Substantial state-level action is needed now to address carbon emissions and climate change. Without immediate and firm commitments to action, Canada will continue to pass the buck to future generations where necessary action will be even more difficult and expensive to enact.
This can be a tricky issue for some unions, but it should be viewed as an opportunity for labour to take the lead towards a healthier and greener country. The focus of the labour movement needs to be on how to address the democratic deficit in the management of energy markets. If public, democratically driven, subsidized and regulated energy markets can be established, then differences in corporate structures between renewable energy cooperatives, national, municipal or individual owned companies become easier to deal with.
We know that private energy markets will not drive this transition fast enough, nor will the transition provide universal benefits. And, given the current liberalized market, cooperatives and public companies will remain at a significant disadvantage as private corporations continue to out-earn and out-grow more ethical structures of ownership.
Unions need to be clear that “enery democracy” refers to democratic control over markets and opposition to financialization and corporatization within these markets.
The next opportunity for labour unions to help lead this agenda is through the Trade Unions for Energy Democracy who will be hosting an international trade union climate summit in New York on June 29.