable fuels.  The CLC gives a number of ways that new industries could create more jobs that are kinder to the earth.

The CLC insists on creating strategies to regulate practices, encourage public investment and get the government directly involved through taxes and spending measures.  The government will need to be active, insuring that it makes useful investments that will help us transition to an environmentally sustainable, low-carbon economy.

The CLC calls for eliminating tax subsidies for the oil and gas industry.  Instead, the government should provide companies with tax incentives to invest in equipment that reduces emissions and that there should be a cap-and-trade system to limit emissions. Emissions caps should be lowered as green strategies and tax measures improve and the cost of reducing emissions falls.  The Pembina Institute and other experts calculate that a carbon charge of $30 per tonne would force actual change in an orderly manner.

The report points out that energy-efficient and low-carbon economies are more labour intensive, creating new opportunities for workers, but notes that some sectors will see job loss.  The CLC suggests that a Just Transition fund should be set up, which will compensate workers for loss of money and contribute to retraining them in new, greener fields.

The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) calls for new, effective climate change policies to keep emissions down and provide new jobs centred around environmentally sustainable practices in the workplace.

The CLC brings Canada’s national and international unions, as well as provincial and territorial labour federations and district labour councils.  The members work in nearly every sector, occupation, and area of the country.

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