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Vic Sahai - Federal Candidate

Kingston and the Islands

The Great Transition: Climate Jobs, Climate Justice

June 23, 2021

This is the longest blog post I will write, because climate change is simply the greatest challenge facing humanity. It’s a game changer for us all. We must rise to the challenge and lead where other political parties have failed, with bold actions that will create hundreds of thousands of sustainable jobs, meet our emissions targets, and ensure social justice. A Just Recovery for All from Covid-19 is an opportunity to leap into the great transition to a post-carbon way of life.

The Science is Clear

Greenhouse gases (GHGs), like carbon dioxide, drive climate change by trapping heat in our atmosphere like a blanket. We need this blanket, or else the Earth would be an ice cube. But if we make the blanket too “thick”, by adding too many GHGs, we cook. These gases come from our dependence on fossil fuels burned for electricity, transportation, heating and manufacturing; cutting and burning forests; and from industrial agriculture (e.g. methane from factory-farmed animals). 

Scientists agree: our current path leads towards 4C average global warming, compared to pre-industrial levels, by 2100. We are already seeing the effects today of a 1C increase. Brutal heat waves, fires, droughts, superstorms, floods, mudslides and the extinction of more and more species would become normal, as the heat rises. Polar and glacial melting would cause sea levels to rise by many meters, displacing hundreds of millions from coastlines and island nations. The farmers we depend upon would struggle to feed the world. The U.S. Pentagon warns that without serious action on climate, tens of millions of “climate refugees” would be displaced and more global conflicts would erupt. 

We must get to net-zero emissions (i.e. any new GHGs added balanced by GHGs captured/taken out of the atmosphere) as quickly as humanly possible. We cannot do this alone. Canada and 190 other countries set goals for cutting GHGs fast enough to limit global average temperature rises to 2C, and hopefully 1.5C, in the 2015 Paris Agreement. That’s the upper-limit for a relatively stable planet. There will be hardships, but we can work to adapt.

Systems Change – 500,000 Climate Jobs in 5 Years

Climate change demands systems change. The NDP is the only party that truly brings together the social, economic and environmental justice movements. We are the only party with a long-history of fighting the profit-driven, short-sightedness of the oil-based economy that got us into this mess. As an environmentalist who came to the movement in the early-1990s fighting smokestack emissions, I can help the NDP tackle climate change in Ottawa. 

We face stiff opposition. The corporations who gain the most from business-as-usual continue to resist climate action. The Liberal Party has bought a pipeline project with our tax dollars, and is a clear enabler of the fossil fuel sector. The NDP must lead the struggle for real climate action. 

The great transition to a sustainable economy means countless new opportunities for meaningful work. The Federal government can leap into funding, training and purchasing. We can unleash the creativity of problem solvers across the land with start-up funds; help oil and gas tradespeople retrain for renewables and retrofits; spur well paid union jobs in manufacturing by ensuring that energy and infrastructure projects, as well as electric buses, trains and vehicles are “Made in Canada”, as much as possible. 

We must also grow essential sectors that are already low-carbon, skill-intensive, and well paid. Let’s expand the diversity of important jobs caring for the physical and mental health and the lifelong learning of others. Let’s invest in eco-services from sustainable forest management and tree planting to green tourism; plus research and multimedia work to generate and spread the ideas driving the great transition.

Climate Justice

Like Covid-19, climate change hits marginalized communities hardest. It impacts people of colour, including Indigenous peoples, disproportionately – a trend described as ‘environmental racism’. We must listen to people in harm’s way first when making climate policy, and prioritize social justice at home and abroad when taking climate action.

For Generations to Come

We cannot fall short. Climate change is an existential challenge facing everyone, everywhere. No community or nation-state can go it alone. We need a federal government that fosters vision, commitment, innovation, democratic debate and cooperation. For real buy-in on all levels of society, we need climate justice. 

It will not be easy. We must work across this country, and around the world, to heal the harms of the past and change our whole way of thinking about and relating to each other and the rest of nature. Let us follow the lead of Indigenous peoples in seeing that we are part of an interdependent creation, as some would say, or an interconnected planetary system, as others would prefer. Our differences matter, but we must bridge them across the Earth. Our only home. Now. So we can ensure a livable and peaceful world, for generations to come.


A Just Recovery for All, Council of Canadians website, 2021; https://canadians.org/justrecovery 

IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C, October 2018; https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/download/ 

All Hell Breaking Loose: The Pentagon’s Perspective on Climate Change, Michael Klare, 2019; https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781627792486 

The Paris Agreement, United Nations Climate Change webpage, 2021; https://unfccc.int/process-and-meetings/the-paris-agreement/the-paris-agreement 

Trans Mountain Pipeline, The Narwhal, Backgrounder 2021; https://thenarwhal.ca/topics/trans-mountain-pipeline/ 

A New Deal for People: New Democrats Commitments to You, Federal NDP, September 2019; https://action.ndp.ca/page/-/2019/Q2/2019-06-19_Commitments-Doc_EN.pdf

Environmental Racism in Canada, Canadian Commission for UNESCO, Ingrid Waldron, July 2020; https://en.ccunesco.ca/-/media/Files/Unesco/Resources/2020/07/EnvironmentalRacismCanada.pdf