EDMONTON — At the union’s annual Convention—its highest democratic decision-making body—AUPE’s delegates showed immense support for their Environmental Committee’s three resolutions which, together, aim to start a serious conversation about how organized labour can respond to the accelerating climate crisis.
Their vote in favour of building a community-focused, eco-justice plan in the home of the world’s largest bitumen deposits, comes on the heels of the 26th annual Conference of Parties (COP26) conference in Glasgow, where world leaders attempted to chart a course out of the climate crisis. Members of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) are now adding to the blueprint.
“We know that working people need to be front and centre in the fight against climate change,” says AUPE Environmental Committee Chair James Sullivan, “and unions can provide essential space to debate strategy and vision. It’s a model of democracy by and for working people—which is exactly what we need to address the climate crisis.”
The resolutions, which AUPE has now adopted, demand a just transition, a green new deal, and for AIMCo to begin charting a course towards a net-zero investment strategy. A summary of the three resolutions can be found at the bottom of this media release. The goal of these measures, Sullivan says, is to get union members thinking about how they can take the reins of the climate transition.
“This is what democratic climate planning looks like. The climate transition can’t be a top-down plan imposed by suit-wearing politicians on the rest of us. Working people need to have a major role in planning. The process needs to be democratic, or it’s doomed to fail. And when it comes to climate change, we can’t afford failure.”
Just transition: In Alberta, a huge section of the workforce relies, directly or indirectly, on the fossil fuel industry. A “just transition” towards climate stability means that those workers will need to have a voice in the decision-making process for how the transition is planned and be provided significant supports during the transition process.
“No worker should be left behind in the climate transition,” Sullivan says. “A just transition is about building the structure to ensure that reality.”
Green new deal: If a just transition is about how we move towards sustainability, a green new deal is about what sustainability looks like. It means good, union jobs for working people, through an expanded public sector. It means modernizing public infrastructure to adapt to climate change. It means recognizing Indigenous rights and treaties and building a society that is not only ecologically sustainable, but also socially fair.
“The climate transition can’t take place without a social transition,” Sullivan says. “We need to build an economy that respects the limits of the earth and provides dignity for all working people. A green new deal is a vision of that society that we can build together.”
AIMCo’s path to net-zero: Pension funds like AIMCo are major institutional investors, and workers pay into them with every check. With all their market-making power, pension funds could be used as a tool in the climate transition. AUPE’s environmental committee proposes that the fund begin to quantify the climate risks of its investments and adopt a path to net-zero.
“Pensions are some of the most hard-fought gains that working people have ever won,” Sullivan says. “It’s up to us to make sure that those pensions are stable. Quantifying climate risk would help achieve that.”
For more information, contact:
Celia Shea, Communications, 780-720-8122