HOW POSTAL WORKERS CAN DELIVER CLIMATE CHANGE ACTION

StarMetro Edmonton - - BIG OPINIONS -

WHAT IF WE ACTED AS IF THE CLIMATE CRISIS WAS AN EMERGENCY?

This week, the world’s lead­ing climate sci­en­tists laid it on the line: cat­a­strophic warm­ing will rip our so­ci­eties apart, sooner than any­one imag­ined, un­less we trans­form our econ­omy and in­dus­tries at light­ning speed.

Yes, it’s ter­ri­fy­ing. But this alarm bell could also cat­alyze a leap — to a climate and jobs pol­icy that ac­tu­ally meets the mea­sure of this his­toric mo­ment, and builds a bet­ter fu­ture for all.

First, we need to move be­yond the failed in­cre­men­tal­ism of our cur­rent ap­proach. The climate deal that Ot­tawa ne­go­ti­ated with the prov­inces was never any­where near am­bi­tious enough to meet our Paris com­mit­ments. And now the po­lit­i­cal right is wag­ing war on Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau’s cen­tre­piece car­bon tax — which, ac­cord­ing to the UN In­ter­gov­ern­men­tal Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), is way too low to do the job.

But what if we acted as if the climate crisis was an emergency? As if our lives de­pended on a rapid tran­si­tion to re­new­ables and a pub­lic sphere ca­pa­ble of pro­tect­ing all of us from the com­ing storms? We’d bring ev­ery re­source, ev­ery worker, all of our in­ge­nu­ity and cre­ativ­ity to bear on so­lu­tions that would launch this great tran­si­tion; poli­cies that would un­leash a rapid en­ergy tran­si­tion while at the same time cat­alyz­ing large num­bers of truly green jobs — pri­or­i­tiz­ing those who need work the most. And that’s ex­actly what Canada’s postal workers are do­ing.

That’s right — you may only see postal workers in the news dur­ing labour con­flicts. But the fact is that Canada’s postal workers are not only ad­vanc­ing gen­uine climate so­lu­tions, but putting them squarely on the bar­gain­ing ta­ble.

On Leap Day in 2016, the three of us were in Ot­tawa to launch a bold pro­posal called De­liv­er­ing Com­mu­nity Power — a vi­sion of the post of­fice as the hub of eco­nomic and en­ergy tran­si­tion in Canada. CUPW has ad­vanced key planks of the plan in its ne­go­ti­a­tions with Canada Post, and the CPAA, the union rep­re­sent­ing over 8,000 post­mas­ters and as­sis­tants in more than 3,000 ru­ral post of­fices, is an en­thu­si­as­tic part­ner.

Here’s the pitch. The post of­fice is the largest re­tail and lo­gis­tics net­work in Canada: there are more post of­fices across the coun­try than Tim Hor­tons. It also boasts the largest ve­hi­cle fleet. Green­ing Canada Post would have an im­me­di­ate na­tional im­pact.

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TORONTO STAR FILE PHOTO

An am­bi­tious plan has been de­vel­oped to green Canada Post’s mas­sive fleet of trucks that will act as a cat­a­lyst for other changes.

Mike Pale­cek, Brenda McAu­ley and Avi Lewis

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