Oilsands and renewables are typically positioned as opposing forces with fiercely political opinions on energy sources and resource extraction. Yet, a group of oilsands workers in Canada is asserting there is room for renewable energy alongside fossil fuels. The organization, Iron & Earth, includes members from industrial trades who are commited to diversifying the energy grid and working toward a sustainable energy future that Canadians can be proud of. While members of Iron & Earth aren’t calling for an end to the oilsands, they see a chance to manage production more sustainably in tandem with the development of clean energy infrastructure.
Iron & Earth believes workers affected by the unpredictable nature of the oil and gas industry can take advantage of clean energy jobs, especially if oilsands workers with related skill sets have an opportunity to be trained in the particular needs of the renewable energy industry to ensure steadier year-round employment. Iron & Earth works with unions, oil and gas companies, clean energy entrepreneurs and decision-makers to build relationships and bridge the divide across environmental interests and energy workers in order to challenge common “us vs. them” narrative.
Current projects include addressing training gaps and advocating for policies that support the construction of renewable energy infrastructure, producing a documentary film that tells the personal stories of Iron & Earth’s founders, and an interactive media project to highlight the organization’s members and serve as a portal for workers to locate training programs and engage with advocacy campaigns.