CANADA AT COP21: POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS FROM THE CANADIAN LABOUR CONGRESS AND CIVIL SOCIETY:

With Canada’s new political climate coinciding with the run-up to the Paris COP21 meetings from November 30 to December 11, there has been a flood of energy and climate policy documents from Canada’s think tanks and advocacy groups. Some examples: Broadbent Institute and Mowat Centre, Step Change: Federal Policy Ideas towards a Low-Carbon Canada  ;    Climate Action Network (CAN), A Paris Package that shows Canada Cares ; the David Suzuki Foundation statement , which endorses the CAN priorities; Powering Climate Prosperity     from the Canadian Council on Renewable Electricity, and “A Clean Energy Agenda for Canada”  in IRPP’s Policy Options (October), written by Dan Woynillowicz of Clean Energy Canada. Resource economist Marc Jaccard  also writes in Policy Options (November), with his views that emissions targets are not as important as the right policies, and “ Everything else is fluff, including government spending programs.”

On November 18, the Canadian Labour Congress released CLC’s COP21 Statement which inserts workers’ needs in this climate discussion. The statement includes a thorough statement of why Labour cares, and what the CLC demands: “The CLC will strongly advocate for compensation, retraining, re-employment and relocation for affected workers and their communities, and demands Just Transition commitments to support those workers who risk being displaced by climate change or by climate change policies and mitigation measures. …. Carbon reduction policies must be combined with progressive tax and expenditure policies and the establishment of Just Transition funds.  These funds should be governed by an independent Just Transition board with labour representation…… The CLC calls on Canada to commit to a legally binding target to cut our domestic carbon pollution by 17% below 2005 levels by 2020 and 38% by 2030, returning it to the trajectory of achieving 80% reductions by 2050. …The Canadian labour movement supports a national cap and trade carbon-pricing system, which will serve to set a maximum emission level, in line with the overall national targets. In many cases, emission reduction activities would result in modernizing plants and improving workers’ health and safety….. The CLC calls on Canada to commit $400 million annually to the Green Climate Fund, and recognize the legitimacy of developing country calls for additional funding, not through the Green Climate Fund, for losses and damage resulting from climate change.”

BlueGreen Canada also sent a specific request to the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change stating, “… we urge you to keep Just Transition and Decent Work language in the preamble and operational Articles of the future Paris Agreement, as stated in the bracketed section of Article 2, Option 1 of the draft agreement and decision from October 23, 2015.”

Other avenues for civil society input: the 100% Possible March  in Ottawa on November 29 , planned and organized by a “Who’s Who” of Canadian environmental advocacy , including many labour organizations – CAPE,CLC, CSN, CSQ, FTQ, IATSE,OSSTF, PIPSC, and PSAC.   An international Virtual People’s Climate March is also being organized for November 29, especially important in light of the restrictions on demonstrations in Paris.

In the first such meeting in seven years, Canada’s Premiers met with Canada’s Prime Minister in Ottawa on November 23   . Two topics are on the agenda: Syrian refugees, and the Canadian position at the UN negotiations at COP21 in Paris, to which the Premiers were invited. To follow developments at COP21 from a Canadian perspective, see Simon Fraser University’s Clean Energy Canada analysis  , or the National Observer “Road to Paris” series . The official UNFCC COP21 website is here .

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