TORONTO, May 6, 2013 /CNW/ - A World Trade Organization ruling against
Ontario's incentives for domestic manufacturing in renewable energy
industries is a signal that global trade rules must be changed, the
United Steelworkers (USW) says.
"Ontario should not give up the struggle for good green jobs," said Ken
Neumann, USW National Director for Canada.
"We should not be allowing unelected bodies to wipe out initiatives that
are good for our climate and good for our economy at the same time,"
The WTO has ruled to strike down the Ontario Green Energy Act's domestic
content requirements for companies seeking to supply wind and solar
power to the provincial electricity grid. The Act requires wind and
solar farms to use a percentage of in-province parts and labour.
"The requirements for a minimum percentage of in-province labour and
equipment spurred a green jobs boom in Ontario," Neumann noted.
"Although the Green Energy Act is not perfect, it has helped to create
an estimated 20,000 jobs and generate billions of dollars in investment
in Ontario," he said.
"This tremendous progress and hope for the future is now threatened by
the WTO ruling."
The WTO ruling supports a joint challenge by Japan and the European
Union against Ontario's Green Energy Act.
"Once finally adopted, this ruling would give Japan and the European
Union the right to slap duties on Ontario exports," Neumann said.
"This is just the latest example of trade agreements being used to
override our sovereignty and our freedom to implement environmental and
economic development initiatives," he added.
"This should not be the end of the fight. The WTO ruling clearly shows
the need to change the direction of trade negotiations to support jobs
and the environment. Our federal and provincial governments must act."
Quebec is being sued for its moratorium on fracking in the St. Lawrence
valley, while a nearly completed agreement between Canada and the
European Union could forbid provinces and municipalities from using
their own purchases to boost local economies, Neumann pointed out.
Working with Blue Green Canada, the USW was an early advocate for the
domestic content rules for companies seeking to supply wind and solar
power to Ontario's grid.
Founded in 2008, Blue Green Canada is an alliance that brings workers
and environmentalists together to show how jobs and sustainability go
hand-in-hand. The alliance, originally formed between the United
Steelworkers and Environmental Defence, now includes the
Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union, the Pembina Institute,
the Columbia Institute and Tides Canada.
Earlier this year, Blue Green joined with other organizations and
submitted an amicus brief to the WTO in support of the Green Energy
SOURCE: United Steelworkers (USW)
For further information:
Ken Neumann, USW National Director, 416-544-5951
Bob Gallagher, USW Communications,416-544-5996, 416-434-2221, firstname.lastname@example.org