Iron and Earth: Oil Sands Workers for Renewable Energy!

A Report from the Political Action and Awareness Committee Co-Chair, Dennel Pickering

Devin Tepleski from Iron and Earth presented about an initiative led by oil sands workers to retrain workers to transition into renewable energy development.  This project started as a documentary film.  Since then, 600 workers have signed up.  These oil sands workers are grateful for the opportunities oil sands have offered but see renewable energy development as the next step to ensuring a sustainable future – it’s also where great opportunities await.

Iron and Earth is in its infancy right now, but the concept is solid and it is quickly building momentum.  It has created 4 pillars for success: collaboration, research, training and advocacy.  Training is scheduled to start next summer.

The federal government is holding town hall meetings asking public for climate change strategy as a result of the Paris agreement.  Saskatoon West is the only constituency in Saskatchewan that has held one, but members can request their MP hold a meeting or they can give feedback directly to the government.

Iron and Earth has a solar skills campaign coming out soon.  This is an initiative where the goal is to have 1000 electricians implement 100 solar projects (such as solar panels on high schools that they are partnering with or EV charging stations) by offering some training for transference of skills and hands on work to build ability to transition into renewable.  They will also provide curriculum materials to the high schools in order to get future workers interested in the renewable trade.

Iron and Earth has created a workers climate plan found at www.workersclimateplan.ca.  This includes a survey consultation, video testimonials, worker interviews, ability to participate in town halls, digital town halls, or the ability to submit directly to the government at www.letstalkclimate.ca.  So far, solar and wind technology is leading the growth in renewable energy.  $32.9 billion has been invested globally since 2004 into renewable energy.  It is estimated that $7.4 trillion will be invested globally by 2040 in renewable energy.  Electricians can transition their skills into solar jobs, geothermal jobs can be done by boilermakers.

They still need funding for this project and have recently applied to the Alberta government.  They are also looking for sponsors.  Companies like Enbridge and Suncor are investing in renewable energies.  There is expected funding this fall in the AB government fall budget and with the targets agreed to by the federal government, hopefully federal funding will become available to projects like this as well.

Saskatchewan and Alberta are the hot spots for solar energy, yet other provinces seem to be leading the way.  Other provinces are generating more renewable energy and investing more into renewable energy research – we must take part in the transition to renewable energies.

To get further involved, you can text WCP to 1-778-771-0852 and check out their website www.ironandearth.org.  They also have an AGM on October 29 in Edmonton.

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