Welcome back to the Work and Climate Change Report! As well as our usual summaries of the past month’s publications, this issue also includes an “In Case You Missed It” section at the end, to catch you up on some of the most important developments from the summer, and while were on hiatus in solidarity with the CUPE strike at York University.
Federal Court of Appeal stops Trans Mountain pipeline in its tracks
In a stunning and historic decision, Canada’s Federal Court of Appeal quashed the approval of the Trans Mountain oil pipeline expansion on August 30. The Court’s decision was based on two grounds: 1). Failure to adequately consult with First Nations – characterizing the interaction as more “note-taking” than consultation, and 2) failure to consider the environmental impacts of oil tanker traffic, especially its effect on the Southern Resident Orca Whales. The full text of the decision is here; links to the chorus of reaction and analysis is here. Continue reading →
Global Renewable Energy industry lacks human rights and labour rights protections
A report from London-based Business and Human Rights Resource Centre (BHRRC) analyses 59 renewable energy companies’ human rights policies and practices on five key areas: human rights commitment, community consultations, grievance mechanisms, labour rights and supply chain monitoring. It concludes that “The current level of commitment by the majority of renewable energy companies is insufficient to prevent, address and mitigate human rights harms, especially as the sector rapidly expands.” Renewable Energy Risking Rights & Returns: An analysis of solar, bioenergy & geothermal companies’ human rights commitments was released on September 5. Continue reading →
International Labour delegates demand Just Transition action by G20 leaders
At side meetings of the G20 in Argentina, international labour union leaders met on September 4 and 5th under the theme: “An Agenda for Global Policy Coherence.” The Labour 20 (L20) Engagement Group, issued a press release on September 5, calling on the G20 Labour Ministers to commit to a nine-point plan regarding equality, job security, and social protection. It includes demands around climate change and Just Transition. From the detailed, 10- page statement: “The scale of the industrial transformation needed to comply with the climate objectives of the Paris Agreement is colossal but feasible. The transition to a low-carbon economy that keeps the temperature rise under 2°C requires not only massive investment in new and redesigned jobs, skills training, redeployment in new sectors, but also income guarantees and secure pensions. Social dialogue and collective bargaining are central components of the Just Transition, delivering socio-economic results that work better for everyone, building consensus and easing policy implementation……..” Continue reading →
Coal transition case studies argue for anticipation and early action
Implementing coal transitions: Insights from case studies of major coal-consuming economies, published on September 5, brings together the main insights from the Coal Transitions project, the international research program led by IDDRI and Climate Strategies. After an overview of global coal transitions already underway, the report presents case studies of coal transition in six countries: China, India, Poland, Germany, Australia and South Africa. The main message is: meaningful, timely consultation with stakeholders is essential, and the crucial success factor is to anticipate rather than wait until the economics turns against coal. Continue reading →
Global Commission proposals for clean growth forecasts 65 million new low-carbon jobs in 2030
The Global Commission on the Economy and Climate released its 2018 flagship report at the G20 meetings in Argentina on September 5. Unlocking the Inclusive Growth Story of the 21st Century: Accelerating Climate Action in Urgent Times uses extensive research and modelling to predict that its “bold climate action” prescription could deliver at least US$26 trillion in economic benefits through to 2030, and over 65 million new low-carbon jobs in 2030, as well as avoid over 700,000 premature deaths from air pollution. As the final point in its action road map, it calls for Just Transition measures and a role for civil society and trade unions in their creation. Continue reading →
German report proposes innovative policies for a “Just and In-time” Transition, climate migration and climate liability
Just and In-time Climate Policy: Four Initiatives for a Fair Transformation was released on August 31 by the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU). The paper makes innovative proposals for the German climate change policy in an international perspective; regarding Just Transition, it argues that current usage reflects a concept that may be too slow for the emissions reduction challenge the world faces, and proposes and describes the concept of “Just and In-Time” transition. It also addresses the issue of financing Just Transition, proposes an international passport for climate migrants, and recommends that “the German Federal Government should support a number of promising pioneer lawsuits, particularly those brought by people and communities harmed by climate change, against major corporations that have a significant responsibility for global warming, and assume the litigation cost risks for these lawsuits.” Continue reading →
NEWS AND NOTES:
Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco includes labour meetings
The Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco will gather 4,500 delegates from around the world from September 12 – 14. According to the Summit website, “At GCAS governors and mayors, business, investor and civil society leaders will make bold new announcements that will act as a launch-pad to Take Ambition on climate action to the Next Level while calling on national governments to do the same. “ Discussion and statements will be organized around five themes: Healthy Energy Systems, Inclusive Economic Growth, Sustainable Communities, Land and Ocean Stewardship and Transformative Climate Investments. The University of California Berkeley Labor Center is holding an official "affiliate event" at the Summit, called Labor in the Climate Transition: Charting the Roadmap for 2019 and Beyond, to identify and showcase best practices in worker-friendly climate policy, and highlight labour’s importance in sustainable, broad-based coalitions. The Global Summit was the lightning rod for the Rise for Climate action, led by 350.org, on September 8, and according to the San Francisco Chronicle, demonstrations will continue throughout the week, calling for the elimination of fossil fuels in California. Continue reading →
Canada launches consultation on vehicle emissions regulations under cloud of Trump rollbacks
On August 20, Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change published a Discussion Paper to launch consultations on Canada’s light-duty vehicle greenhouse gas emission regulations for the 2022–2025 model years. One of the first off the mark with a response: Clean Energy Canada, with “Canada should explore stronger vehicle standards to cut pollution and enhance competitiveness”. This consultation was scheduled as a mid-term evaluation in an established process, but politics in the U.S. have made it much more than routine. On August 2, the Trump administration announced the Safer Affordable Fuel Efficient Vehicle Rule (SAFER), which proposes weakening U.S. greenhouse gas emissions standards and Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for light duty vehicles in model years 2021 through 2025. The proposed rule would also revoke a legal waiver which allows California and 13 other states to set their own pollution standards. Continue reading →
Ford government sued by Greenpeace for cancellation of cap and trade without consultation
On September 11, a lawsuit against Ontario's government was filed in Ontario Superior Court on behalf of Greenpeace Canada. The suit asks the court to quash Bill 4, The Cap and Trade Cancellation Act, 2018 on the grounds that the Conservative government “unlawfully failed” to hold public consultations before cancelling the program, as required by Ontario’s Environmental Bill of Rights. When the legislature reconvenes, the government is expected to propose new greenhouse gas emissions targets. Continue reading →
Election proposals from Québec Solidaire party forecast 300,000 new green jobs by 2030
The new, urban-based Québec Solidaire party which has raised the profile of the issue of climate change in the current Quebec election campaign, with its proposal to ban the sale of new gas-powered vehicles by 2030, followed by a ban on the sale of new hybrid vehicles in 2040, with the goal of eliminating all gas and hybrid vehicles from Quebec roads by 2050. The party’s full platform was released on August 28 as Plan d’investissement en transport collectif (available in French only). Québec solidaire co-leader Manon Massé said that it would make Quebec a world leader in the fight against climate change, and would be the most important social change in the province since the Quiet Revolution. She also forecast that the Plan would create 300,000 green jobs by 2030. Continue reading →
New York state announces new funds for clean energy training, electric vehicles
New York State continues its path to a green economy with two announcements from Governor Cuomo in September. The first press release on September 4 announced $15 million to help promote clean energy workforce development and training programs at various campuses of the State University of New York (SUNY), including a “Solar Ready Vets” program to train veterans transitioning to civilian life in renewable energy; updates including electrical/solar photovotaic information for continuing education curricula for architects, engineers, and building and code inspectors at Erie Community College; and development of a wind operations technician training program at the Off-Shore Energy Center of SUNY Maritime. The second press release, on September 5, announced that the state will utilize $127.7 million received from the 2016 Volkswagen diesel emissions settlement to increase the number of electric and clean vehicles, by reducing the cost of new transit and school buses, trucks, and other vehicles, as well as supporting electric vehicle charging equipment. Continue reading →
Job protection gets high priority in Germany’s Commission on phase-out of brown coal
On June 6, Germany’s Special Commission on Growth, Structural Economic Change and Employment was launched to study and make recommendations for social and economic policy for a phase-out of lignite coal in Germany. The word “coal” does not appear in its name, reflecting the political tension surrounding the issue. Groups such as The Green Party, WWF Germany and Greenpeace Germany are critical, as summarized in “Why are German coal workers so powerful, when there are so few?” in Climate Home News (Aug. 14), which states that “saving jobs in the coal sector is its first priority, followed by designing the structural change in the coal regions towards low-carbon economies, with climate protection and coal phase-out coming last.” Continue reading →
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: A selection of documents released in Spring/Summer 2018
In a summer of heat waves and wildfires across the world and across Canada, climate change was a frequent topic in the news, and on the minds of politicians. In Canada, the energy and climate change landscape changed repeatedly – starting with the stunning May 29 announcement by the federal government that it would spend $4.5 billion to buy the Trans Mountain oil pipeline so that its expansion can proceed under the ownership of a Crown corporation, “in the national interest.” The election of a Conservative government in Ontario in June and its immediate action to cancel the province’s cap and trade program, as well as renewable energy incentives was the next consequential event, with Ontario also joining Saskatchewan in a constitutional challenge to the carbon tax provisions. With the carbon pricing solidarity of the Pan Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change crumbling, on August 1, the federal government proposed a new benchmark for the carbon price standard: 80 per cent of the industry average of emissions — and 90 per cent for producers of cement, iron and steel, lime and nitrogen fertilizer.
On August 30, the Federal Court of Appeal ruled that the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline must stop until an authentic consultation process with First Nations is conducted, prompting Alberta to pull out of the Pan Canadian Framework until the federal government “fixes the mess” of the Trans Mountain approval.
In the U.S., Donald Trump and his Environmental Protection Agency were also in the news, most notably with the Safer Affordable Fuel Efficient Vehicle Rule (SAFER) on August 2, proposing to weaken the EPA vehicle emissions standards and the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for light duty vehicles, as well as revoke the right of California and 13 other states to set their own standards. On August 21, the Trump administration announced The U.S. Affordable Clean Energy Rule, rolling back Obama’s signature climate change initiative, the Clean Power Plan.
Amid all this, here are some reports you may have missed:
- Achieving Sustainability: A Vision for Next-Generation Environmental Assessment in British Columbia, a report from 23 environmental, legal, social justice and community organizations (May 28).
- Addressing the New Normal: 21st Century Disaster Management in British Columbia, Review of the 2017 Wildfire season by George Abbott, and Maureen Chapman, a hereditary chief of the Skawahlook First Nation, commissioned by the B.C. Government (May).
- After the Flood: The Impact of Climate on Mental Health and Lost Time From Work published by the Intact Centre for Climate Adaptation at the University of Waterloo (June) (see more at the WCR).
- British Columbia Clean Growth Future Engagement Discussion papers (July).
- Canada’s Fossil-Fuelled Pensions: The Case of the British Columbia Investment Management Corporation published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and Corporate Mapping Project (June) .
- Canada’s Energy Transition: Getting to our Energy Future, Together, the Report of the federal Generation Energy Council to Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources (June 28).
- Environment and Climate Change Canada Discussion Paper to launch consultations on the mid-term evaluation of Canada's light-duty vehicle greenhouse gas emission regulations for the 2022–2025 model years (August, consultation open till September 28).
- Confronting Carbon lock-in: Canada’s oil sands from the Stockholm Environment Institute (June).
- The End of Coal – Alberta’s Coal Phase-out published by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (May).
- Greening Freight: Pathways to GHG Reductions in the Trucking Sector, published by the Conference Board of Canada (May).
- How to lead a workplace discussion on Climate Change by the National Environment program of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) (June).
- An Ironic Outcome: The United States — Even under Trump — Is Closer to Meeting Its Emission Targets Than Canada by Jeff Rubin, published by Centre for International Governance Innovation, University of Waterloo (June 2018).
- Measuring Progress on Adaptation and Climate Resilience – the report of The Expert Panel on Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience Results, commissioned by the Canadian government in August 2017, and tabled on June 26, 2018 (Dr. Blair Feltmate, Chair).
- NAFTA 2.0: For People Or Polluters? A Climate Denier’s Trade Deal versus a Clean Energy Economy released by the Sierra Club, the Council of Canadians, and Greenpeace Mexico (April) (Read more at the WCR).
- Tar Sands Tanker Superhighway Threatens Pacific Coast Waters published by Greenpeace USA (June) (includes estimates of B.C. job loss impacts).
- Trade and Climate Change: Synergies and Conflicts published by Centre for International Governance Innovation, University of Waterloo (July 30).
- Climate Change Assessment Report from the State of California (August).
- Cool it! Reps guide on dealing with high temperatures in the workplace published by the Trades Union Congress (Read more at the WCR which also notes the U.K.’s Environmental Audit Committee publication Heatwaves: adapting to climate change).
- The Economic and Social Benefits of Low-carbon Cities - A Systematic Review of the Evidence prepared for the Coalition for Urban Transitions by the University of Leeds Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy, published by New Climate Economy (June).
- Extreme Heat and Unprotected Workers published by Public Citizen (U.S.) (July).
- “Fossil Fuels on Trial: Where the the Major Climate Change Lawsuits Stand Today” an article from Inside Climate News (Aug. 14); for more, see ongoing, international coverage in Climate Liability News.
- Greening with Jobs: World Employment and Social Outlook Report 2018 published by the International Labor Organization (May). (For more see WCR).
- G7 2018 Official Communique (June), which includes new language on Just Transition. (see more at the WCR).
- Global climate action of regions, states and businesses: Research report published by Data Driven Yale, NewClimate Institute, PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency.
- Global EV Outlook 2018, released by the International Energy Association (May 2018).
- The Hothouse Earth article: “Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene” published in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science (PNAS) (August), (and the commentary by Eric Holthaus “Terrified by ‘hothouse Earth’? Don’t despair — do something” in the National Observer, and WCR).
- Involving Trade Unions in Climate action to build a Just transition, published by European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) (May) (see more at the WCR).
- Midway to 2030: Building Resiliency and Equity for a Just Transition by the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance (April).
- Reclaiming UK Energy: What’s the Plan? – TUED Bulletin 75 released by Trade Unions for Energy Democracy.
- Reducing UK emissions – 2018 Progress Report to Parliament from the U.K. Committee on Climate Change (June) (for more see WCR).
- Should your union's pension fund divest from fossil fuels? A guide for trade unionists published by the Divest Invest Network and Labor Network for Sustainability (more at WCR).
- State of the Climate 28th Annual Report, published by the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.
- State and Trends of Carbon Pricing 2018 released by the World Bank (May).
- Just Transition: A Business Guide released by the ITUC Just Transition Centre and The B Team (May).
- Just Transition: A Revolutionary Idea – TUED Bulletin 73 released by Trade Unions for Energy Democracy (June) (more at WCR, which also links to the April 2018 TUED report, Trade Unions and Just Transition: The Search for a Transformative Politics).
- 2018 U.S. Energy & Employment Report (USEER) published by the National Association of State Energy Officials and the Energy Futures Initiative ( May). This is consistent with the 2016 and 2017 statistical reports previously published by the U.S. Department of Energy (more at WCR).