Work and Climate Change Report
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01/17/2018 - Issue #73
 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).  |

Clean Technology Employment in Canada – new data from two Statistics Canada publications
A December 15 article in Energy Mix reported “More Canadians working in green jobs than in oil patch”; the National Observer wrote “There are nearly 300,000 high-paying clean tech jobs in Canada”. Both articles were based on data released by Statistics Canada on December 13 from its new Environmental and Clean Technology Products Economic Account survey. Statistics Canada estimates that 274,000 jobs were attributable to environmental and clean technology activity in 2016, accounting for 1.5% of jobs in the Canadian economy. This represents a growth of 4.5% since 2007 – but at a time when employment in the economy as a whole grew 8.4%. The good news of the data shows higher than average annual labour compensation per job (including benefits) for environmental and clean technology jobs –  $92,000, compared with an economy-wide average of $59,900. Smaller employment numbers are reported by the Survey of Environmental Goods and Services (SEGS), most recently published on December 12, 2017, and providing data from 2015. Amongst the findings: "In 2015, about 11,000 people held environmental and clean technology positions in Ontario, while almost 4,000 people were employed in this sector in Quebec. Waste management services provided jobs for another 15,000 people in Ontario and 7,000 people in Quebec.” Continue reading →

New York City and State announce plans to divest public pension funds from fossil fuels
New York City Mayor Bill diBlasio captured headlines on January 10 2018 for his announcement that New York City will divest from fossil fuels and will sue Exxon and other oil companies for the damages of Superstorm Sandy. Yet it was actually on December 19 that New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer and New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo  first announced separate proposals to freeze current fossil fuel investments, divest New York’s public pension funds from fossil fuels, and reinvest in renewable energy. Common Dreams summarized the announcements in "‘Undeniable Victory’: Cheers Follow Proposals to Divest Massive New York Pensions From Fossil Fuels”. Contrast the New York divestment announcements with the continued fossil fuel investment of the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB), revealed in two new reports in early December. Friends of the Earth Canada released Canadian Coal Investment: Powering Past the Coal Alliance, and Urgewald, a German organization, released Investors vs. the Paris Agreement. The two reports “present a compelling picture of entrenched investors holding onto the old dirty economy and its growing risks at a time when politicians are committing to the phase out of coal.” – specifically, the Powering Past Coal Alliance launched by Canada and Great Britain at COP23 in Bonn in 2017. Continue reading →

California’s progressive policies yield better job growth and wage growth than Republican comparators

A November 2017 report from the Labor Center at University of California Berkeley examined the “California Policy Model” –  defined as a collection of 51 pieces of legislation and policy implementations enacted in California between 2011 and 2016 – and found that with progressive policies such as minimum wage increases, increased access to health insurance, reduction of carbon emissions and higher taxes on the wealthy, the state showed superior economic performance in comparison to Republican-controlled states and to a simulated version of California without such policies. According to "California is Working: The Effects of California’s Public Policy on Jobs and the Economy since 2011", the suite of progressive policies resulted in superior total employment growth, superior private sector employment growth, and higher wage growth for low-wage workers from 2014 to 2016. All the while, keeping the state on track to meet its 2020 GHG emissions targets. Continue reading →

Increasing frequency and intensity of heat stress bring dangers to outside workers and will trigger migration
The 40-plus temperatures and melting asphalt of Australia’s latest heat wave seem hard to understand for North Americans shivering under a polar vortex, but both temperature extremes relate to climate change, and both can be deadly for vulnerable groups, including outdoor workers. In “Temperature and humidity based projections of a rapid rise in global heat stress exposure during the 21st century” in Environmental Research Letters, the authors conclude that “heat stress may prove to be one of the most widely experienced and directly dangerous aspects of climate change, posing a severe threat to human health, energy infrastructure, and outdoor activities ranging from agricultural production to military training.” One might add, to any outdoor worker, including those in agriculture, construction, delivery, and emergency responders. But a recent article from Climate News Network shows that we’re all in this together.” Warming drives climate refugees to Europe” (Dec. 22) summarizes a study which combined EU asylum-application data with projections of future warming, and concludes that even under optimistic scenarios, asylum applications to the EU would increase by 28% by 2100. Continue reading →


Federal government releases detailed proposals for Canada’s carbon pricing system, including output-based pricing for industrial emitters
On January 15, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and the Minister of Finance issued a press release announcing the full draft legislative proposals relating to the carbon pricing system. Public comment will be accepted until February 12, 2018. The full text of Legislative and Regulatory Proposals Relating to the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act and Explanatory Notes are in English and French versions. Leading up to the January release, the federal government had released clarification about the timing of the planned backstop carbon pricing mechanism on December 20, 2017 – it will come into effect by January 2019, bringing the carbon price to $20 per tonne in any jurisdiction that doesn’t meet the federal benchmark. Full details are set out in: Supplemental Benchmark GuidanceTimelines, and the Letter to Ministers. Generally positive reaction followed, from the Pembina Institute and Clean Energy Canada. Continue reading →

Canada’s Clean Fuel Standard Framework released

On December 13, the Government of Canada released its Clean Fuel Standard Regulatory Framework, the latest stage in the development of regulations to complement the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change, by achieving 30 megatonnes of annual reductions in GHG emissions by 2030. The standard will apply to all fuels – gasoline and diesel, but also aviation fuel, natural gas for heating, and metallurgical coal. It will also apply to the full life cycle of fuels – the first jurisdiction in the world to do so, according to the Pembina Institute. The Clean Fuel Standard has been called the single most important policy tool to achieve Canada’s emissions reductions target for 2030. Continue reading →

Strong new policies needed for electric vehicle adoption in Canada
With a National Zero Emissions Vehicle Strategy expected to be released in Canada in early 2018, two reports released in December decry Canada’s slow progress to date, and make policy recommendations to speed up electric vehicle adoption. Clean Energy Canada released Stuck in Neutral, which states that “In 2016, just 0.6 per cent of car sales in Canada were for electric vehicles, well behind the U.S., U.K., China and other world-leading nations (Norway’s market share is a whopping 28.8 per cent).” The report provides a suite of recommended policies, starting with strengthening Canada’s aspiration target of 30% EV sales by 2030 to a binding, ambitious national EV adoption target, beginning in 2020. The second report, from the Sustainable Transportation Research Action Team at Simon Fraser University, is Canada’s ZEV Policy Handbook. It describes three possible policy scenarios and urges that whichever one is chosen, Canada should “stop nibbling around the edges”. Continue reading →

Canada’s progress on emissions reduction: New reports from OECD, UNFCCC, and policy discussion

A brief article about Canada’s “staggering challenge” and policy options to meet its emissions reduction targets appeared in The Conversation on January 11, 2018), written by Warren Mabee, Director of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Policy at Queen's University and a Co-Investigator in  the Adapting Canadian Work and Workplaces to Respond to Climate Change (ACW) project. “How your online shopping is impeding Canada’s emissions targets” outlines the issues of clean electricity, transportation emissions (where your online shopping can make a difference), greener homes, and rethinking fossil resources. More detailed information appeared in the 3rd Environmental Performance Review for Canada released by the OECD on December 19. The OECD warns that “Without a drastic decrease in the emissions intensity of the oilsands industry, the projected increase in oil production may seriously risk the achievement of Canada’s climate mitigation targets." The OECD analysis finds support in a report from two researchers from the University of Toronto, in “How the oil sands make our GHG targets unachievable” in Policy Options. The authors recommend a gradual (12-to-15-year) phase-out of oil sands operations, with workers and capital redeployed to emerging sectors such as renewable energy and building retrofits, and contend that the importance of oil sands production is overstated. Yet the federal government continues the difficult balancing act of a “have-it-all” approach. A recent blog by Patrick DeRochie of Environmental Defence, “Trudeau Thinks We Can Expand Oil And Still Reduce Carbon. Let’s Put That To A Test”, challenges this view. On December 29, Canada issued a press release announcing that it has submitted its Seventh National Communication and Third Biennial Report to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, required by the UNFCCC to document progress towards its 2030 greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal of 30% reduction from 2005 levels. Continue reading →

Alberta reports progress under Climate Leadership Plan, increases carbon levy
Climate Leadership Plan Progress Report 2016 – 2017, released in December 2017, summarizes and measures the outcomes for the programs initiated under the Climate Leadership Plan. The report includes a section on Skills and Employment, providing very basic measures of  “Green Skills Demand” and “Jobs Supported”. The Jobs Supported section estimates include total direct, indirect and induced jobs created, calculated by Statistics Canada and using an input-output (IO) model. It concludes that, in 2016-17, $311 million was invested back into the economy in programs and policies under the Climate Leadership Plan, which supported approximately 2700 jobs. Continue reading →

New Brunswick’s new Climate Change Act unlikely to meet the federal carbon pricing benchmark
The government of New Brunswick introduced its Climate Change Act on December 14, 2017. According to the government press release, the province will adopt the federal government’s intensity targets for the 10 large industrial emitters in the province, and will redirect existing taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel – but not heating fuel –  to a new Climate Change Fund. It forecasts that in 2018, 2.33 cents per litre of existing gasoline taxes and 2.76 cents per litre of existing diesel fuel taxes will be transferred to the Climate Change Fund, amounting to about $37 million, to be invested in infrastructure adaptation and energy efficiency improvements for homes, business, industry and transportation. For details, see the government Backgrounder and see the CBC analysis “Liberals’ sleight-of-hand carbon tax formally proposed in climate bill“(Dec. 14) for summary and reaction. Continue reading →

New Zero Emissions Standard takes effect in Quebec January 11, 2018
On December 27, Quebec enacted  a new Zero Emissions Vehicle Standard in the form of Final Regulations to Bill 104, An Act to increase the number of zero-emission motor vehicles in Quebec, (which passed in October 2016). The new Standard comes into effect January 11, 2018, and is meant to increase the supply so that 10% of new-vehicle sales or rentals in the province will consist of zero-emission vehicles (ZEV) or low-emission vehicles (LEV) by 2025. Continue reading →

U.K. Rolls out Green Policies, including Fighting Plastics, Phasing Out Coal, and Encouraging Divestment
Facing criticism for recent policy reversals which have resulted, for example, in falling investment in clean energy in the U.K. in 2016 and 2017, the government has recently attempted a re-set with its policy document: A Green Future: Our 25 Year Plan to Improve the Environment, released on January 11. “Conservatives' 25-year green plan: main points at a glance” (Jan. 11) in The Guardian summarizes the initiatives, which focused on reducing use of plastics (in line with a recent EU decision), encouraging wildlife habitat, and establishment of an environmental oversight body. In the lead-up to the long-term Green Future policy statement, other recent developments have  included: 1. Changes to investment regulations to encourage divestment, and 2. Emissions restrictions for coal-fired power generation, effectively eliminating it by 2025. 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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