Public Transit & Nov. 29th Climate Strike

The bad news:

The climate emergency is real.

Canada is warming at twice the global rate.

There are no jobs on a dead planet.

The good news:

The climate crisis presents an opportunity to fundamentally renegotiate the society we live in to build prosperity and justice for all.

Public transit is the most sustainable form of mass transportation and therefore it must be a central tenant in climate action frameworks and in a vision for a liveable future

Canadian transit reduces annual Greenhouse gas emissions by 4.7 million tonnes (Canadian Urban Transit Association [CUTA], 2019).

Transit worker jobs are green jobs. ATU Canada members are frontline climate action workers. Transit jobs represent a confluence of a good job and a green one— transit jobs build better lives and sustainable futures.

transit workers are climate action workers

A sign from the Global Climate Strike on September 27th in Las Vegas

ATU Canada recognizes the urgency of the climate change crisis. We want to be leaders in the fight for a made-in-Canada Green New Deal and a Just Transition to a carbon-less economy.

ATU Canada also recognizes the inevitable adjustment of the future workforce to accommodate environmentally advantageous technologies. Complete electrification of public transit fleets is a realistic goal in the next 10-20 years that will contribute to the goal of achieving the greatest green house gas emissions reductions at the lowest cost (Clean Energy Canada et al., 2016).

ATU Canada advocates for the adoption of electric buses, under the approach that “No Worker will be Left Behind” in the transition. We have an opportunity as unionists to match our knowledge of our workplaces with management's authority to improve conditions for workers and riders.

ATU has been engaging in conversations about Green New Deal; at the Convention in September delegates passed a resolution backing Green New Deal legislation. In Canada, ATU Canada supported federal candidates who have been recognized as champions of a Green New Deal, like Matthew Green (Hamilton Centre) and Leah Gazan (Winnipeg Centre).

This week, ATU Organizer, Madelin, attended a climate justice coalition launch meeting with the Toronto & York Region District Labour Council, and labour and community partners. Coalitions like this one are building across Canada.

A key objective of the labour movement is working toward climate justice, that is, tackling climate change while addressing systemic discrimination. This will require workplace transformation, and fundamentally will require changing everything.

A Message From the Future With Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (US Democratic Representative) on what is possible if we change everything

What could a Green New Deal look like for transit?

  • A Green New Deal will include affordable (or even fare-free!), accessible, reliable, safe, and public transit for all residents of Canada
  • A Green New Deal for transit workers will include good wages, benefits, pensions, and training to support the transition to an electrified transportation industry

So what's next? As a first step, we can continue to show solidarity with the youth climate strikers. On November 29th, another youth-led climate strike will take to the streets globally. The symbolism of striking on "Black Friday" is meant to challenge our culture of capitalism and forced, mass consumerism. 

Let's bring labour's presence to the climate strikes on November 29th!