HOW POSTAL WORK­ERS CAN DE­LIVER CLI­MATE CHANGE AC­TION

StarMetro Vancouver - - 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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