On February 28th, the leading climate scientists of the world (270 of them from 67 countries) told us (again) that if we don’t rapidly transition away from fossil fuels now, our future is unfathomably difficult—it is hungry, it is sick, it is war-torn, it is expensive. We truly are running out of time.
Yet, from coast to coast, the oil and gas industry and lobbyists at various levels of government across Canada are amplifying their push for increased fossil fuel production. The reasons they state are not invalid on the surface. Yes, fuel costs are high; Yes, we’re scared about the situation with Russia; Yes, people need jobs—but we cannot continue to go down this path. Fossil fuels have led us into this mess and fossil fuels will not get us out. It’s a simple equation: more oil and gas = more emissions = more climate change = more devastating impacts across the globe (including threats to cost of living, national security, and local economies, among many others).
It isn’t about individual projects or provinces—humanity is at an existential fork in the road, and every decision we make matters. Every kilogram of greenhouse gas emissions released anywhere in the world increases the frequency and severity of fire, drought, flooding, and extreme heat right here in Manitoba. If we don’t collectively cut ties with fossil fuels now, we may not be able to adapt to the magnitude of disruption that will come.
Luckily, there is an alternative to continued fossil fuel dependence. This alternative has been termed a Just Transition—massive and rapid investments in decarbonization that provide energy justice and security for all, create countless green jobs, support previous oil and gas workers, and increase equity across our society.
- Roll-out of widespread, safe, convenient, and free public transit
- Massive effort to retrofit all buildings in Canada (including switching our natural gas heating systems to geothermal and heat pumps), reducing energy bills and increasing comfort for everyone
- Land back to Indigneous peoples; sovereignty, reconciliation, and respect
- Large-scale wind and solar energy projects that clean up the grid all across Canada
- Focus on the health and well-being of all people, including vulnerable and marginalized groups, rather than the profit of corporations
- Support for regenerative agriculture and restoration and protection of ecosystems
Sounds good, right? We can do all of these things (there’s a plan for Manitoba, in fact, the Road To Resilience), We just have to decide when.
In 2019, the Government of Canada promised to legislate a Just Transition Act, but, unfortunately, that has not occurred yet. As a consequence, the Council of Canadians launched a parliamentary paper petition campaign last fall to push Members of Parliament to speak about the need for a Just Transition Act in the House of Commons. To date, 10 MPs across the political spectrum have tabled the petition in parliament and over 20 have agreed to do so—including one (so far) in MB.
According to a poll released in October 2018 by Abacus Data, two-thirds of Canadians want Ottawa to enact a just transition law, take meaningful and rapid climate action, phase-out fossil fuel subsidies, and increase renewable energy investments.
This sentiment is being demonstrated this month as more than 40 local communities across Canada answered 350.org and the Council of Canadians’ call to organize events for a Day of Action for a Just Transition on March 12, 2022. There are two events planned in Winnipeg:
10:30 am at Member of Parliament Jim Carr’s Office (611 Corydon Ave)
12:00 pm at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (85 Israel Asper Way
These events aim to illustrate what a Just Transition would mean for us all by celebrating the mock-opening of Winnipeg offices of a Federal Ministry for a Just Transition. Such a ministry may not exist yet, but together we can show our leaders what we want and paint a picture of the better world (and the better Canada) that is possible. No one left behind.
On March 12th, join your community, alongside friends across the country, in demonstrating to the federal government what an enormous opportunity lies right before them. Bring signs and art, bring friends and family, and most of all, bring enthusiasm and hope.
Imagine if two-thirds of us showed up.
If you can’t make it to an event, write to your MP, find a petition to sign, learn about it, talk about it. Everything we do matters.
The destabilization of our climate systems and perpetuation of social injustice is a choice. The time for a Just Transition is now.
Manitoba Energy Justice Coalition
March 10th, 2022