A GREEN ECONOMY NETWORK
WORKING TOGETHER FOR SUSTAINABILITY, JOBS AND FAIRNESS
The world is facing unprecedented environmental challenges. Our continuing production of greenhouse gases is leading to climate change that threatens to disrupt human life as we know it. We are heavily dependent on fossil fuels that are increasingly expensive and environmentally-damaging.
At the same time, we face challenges to our economic sustainability. In Canada, the current downturn is only the latest phase of the ongoing structural deterioration of the Canadian economy. Over the last four decades, we have become a more unequal society, and most Canadians have become more insecure. Over the last decade, our manufacturing base has been steadily eroded and our economy has become increasingly dependent on unstable commodity exports and speculative financial bubbles.
It is essential that we move to a greener, more stable and fairer economy - an economy that will protect our environment, provide secure employment to sustain families and communities, and will get us out of the fossil-fuel energy trap. And we need to do it in a way that is fair - that equitably shares both the burdens and the gains of that change.
It will not be simple or easy to make the fundamental changes that will be needed. Since our economy is market-based, we need to use price mechanisms and the market to help facilitate the change. But we can’t just leave the direction of change to the unregulated corporate-driven marketplace. Frankly, that’s what got us to where we are.
Corporations and markets have no long-term vision. They are driven only by narrow, short-term profit-making. They can ignore damage that they don’t have to immediately and directly pay for. Fairness and the long-term future of the planet are not on their radar screen.
That’s why we need progressive public policies to build a better world. And it is essential that unions and other groups representing ordinary Canadians be actively involved, so that we do what needs to be done, and it is done fairly.
For unions, becoming active allows us to be part of positive change, not only trying to save jobs and protect our members, but also building a new economy that will provide good jobs in the future. With strong industrial policies, we can rebuild our manufacturing sector in fields like sustainable energy and transport.
We need to create new industries, but we also need to support changes that make existing industries more sustainable. For the IAM, where many of our members are involved in aviation and aerospace, it can mean working to make the air travel more fuel-efficient – through aircraft re-design, improved maintenance, scheduling and routing. This means investing in technologies and training so that the existing and new jobs are secure and well-paid, and in Canada.
Significant change can mean major job displacement, putting a particularly heavy burden on some groups of workers and their communities. The IAM and other unions have long argued that needed environmental change must be accompanied by Just Transition programs – programs that help affected workers and communities to adapt, survive and grow.
The IAM in Canada, along with the Canadian Labour Congress and several other unions, has joined with major Canadiaan environmental groups and community organizations to set up a Green Economy Network – to work together to build a green economy, based on fairness and equity. The GEN will be coming forward with proposals in the coming year to ensure that Canadian workers are leaders, not victims, of environmental sustainability.
Introducing the Green Economy Network, a new partnership between environmental organizations, labour and social justice groups in Canada. Check it out.