CAW President tells Environment Minister to Show Leadership, Get Climate Deal
Done in Copenhagen

TORONTO, Dec. 3 /CNW/ - CAW President Ken Lewenza is calling on the federal government to enter UN climate talks in Copenhagen on December 7 with a clear mandate to reach a new international climate deal, that includes aggressive emission reduction targets and language that protects workers negatively impacted by job loss.

"Canada must now show leadership, both at home and internationally, to ensure the international community can collectively make the successful transformation toward sustainability," Lewenza said in a December 3 letter to federal Environment Minister Jim Prentice.

The Canadian government has received a wave of international criticism in recent weeks, including from UN Secretary Ban-ki Moon, on its poor performance in dealing with climate change.

Lewenza said that the Canadian experience during the recent period of global economic and environmental transformation has so far been dismal, with over half a million jobs lost and growing insecurity, instability and precariousness in the labour market.

"Our federal government has made few meaningful inroads in developing clean energy technologies and implementation strategies," Lewenza said.

"The global economic crisis has provided (the federal) government the opportunity to advance an agenda that both tackles our environmental crisis and rebuilds our economy on the basis of sustainability. But this opportunity clearly has not been seized, and to the detriment of all Canadians."

Lewenza has joined with other trade union leaders in Canada and around the world in calling for a strong global climate deal to be reached during the Copenhagen talks that will succeed the Kyoto Protocol when it expires in 2012.

"This new deal must put the world on a clear path toward sustainability that will ensure the survival of all peoples."

A full copy of the letter is attached below.

    
    December 3, 2009

    The Honourable Jim Prentice                   Via Fax: 819-953-0279
    Minster of the Environment
    Les Terrasses de la Chaudière
    10 Wellington Street, 28th Floor
    Gatineau, QC   K1A 0H3

    Dear Minister Prentice,

    On behalf of the over 225,000 CAW members across Canada I am writing to
    encourage you, and your team of negotiators, to ensure a new global
    climate agreement is reached during the UNFCCC/COP15 talks in Copenhagen
    this year.

    Canada's approach heading in to these negotiations has so far been
    disappointing, despite the fact that a new climate deal appears
    increasingly within reach. Prime Minister Stephen Harper's insistence
    that achieving a legally binding climate deal in Copenhagen is an
    unrealistic goal is entirely counterproductive and signifies a lack of
    ambition on Canada's part to tackle this vitally important issue.

    Never before has there been a more urgent need for the international
    community to come together and negotiate a legally-binding and aggressive
    deal to sustainably adapt to the harmful and devastating effects of
    global climate change. Not only must this deal follow the science-based
    targets for emission reductions (25-40% emission reductions by 2020 and
    at least 80% reductions by 2050 at 1990 levels) set by the
    Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) it must be fair, just
    and equitable.

    As a successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol, this new deal must put
    the world on a clear path toward sustainability that will ensure the
    survival of all peoples. It must also work to ensure the preservation of
    all societies, especially those most vulnerable. Additionally, as one of
    its core tenets, the deal must establish aggressive language that
    maintains the integrity of jobs for all working people faced with
    displacement caused by climate change.

    Unfortunately, during this most recent period of global economic and
    environmental transformation the experience in Canada has so far been
    dismal. Over half of a million Canadians have lost their jobs in the past
    year alone and few are able to find decent, stable work. At the same time
    Canada's carbon footprint has continued to grow. Prior to the recent
    global economic recession emission levels were situated at an
    embarrassing 22% above 1990 levels - well above our country's Kyoto
    emission reduction commitments of 6% below 1990 levels.

    Our federal government has made few meaningful inroads in developing
    clean energy technologies and implementation strategies. They have
    watched as our once world-leading manufacturing sector has been whittled
    away without fully utilizing existing capacity to invest in new green
    manufacturing opportunities, including new green car production. And they
    have not heeded the call for a substantial injection of funds to boost
    public infrastructure, including transit, at a level that will have a
    substantial and positive impact on working people.

    The global economic crisis has provided your government the opportunity
    to advance an agenda that both tackles our environmental crisis and
    rebuilds our economy on the basis of sustainability. But this opportunity
    clearly has not been seized, and to the detriment of all Canadians.

    Canada must now show leadership, both at home and internationally, to
    ensure the international community can collectively make the successful
    transformation toward sustainability. As we approach the final round of
    UN climate talks, in accordance with the negotiating timeline laid out in
    Bali in 2007, a strong and ambitious climate agreement in Copenhagen will
    be a vital and necessary start.

    Additionally, as you head into negotiations over the coming weeks, I urge
    you to ensure any new climate deal maintains the call for "just
    transition for the workforce which creates decent work and quality jobs"
    as it currently appears in the draft negotiating text under paragraph 9
    of the Shared Vision Non Paper (No.43).

    I also encourage you to add a definition of "stakeholders" or "civil
    society", following the agreed definitions from Agenda 21, as a means to
    recognize trade unions as relevant stakeholders in these international
    negotiations.

    In respect to both of these demands, our union stands in solidarity with
    other trade unions in Canada and around the world.

    The debate on the existence of climate change is over. We are seeing
    first hand the severe environmental consequences of a business-as-usual
    approach to unsustainable levels of carbon emissions in the atmosphere.
    From melting ice caps in the Arctic, to increasing severe weather
    patterns around the world, to the steadily declining land mass and
    eventual extinction of small island states, our fragile ecosystems will
    not wait for world leaders to make the necessary effort to effectively
    combat this global crisis.

    Canada has been at the forefront of many important global initiatives in
    the past, including our brave stance on the Landmine Ban Treaty and the
    Montreal Protocol on reversing ozone depletion in 1987. Now is the time
    to reflect on those victories and chart a new course that re-examines
    Canada's current role in multilateral and diplomatic efforts.

    Canada must commit to play a leadership role in the international climate
    negotiations through the UNFCCC. And our negotiators must be given a
    clear mandate to reach a meaningful climate deal in Copenhagen.

    I anticipate your support of these proposals during the upcoming round of
    climate negotiations at COP15 and in working with the CAW and other trade
    unions in Canada to address this crucial issue of climate change and
    transition support measures for workers.

    I look forward to your reply and am happy to discuss this matter with you
    at your earliest convenience.

    Sincerely,

    (signed)
    Ken Lewenza
    President, CAW

    KL/AD/jwcope343

    cc:    David McGuinty, Liberal Party Environment and Energy Critic
           Linda Duncan, NDP Environment Critic
           Bernard Bigras, Bloc Quebecois Environment Critic
           Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada
           Ken Georgetti, Canadian Labour Congress President
           CAW National Executive Board
           Assistants to the President
    

SOURCE Canadian Auto Workers Union (CAW)

For further information: For further information: Angelo DiCaro, CAW Communications, (416) 606-6311; or Peggy Nash, Assistant to the CAW National President, (416) 333-8097

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Canadian Auto Workers Union (CAW)

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