Work and Climate Change Report
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11/15/2018 - Issue #77
 Work and Climate Change Report
Green transitions for Canadian work and workplaces:
Research news and updates
ACW Director: Carla Lipsig-Mummé                                  WCR Editor: Elizabeth Perry

The Work and Climate Change Report  is a project of Adapting Canadian Work and Workplaces to Respond to Climate Change: Canada in International Perspective. ACW is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).  |

Preview of the recommendations by Canada’s Just Transition Task Force
Canada’s Task Force on Just Transition for Canadian Coal Power Workers and Communities has delivered its Interim Report to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, although it is not public as of November 14. An article in the National Observer on November 5, reports on what is known about the content and recommendations, mostly based on interviews with Task Force members, including Co-Chair Hassan Yussuff. A formal response from the government is expected in November, in advance of the COP24 meetings in Katowice Poland in December. Continue reading →

Just Transition is essential to a low carbon economy. How can unions contribute?   
On October 22, the International Labour Organization (ILO) released  Just Transition Towards Environmentally Sustainable Economies  and Societies for All, which argues for the importance of just transition policies as an integral part of the climate policy and sustainable development policy framework. This Policy Brief is aimed at a labour union audience,  provides international case studies, and concludes with a checklist of how trade unions and workers’ organizations can contribute to the goal of Just Transition: 1. Be proactive and build just transition strategies for the future; 2. Be involved at all levels; 3. Build coalitions; 4. Manage labour market transitions; and 5. Develop future-oriented innovative approaches. The author is Béla Galgóczi, Senior Researcher at the European Trade Union Institute and an Associate of the Adapting Canadian Work and Workplaces to Respond to Climate Change (ACW) research project. Continue reading →

Extended Producer Responsibility reduces waste and impacts the workplace 
The October 16 report from the Ecofiscal Commission, Cutting the Waste: How to save money while improving our solid waste systems is a thorough examination of the issue of waste management in Canada. It discusses consumer behaviour, but the main focus is on municipal programs of disposal pricing (tipping fees and “pay as you throw”) and Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR). Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) programs shift the costs and responsibility for waste management from taxpayers and consumers to manufacturers; the Ecofiscal Commission recommends extending and harmonizing such programs. The Zero-Waste programs of GM-Canada auto manufacturing provide an example of how EPR can work. Continue reading →

Tips for greening office workplaces in new Guide
The Canadian Coalition for Green Healthcare, in partnership with the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment and others, recently published the Green Office Toolkit,  which provides practical tips and examples focused on improving energy and water conservation, handling of toxic materials, and workplace transportation, as well as creating, organizing and motivating a workplace “green team”. Although it is intended for health care clinics and medical offices, the Green Office Toolkit is easily adaptable to other office workplaces. Continue reading →

Just Transition for energy workers in Northern England should include job quality, skills training
Risk or reward? Securing a just transition in the north of England was released in late October by the Institute for Public Policy Research North (IPPR), based in Manchester and Newcastle of the U.K. – an area disproportionately at risk for job losses in the shift to a low carbon economy as it is the home of the majority of England’s coal and gas power stations. The report estimates that approximately 28,000 jobs in the coal, oil and gas industries could be lost by 2030 as the low carbon economy grows, but concerns itself with job quality as well as numbers. This is an Interim Report, with a final report and strategy promised for 2019.  That strategy “will also consider other challenges facing the low-carbon sector both now and in the future, including how to ensure it can deliver good working conditions and a diverse workforce. In addition, it will set out the crucial role of trade unions in delivering well-paid, secure and high skilled jobs, as well as a successful industrial strategy and improving productivity.” Continue reading → 

New Just Transition agreement for Spanish coal miners called a model for others
The new government of Spain, in power since May 2018, has reached a new Just Transition agreement with coal miners, to further the coal phase-out which has been underway since the early 2000’s. Approximately 1,000 miners and contractors at 10 mines will lose their jobs at the end of 2018, but a report in The Guardian (Oct. 26) states: “Unions hailed the mining deal – which covers Spain’s privately owned pits – as a model agreement. It mixes early retirement schemes for miners over 48, with environmental restoration work in pit communities and re-skilling schemes for cutting-edge green industries.” The cost of the program is estimated at 250 million Euros. A press release from IndustriALL provides greatest detail, and includes a link to the 37-page actual agreement - in Spanish only. Continue reading →       

Just Transition proposals to protect workers' interests in a report commissioned by Australia's energy workers' union
An October 29 report commissioned by CFMEU Mining and Energy union of Australia argues that government will need billions of dollars for comprehensive measures to support workers and communities in a move away from coal-fired power generation. It calls for consultation and participation in planning, and an independent statutory Energy Transition Authority. The Ruhr or Appalachia? Deciding the future of Australia's coal power workers and communities examines case studies from around the world, as well as examining  Australia’s own experiences. The Hazelwood closure is judged as unsuccessful - due to a lack of advance planning - and the LaTrobe Valley experience as a positive model. The report concludes: advance planning is essential to success, as is active participation from companies, workforce union representation, and government. The report was written by Professor Peter Sheldon at the Industrial Relations Research Centre at the University of New South Wales. Continue reading →


IPCC report prompts emergency debate in Canada's House of Commons 
In response to the landmark report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Global Warming of 1.5, Canada’s House of Commons held an emergency debate on Global Warming on October 15. Elizabeth May, leader of Canada’s Green Party, spoke movingly: "The issue tonight is not to debate Canada’s current carbon plan, Canada’s current climate plan. ... We should not be scoring political points …. We should be here as humanity, human beings, elected people for our constituencies who know full well that if we do not change what we are doing as a species, we will face an unthinkable world. The good news is we still have a chance to save ourselves." Continue reading →

Updating the political battle of carbon pricing in Canada
Updating the political battle of carbon pricing in Canada tracks current discourse with links to opinion and analysis, for example: “Arguments against the carbon tax boil down to a desire to do nothing” (Oct. 24) in the establishment Toronto Globe and Mail newspaper. Conservative politicians continue to backtrack on provincial policies and challenge the federal carbon pricing plan in courts -  as reported in a recent, much-mocked Maclean’s magazine article, and many other articles. Continue reading →

Research and opinion support a carbon tax for Canada
Research and opinion support a carbon tax for Canada includes links to recent reports and articles, including an interview with Nobel-prize winning economist and carbon pricing expert William Nordhaus, and the October 16 report from Ontario’s Financial Accountability Officer, which estimated that the cancellation of Ontario’s cap and trade program will drive the provincial deficit up by $3 billion. Even the right-leaning C.D. Howe Institute has endorsed the federal carbon backstop policy in  “The Rocky Road to Canada-wide Carbon Pricing October 17). And discussion of the “carbon dividend” continues. Continue reading →

Alberta Updates: public opinion, ownership patterns of Big Oil, and a Just Transition conference
Provinces Apart? Comparing Citizen Views in Alberta and British Columbia was released by the Parkland Institute on October 25, based on data from a 2017 survey which measured citizens’ views on political influence, the fossil fuel industry, climate change, and the role of protests in a democracy. Opinions were not as divergent as stereotypes suggest - for example, 76% in Alberta and 68% in B.C. thought the petroleum industry has too much influence over governments (fewer than one-third said the same about either environmentalists, labour unions or Indigenous groups). Who Owns Canada’s Fossil-Fuel Sector? Mapping the Network of Ownership & Control was also released in October, as part of the Corporate Mapping Project. It demonstrates that the production, ownership and control of the fossil fuel industry is highly concentrated, with foreign corporations (led by ExxonMobil) as the largest majority owners. Also named: asset managers and investment funds, and banks and life insurance companies - with the big five Canadian banks (RBC, TD, Scotiabank, BMO and CIBC) among the top investors. The report also points out the importance of divestment campaigns, and calls for a shift to energy democracy. Finally, the third annual BlueGreen Conference on Just Transition and Good Jobs convened in Edmonton on October 22 and 23. Continue reading →

Newfoundland and Labrador announces its "lax tax" on carbon 
A “ Made-in-Newfoundland and Labrador Approach to Carbon Pricing” was announced and described in a press release on October 23, with a carbon tax rate of $20 tonne starting on January 1, 2019. The most notable feature: many exemptions for consumers (home heating fuel) and for the following industries: agriculture, fishing, forestry, offshore and mineral exploration, and methane gases from venting and fugitive emissions in the oil and gas sector. In depth analysis appears in “Newfoundland’s carbon tax gives ‘free pass’ to offshore oil industry” in The Narwhal on November 9. Continue reading →

New climate legislation in Saskatchewan - Prairie Resilience without carbon pricing 
The new session of the Saskatchewan legislature opened on October 30 with introduction of The Management and Reduction of Greenhouse Gases Amendment Act, 2018. The amendments will support the province’s existing climate change strategy, Prairie Resilience, which rejects carbon pricing. Saskatchewan produces approximately 13% of Canada’s total crude oil and derives approximately 40 per cent of its power from coal. In that economic context, a Just Transition Summit  was convened in Saskatoon on October 27 and 28, by Saskforward, the Corporate Mapping Project, Climate Justice Saskatoon, the Regina Public Interest Research Group and Unifor. Continue reading →   

A “new social contract” launches to fight climate change in Quebec
“The Planet goes to Parliament” is a new grassroots group, formed in Quebec since the election of the Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) party in October. Their latest demonstration on November 10 attracted 50,000 people in Montreal; their Pact for Transition (English version here), French version here), calls for “radical, co-ordinated and societal transformation” and has already been signed by 175,000 Quebecers. Continue reading →  

Climate Strikes: Children are leading the way
An 11-year old girl from Sudbury Ontario has been inspired by the 15-year old Swedish student, whose Twitter campaign #FridaysforFuture began in September, calling for students to join her every Friday by skipping school and demonstrating for climate action in front of government buildings. Australian kids have also taken up the call, and are organizing a nation-wide student strike on November 30 through their Twitter campaign  #SchoolStrike4Climate. In an interview, the Sudbury protester asks: “If adults don’t care about our future why should I? What is the point of going to school?” Continue reading →

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Adapting Canadian Work and Workplaces (ACW) is a project of the Work in a Warming World (W3) research programme funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).
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