Heavy lifting ahead if premiers' words are to mean something
Canada's only green-labour organization says we're in this together
HALIFAX, July 27, 2012 /CNW/ - Blue Green Canada, the country's only national voice that brings workers and environmentalists together, said some heavy lifting is ahead if the premiers' energy promise today will matter.
Blue Green said while the promise of a plan that cuts emissions and embraces efficiency and renewable energy is welcome, these can't happen if narrow oil interests get their way. It said B.C.'s decision to not participate in the plan is unfortunate because the province's environment, like Ontario's and Quebec's, is threatened if powerful oil interests continue to dominate.
"This week, we saw the hollowness of the oil industry's line," said Gillian McEachern from Environmental Defence. "It's patently false that questioning what the oil industry wants is anti-West. Just ask the premier of British Columbia.
"It's also false to pretend that Canadians have to choose between jobs and the environment. We can and should create jobs by doing what's good for the environment," she said. McEachern noted that per dollar invested, renewable energy creates three times the jobs as fossil fuel.
Dave Coles, national president of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union (CEP), the union representing thousands of workers in the oil sector, agreed.
"The question isn't if Canada will use oil for some time to come. We will. But we can be an energy superpower in more diverse ways than just oil, and it's long past time for premiers to embrace efficiency and renewable energy to put more Canadians to work.
"The fact is, the promise to cut emissions can't be kept if the only energy interest premiers listen to is oil. Some intellectual honesty is required because we can't tackle climate change while allowing oil production to triple," Coles said.
A large manufacturing union, the United Steelworkers, said workers want the jobs that building clean energy infrastructure will bring. But it will take leadership from the premiers to foster them, with the federal government openly doing the oil industry's bidding.
"Good jobs will be created if we build ways to get clean energy into provinces that rely on coal. They'll also be created if we make buildings more efficient and get serious about public transit," said Ken Neumann, the Steelworkers' national director. "If the premiers are serious about cutting emissions, they need to embrace these solutions and do it soon."
Blue Green Canada said it will be paying close attention, and expects provinces to have specific plans about energy efficiency, renewable energy and ways to cut carbon pollution before energy ministers meet in September.
"Canadians don't want our economic and environmental priorities decided by and for powerful oil interests. We've got to make the transition to clean energy and the jobs it brings sooner, not later. Big oil wants more pipelines and emissions, but premiers today committed to lower emissions and Canadians want in on that conversation," said McEachern.
About Blue Green Canada:
Founded in 2008, Blue Green Canada brings workers and environmentalists together to show how jobs and sustainability go hand-in-hand. The alliance plans to ramp up efforts around a real energy strategy for more jobs and fewer emissions this year. More information can be found at www.bluegreencanada.ca
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