Climate change expert calls on Regina to work toward 'just transition' to renewable energy

·2 min read
Melting ice photographed in Atlantic Canada.  (Submitted by Isabelle Bauge - image credit)
Melting ice photographed in Atlantic Canada. (Submitted by Isabelle Bauge - image credit)

A panellist at an upcoming event discussing climate change is calling on Regina to work for a just transition to renewable energy.

In 2018, the city pledged to become 100 per cent renewable by 2050. How far has the city come and what more needs to be done are the topic of Regina's Just Transition, a panel discussion being held Tuesday evening by four city councillors: Dan LeBlanc, Shanon Zachidniak, Cheryl Stadnichuk and Andrew Stevens.

Seth Klein, author of A Good War: Mobilizing Canada for the Climate Emergency, is one of the panellists. His book compares the effort needed to move toward a greener future to the world's mobilization for the Second World War.

Klein said a "just transition" means transitioning society off fossil fuels to renewables, but without leaving anyone behind. He said it's about tackling both the climate crisis and inequality.

This may mean creating new economic institutions for the change and shifting from voluntary measures to mandatory measures, Klein said.

"It means truly ambitious, audacious spending in those alternatives that we need, whether it's renewable energy or building retrofits or mass transit, so that people can see that the promise of just transition isn't just a hollow promise," Klein said.

"It also means telling the truth with the public about the severity of the crisis."

Seth Klein said a just transition tells fossil fuel workers they will have jobs in a green economy.
Seth Klein said a just transition tells fossil fuel workers they will have jobs in a green economy. (Erica Johnson)

Klein said with any crisis begins with a period of denial. He said governments have been able to wait when it comes to climate action, but that a majority of Canadians now see it as an emergency.

"There has been a shift in the public opinion terrain where we moved from seeing the crisis somewhere else, sometime in the future, to here, to now. And people know we need to do something."

Moving to renewables must offer good jobs: Klein

The key to a just transition is making sure people currently in the fossil fuel industry will still have good jobs, Klein said.

He said there are about 300,000 workers with jobs tied to the fossil fuels industry.

"I think we should actually be saying to everyone whose economic security is currently tied to the fossil fuel industry, we've got you. You're not going to be left behind," Klein said.