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Iron & Earth: Workers take charge in the transition to renewable energy

Have you heard of Iron & Earth? It’s an organization led by Canada’s oil sands workers that came together in the spring of 2015 when oil prices began to drop and workers were facing mass layoffs in the Alberta oil sands. The workers, including boiler makers, electricians, pipe fitters and iron workers, want to tackle climate change and unemployment through supporting green energy investments and retraining for work in the renewable energy sector. Iron & Earth chapters are forming across the country.

“Iron & Earth is a wonderful example of an organization that is part of a just transition away from fossil fuels to clean energy. Investments in clean energy and retraining of workers needs to continue across North America as our economies must significantly reduce carbon emissions,” says Louise Comeau, the Conservation Council’s Climate Change and Energy Solutions Director.

Iron and Earth is an oil sands worker led organization committed to catalyzing the renewable energy sector in Canada.

Iron & Earth East, the organization’s Atlantic Canadian chapter, announced earlier this month that they had reached their crowdfunder goal (with a matching contribution from Bullfrog Power — also a CCNB partner) to build a 100% renewable energy-powered demonstration greenhouse in St. John’s, Newfoundland.

“We’re thrilled at the response and so grateful for all the support from Bullfrog,” said Adam Cormier, a former oil sands worker with Iron & Earth East. “This greenhouse will allow us to tell the story of green energy’s power and increase the region’s renewable energy skill set through on-site training. The end goal is to attract more training and work opportunities here in Newfoundland and Labrador.”

The greenhouse will deploy the latest technologies to showcase renewable power. The organization is excited to show how Newfoundland and Labrador can deal with food security through the use of LED grow lights during the winter.

Earlier this summer, Iron & Earth signed an historic Memorandum of Understanding with Beothuk Energy, a wind energy company, to build six offshore wind projects totaling 4 MW of power. Beothuk Energy plans to create about 10 jobs for each MW produced.

The organization is also organizing various solar training workshops in Edmonton and Calgary, Alberta this month.

Iron & Earth has enjoyed a huge positive response since its launch. Oil and gas workers are contacting the organization, hoping to participate in the retraining programs. Thousands have liked, tweeted and shared the organization’s messages on social media. One CBC story was shared over 7,000 times. You can support the Iron & Earth by going to their website and pledging your support for the retraining of oilsands workers.

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