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At COP21, oil sands worker urges smooth transition off fossil fuels

An unlikely climate change hero stood up at the Paris climate summit to urge the sunset of Canada’s oil sands industry on Tuesday. He was neither an impassioned environmentalist, nor a panicked climatologist, but a 55-year-old Suncor heavy equipment mechanic from Fort McMurray, Alberta.

“We hope we’re seeing the end of fossil fuels for the good of everybody,” Ken Smith said into the microphone to a hushed room. “But how are we going to provide for our families?”

The father and tradesman, who also heads Unifor Local 707A, told a Canadian crowd at COP21 that oil workers “get it” about global warming. But if slowing down the industry is part of Canada’s response, then don’t leave workers behind in the process, he said.

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