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Just Transition to a Low-Carbon Economy in Canada – My Actions
November 3, 2022 | Brent Kelly
Image by Colin Behrens from Pixabay
In an earlier article I explained the basics of a Just Transition in a Canadian context. Alberta, with an oil-dependent economy, has experienced the challenges of ups and downs in the oil and gas market over the past decades. These challenges will continue as Canada moves to a net zero future. In this article I discuss what this means for me as an Albertan, focusing on a just transition.
In my dad’s nearly 30-year career in the oil and gas sector in Alberta he was fortunate to have not been laid off at any point. He is now happily retired, more or less on his own terms despite the 2020 downturn in the sector. There is concern among oil and gas professionals about their livelihoods as Canada and much of the world moves away from carbon-intensive fossil fuels.
Concerns about job security extend beyond the oil and gas sector. A major share of the government revenues in Alberta are sourced from this sector. Provincial government employees, myself included, often worry about layoffs when the price of oil is down. Accordingly, many government employees advocate for policies that would ease the transition. This is an important part of what has motivated me to act as a concerned Albertan.
Context – my actions as a concerned Albertan
Businesses across the world have started to reduce carbon usage – investments in sustainable energy and low-carbon industries are growing every year. The change, though still early, is already underway, and there will be significant economic and human consequences if policymakers do not have supports and plans in place to ensure a smooth transition. We need to support organizations, parties, and leaders who will take serious action on climate change, and who believe in a just transition.
Participation at a union meeting – two important motions
In 2021 I attended my workplace union’s convention. Two important motions where discussed. The first supports a Green New Deal, and the second supports a just transition. I spoke in favor of both motions, and was happy to see my union overwhelmingly support them.
In my remarks, I shared my experience growing up in an oil and gas household, and how I wanted others to enjoy the things I had as the economy transitions. I also shared it was important for us to work together to ensure everyone can continue to enjoy prosperity as our province and economy changes. At some points the debate was a bit tense, as some union members were worried that the motions could be interpreted as opposing the oil and gas industry in the province. Other members addressed these fears by noting the motions were intended to support the workers in oil and gas as the economy changes. My fellow union members and I are proud to say that we support a transition towards reduced carbon emissions and a planned and just transition for carbon-intensive sectors. The employees of the Government of Alberta can say that they advocate for these policies – and this is an important step forward.
There are big changes in the coming years and decades as Canada moves to the target of net zero by 2050. The livelihoods of oil and gas workers will be particularly impacted. It is important for Canadians to understand the nature of this challenge, and the importance of a managed transition to a low-carbon economy. I will continue to work with Alberta colleagues on a just transition. I will also continue my work with Impact Net Zero, explaining the transition and my actions through postings and participation in discussion groups.
Brent Kelly holds a BA and MA in Political Science from the University of Alberta and works at Alberta Environment and Parks. In his spare time he enjoys volunteering for different social justice and environmental initiatives, spending time online and in-person with friends and family, and hiking in the mountains. The views expressed on this site do not reflect those of his employer.