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Don’t Wait for the State: A blueprint for grassroots climate transitions in Canada offers a framework for communities to organize around the idea of an inclusive and productive transition to a cleaner local economy.
Every community across Canada depends on fossil fuels for transportation, heating, food production and other vital needs. Confronting the climate emergency by tackling our society’s reliance on fossil fuels is an urgent necessity for each one of us. Nonetheless, climate action pursued without a bold and inclusive transition plan risks widening already dangerous levels of inequality, further polarizing politics, and deepening social and economic hardship for many. This is especially the reality for Indigenous, racialized and other historically marginalized people, who have contributed the least to the problem, have the least capacity to adapt, and yet are experiencing the most severe impacts of a changing climate.
Unfortunately, while climate breakdown accelerates and theatrical political debates over transition fill the airwaves, communities are still waiting for action at the local level. This report is aimed at local organizers and community leaders who are tired of waiting and ready to act.
The paper begins by outlining a vision for grassroots climate organizing that takes as its inspiration the idea of a “just transition,” which is grounded in the labour movement’s fight to ensure workers are prioritized in the transition away from fossil fuel production. Organizing for climate justice and local power can build on and reinforce worker-focused just transition initiatives while advancing a broader set of community priorities.