Kyoto Pull-Out Sets Canada on Wrong Economic Track, CAW says

December 15, 2011, 9:30 AM EST

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The Harper government's decision to pull Canada out of the Kyoto Protocol is not only a devastating blow to the country's efforts to combat climate change, but it will further hamper the creation of good, value-added jobs in green energy and energy conservation industries, said CAW President Ken Lewenza.

"Stephen Harper is suggesting that Canadians accept a business-as-usual approach to the global climate crisis and is creating a false conflict between economic growth and environmental action that's wrong-headed and unjustified," Lewenza said.

Lewenza said that in the wake of the hollowing out of Canada's industrial sector (particularly in manufacturing), the Kyoto Protocol (and green energy strategies more generally) provides a mechanism for government to maximize the economic opportunities associated with cleaning up industrial pollution, encouraging  innovative carbon-reducing technologies, and stimulating new value-added sectors of our economy. Adapting to a carbon-constrained world actually represents huge job creating potential for Canadians, Lewenza said.

"Many economists, and Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney, have been emphasizing that Canada's economy desperately needs more business capital spending to escape this stubborn recession," Lewenza pointed out.  "What could be better than using supportive regulations and policies to fulfill our Kyoto commitments, even if belatedly, and stimulate major capital spending in energy conservation, green energy, and green transportation?"

"Instead, this government has elected to obstruct global progress on climate change, and put all our economic eggs in the basket of petroleum extraction and export," Lewenza said. "Canada's become an energy resource warehouse to the world.  Yet manufacturing jobs have hit an all-time low, and incomes are stagnant. Canadians clearly aren't benefitting from this short-term strategy. This is shameful."

Lewenza also warned that as Canada's global trading partners continue to move forward on transforming their economies and reducing overall greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuel use, Canada will increasingly be closed out of opportunities.

"Harper's desperately hanging on to a dying economic model that is entirely couched in short-term profiteering. Working people deserve better leadership than this," Lewenza said.

The CAW, along with other Canadian labour unions, supported the ratification and implementation of the Kyoto Accord in 2002. The CAW has since championed efforts to help combat climate change, particularly in the area of transportation; details are described in the CAW's recent major policy statement on sustainable transportation (link below), which was endorsed at the union's recent Council meetings held earlier this month.

Lewenza also urged the federal government to impose tighter regulations on tar sands developments, which have been the dominant source of Canadian emissions growth in recent years.  The union's proposals include prohibition of foreign takeovers of petroleum resources, caps on future emissions growth from the industry, and Canadian content targets for machinery and equipment purchases and bitumen refining.

To download: We Make It Move: A Vision for Sustainable Transportation, visit:

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