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From Vancouver to Paris: Workers Uniting Against Climate Change

There is a great deal to unpack since the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris ended on December 11th. One of the issues to resolve is the labour movement’s involvement in confronting climate change.

One of the forums during the conference, “One Million Green Jobs,” saw CUPE’s National Secretary-Treasurer, Charles Fleury, address the crowd. Fleury reached Paris as part of a delegation of 35 Canadian trade unionists organized by the Canadian Labour Congress and the International Trade Union Congress.

Labour and the environment have historically been pitted against one another. But that’s being challenged by civil society and, increasingly, union representatives. At COP21, Jeremy Corbyn and Naomi Klein made the connection during an event entitled “Trade Unions and Climate Change.” The labour-environmental group, Trade Unions for Energy Democracy, also convened in Paris to tackle this emergent issue. In the United States, one important movement that connects labour with environmentalism is the  BlueGreen Alliance, which involves  Communications Workers of America (CWA), the Laborers International Union of America (LIUNA), the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA), and the Teamsters (IBT). In light of British Columbia’s move to exploit liquified natural gas (LNG) through the process of hydraulic fracturing, Trade Unions Against Fracking is another meaningful initiative.

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