HOW POSTAL WORKERS CAN DELIVER CLIMATE CHANGE ACTION
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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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