Environmental issues are priorities for BCGEU members and are therefore firmly on the union’s agenda. The union brings a special experience to this issue, since our members work for government departments with the mandate to protect and preserve our natural resources and environmental heritage.
BCGEU also works closely with groups and organizations around the province, dedicated to protecting the environment, in order to perform research, build awareness around climate change, and advocate for investments in climate action and green jobs.
This section of BCGEU’s website provides information on initiatives and campaigns, as well as resources for taking action on environmental issues in our members’ workplaces and our communities.
BCGEU’s Environment Committee
►Committee of the Provincial Executive
Talking Climate, Making Change
►Membership education campaign
Green Jobs & Climate Action
►Research, outreach and awareness-raising
►Environmentalism and political action
►Turning down the heat on climate change
Greening the Union
►Reducing BCGEU’s carbon footprint
BCGEU Environment Committee
Committee of the Provincial Executive
BCGEU has an active Environment Committee to raise awareness about environmental issues and provide direction to the union on the position it takes on these critical areas.
TERMS OF REFERENCE
• promotes environmental awareness and responsibility;
• works with other unions and organizations to find areas of cooperation on environmental matters;
• provides a forum for opinions and voice of members;
• evaluates and comments on government policy;
• provides policy advice and recommendations to the Provincial Executive on environmental matters;
• defends the interests of our members;
• monitors environmental issues;
• promotes institutional change.
Brenda Brown, Chairperson
Laurie Ann Proudfoot
Pam St. Thomas
Colleen Forshaw, Environment Officer
Eric Hamilton-Smith, Secretary
Peter Mehling, Asst. Secretary
Cliff Stainsby, Resource Person
George Butcher, Resource Person
|Forestry Crisis||Save BC Parks||Save AirCare|
|Environment Links & Resources|
Talking Climate, Making Change
Talking Climate, Making Change is a member-developed, member-driven educational module and is the centre plank of BCGEU's commitment to take action on climate change—starting with educating and engaging with our own members.The course aims to educate members on the causes and impacts of climate change, what BCGEU and other unions are doing in response to the climate change challenge, and ways that union members can get involved and take action in the workplace, in their communities, and within the union.
During the course, members explore experiences and concerns about climate change, and leave feeling engaged, empowered, and hopeful about addressing climate change through practical and attainable actions.
Green Jobs & Climate Action
Research, outreach, and consciousness-raising
Global warming threatens us all—our environment, our health, our economies, our social services, and our children’s future. Significant reductions in greenhouse gases are required if we are to slow and reverse the warming trend in our atmosphere and lessen the impacts of climate change.
BCGEU has therefore embarked on a major, long-term campaign to address climate change. We are taking action to reduce our union's carbon footprint. Along with other groups, we're pressing government and corporations to take action to turn down the heat.
We are also working to ensure that the consequences and costs of global warming are shared equally, so that working people are fairly treated.BCGEU recognizes that green job opportunities will flourish as our society comes to terms with various environmental issues such as climate change and ecosystem health.
Many of our members currently have green jobs, working for government departments for which protecting and preserving our natural resources and environmental heritage is their primary mandate.We are proud of our members’ contribution to the green economy in BC.
Carbon Tax and Climate Action
Joint Submission to the BC Government
BCGEU views British Columbia’s Carbon Tax as an important first step in the province’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and build an economy powered by cleaner sources of energy and that provides good, green jobs to British Columbians.
Looking forward to 2013 and beyond, we recommend changes to improve the fairness and effectiveness of the carbon tax, and to direct a portion of tax revenue toward investments in climate action and green infrastructure.
BCGEU was a co-author and one of 17 signatories to a joint labour union-environmental organization submission on recommendations for the 2013 provincial budget regarding the carbon tax.
Through BCGEU’s Cool Communities campaign, we're working to create concrete opportunities for BCGEU members to be part of the solution in their own communities.Our workplaces and communities are affected by many environmental issues, such as climate change, air quality, waste and recycling, and many others.
From expanding recycling programs to promoting more local food production, BCGEU's Cool Communities campaign is our way of trying to make a difference.
Managing BC's Forests for a Cooler Planet
BCGEU is a partner in the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternative's “Climate Justice Project”, an initiative examining climate change through a social justice lens.
In 2010, BCGEU co-published a report on the need for forest policy to be driven by sustainable job creation and carbon storage.
The report concludes that the Province of British Columbia needs to conserve more forest, halt rampant wood waste and promote wise use of forest products—all as part of a concerted effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction Scenarios for BC
Co-written by BCGEU Research Officer Cliff Stainsby (retired), this report helps provide an understanding of the basis for, and the scale of, the global warming problem and the kind of contribution BC might make to its solution.
Greening the Union
Because protecting the environment is a top priority for our members, BCGEU makes every attempt to reduce our impact on the earth.At our 2006 Convention, BCGEU members passed a resolution which directed the union to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. Since then, the union has carbon footprint assessments regularly performed for all GEU-owned buildings which include recommendations for further reducing our footprint.
Because heating and cooling of our buildings represents more than half of our greenhouse gas emissions, energy efficiency retrofitting is a priority for the union, and improvement projects are ongoing.These began with simple improvements including: lighting upgrades and motion sensors, motion sensor taps and low-flush toilets, investing in video conferencing for all our area offices, and implementing a paper reduction plan and switching to all recycled paper.
As the union grows, the environment remains a top priority, and new buildings are being built to be ‘green’ with energy efficiency, building health, and water utilization.BCGEU’s newest area office, the George Heyman Organizing Centre, built in Langley in 2010, was constructed to LEED Gold Certification standards.
The union also incentivizes fuel efficiency and limits vehicle size; employees with fuel-efficient vehicles get a monthly stipend whereas fuel hogs are penalized.The Results? (since 2006)
• Paper reduction strategy a success: paper use down 50%;
• Water use down 60%;
• Vehicle gas consumption down 18%;
• Air travel emissions down 11%.
The union also successfully implemented a number of other waste-reducing and ‘green’ initiatives, including a ‘buy-local’ purchasing policy that requires all convention and meeting catering to be purchased from caterers who guarantee 85-90% locally-sourced food consistent with the ‘100-Mile Diet’. This also includes composting and vegetable gardens at some of our 12 area offices.When it comes to the call for a greener and more environmentally friendly BC, BCGEU tries hard to ‘walk the walk’, taking responsibility for reducing our own carbon and environmental footprint wherever possible