It’s encouraging to hear the Government of Canada is initiating an engagement process for a Just Transition into a low-carbon economy, where all workers will prosper from their labour. AUPE’s Environmental Committee just hopes Ottawa is prepared to listen and engage in real, meaningful consultation with everyday people.
Alberta's economy has long been tied to the fossil fuel sector, making many working families financially dependent on an incredibly volatile industry. Today we are rapidly approaching a tipping point that is forcing the world to transition away from fossil fuels. We have no choice in the matter, but our leaders can choose to protect and support workers in the shift to a low-carbon economy. AUPE’s Environmental Committee says they must. Unfortunately, not all Alberta politicians agree.
"Alberta’s Minister of Energy, Sonya Savage, released a sorely misled statement on July 20, denouncing Trudeau’s Just Transition consultation plan, that fundamentally twisted the facts,” said AUPE Environmental Committee Chair James Sullivan. "A Just Transition is not a call to phase out Canada's oil and gas industry; rather, it’s about prioritizing the wellbeing of workers by creating new and better opportunities for Albertans. It’s about thinking beyond oil & gas.”
Sullivan adds that the industry is drying up, and the world will transition to a low-carbon economy, “with or without Alberta's support.” While investors are pulling money from industries connected to climate-change disasters, oil & gas companies themselves, including those headquartered in Alberta, are setting ambitious net-zero emissions goals. “Everything is changing, and Alberta needs to embrace the new reality, or risk falling behind,” says Sullivan.
Just Transition policies give workers the power to determine their futures by participating in the decisions that affect them. Albertans, and especially workers in the fossil fuel industry, and those whose livelihoods are threatened by climate change, deserve to have their voices heard. A recent poll of fossil fuel industry workers found 67% think Canada needs to take more action to address climate change, 61% believe Canada should pivot towards a net-zero economy, and 69% are interested in switching to a career in the net-zero economy. AUPE’s Environmental Committee fully supports these workers and therefore supports a Just Transition.
In the coming month, we will submit written feedback to Natural Resources Canada on the federal government's proposed Just Transition legislation. We are making it clear that the government must make the low-carbon transition just and equitable to ensure all Canadians fully benefit from these efforts.
AUPE'S Environmental Committee is also calling on Minister Savage to engage in good faith in the Government of Canada's Just Transition consultation. Fossil Fuel workers are not political pawns for the UCP to exploit for their own damaging ideological ends. Oil and gas workers are our friends, spouses, family, and they deserve to have their hard work recognized. They also deserve to have a say in their futures and to resist becoming victims of an industry facing existential threats.
Want to support your Environmental Committee and fellow workers in the fight for a truly Just Transition? Tell the Feds what you want in its Just Transition legislation at https://www.rncanengagenrcan.ca/en/collections/just-transition