Work and Climate Change Report
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11/15/2017 - Issue #71
 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).  |

Alberta unveils its Just Transition plan for coal workers 
On November 10, the government of Alberta released the Recommendations of the Advisory Panel on Coal Communities – 35 recommendations to promote a just transition from coal-mining, necessitated by the government’s Climate Leadership Plan to phase-out coal-fired electricity by 2030. The Advisory Panel focuses on three areas: workers, communities and First Nations. The 18 recommendations regarding workers relate to income security and replacement, pension security, retraining and re-employment – and recommend a strong role for unions in planning and process. In addition, a $40-million transition fund for workers and communities was announced. Details are here. Alberta is calling on the federal government to make changes to the Employment Insurance (EI) program immediately, so that coal workers could  receive income support from Alberta without reducing their EI income, and to also extend the duration of EI benefits for coal workers. Continue reading →

Quebec Pension fund leads the way in low-carbon investing in Canada
The Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) is Canada’s second largest pension fund, with $286.5 billion under management for the  public and parapublic pension plans of Quebec workers. On October 18, the Caisse burnished its existing reputation as a responsible investor by releasing  “Our Investment Strategy to address Climate Change”, a detailed strategy document which pledges to factor climate change into every investment decision. The CDPQ will increase its low-carbon investments by 50% by 2020, and reduce the carbon intensity of its portfolio by 25% by 2025 across all asset classes. According to an article in the Montreal Gazette, “the Caisse is the first fund in North America, and only the second in the world — after the New Zealand Superannuation Fund — to adopt this type of approach.” Continue Reading →

Union conference focus: fighting climate change with innovative campaigns
Labour and climate activists gathered at the Second Labor Convergence on Climate event, held on September 23-24, under the banner “Building Worker Power to Confront Climate Change.” The meeting was hosted by the Labor Network for Sustainability (LNS), which recently released a report on the meetings summarizing impressive initiatives and projects. A Canadian example: the Canadian Postal Workers Union proposal Delivering Community Power, which envisions expansion and re-purposing of the postal station network to provide electric vehicle charging stations, farm-to-table food delivery, and community banking. In the U.S., Net-Zero Energy training facility built by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 595 in partnership with the Northern California National Electrical Contractors Association; the United Food and Commercial Workers and the Good Food Purchasing Policy; and the International Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen Green Diesel campaign to win cleaner fuel engines and expand rail service in a visionary strategy called  “Solutionary Rail”. Continue reading →

AFL-CIO Convention adopts historic Climate Change resolution
The 2017 Convention of the AFL-CIO took place in St. Louis from October 22 to 25. In a breakthrough, Resolution 55 on Climate Change, Energy and Union Jobs was adopted, putting the AFL-CIO “on the  record” as  recognizing the threat of  climate change and acknowledging the need to move to a sustainable alternative energy system. The resolution also calls for workers impacted by the energy transition to be protected. The floor debate is available on YouTube, showing supportive speeches by members of  the Utility Workers, IBEW, LIUNA, USW, the Boilermakers, CWA,  AFA, the Montana AFL-CIO and the Southeast Minnesota Area Labor Council. The full list of Adopted Resolutions from the 2017 AFL CIO Convention is here. The Labor Network for Sustainability has archived past resolutions by U.S. labour unions to their own conventions. Continue reading →

Exceptional growth in clean energy jobs forecast for Europe and the U.S.
SolarPower Europe, together with consultants EY, published Solar PV Jobs & Value Added in Europe  in early November, concluding that Europe is poised for a solar jobs revival after several years of policy-driven uncertainty. The report discusses the policy environment, including trade policies, makes job projections, and estimates the socio-economic impact per segment of the value chain. It also forecasts a job growth rate of 145% in the next 5 years. A report from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) examines the current Clean Energy Industry in the 2017 Clean Energy Industry Report. It shows a 3.4% employment growth rate for clean energy between December 2015 to December 2016 (surpassing the economy as a whole), with growth projected to double again to 7% by the end of 2017. And finally, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released its employment projections for the entire U.S. economy till 2026. It identifies the 30 fastest growing occupations, 6 of which are in energy production. Employment for solar photovoltaic (PV) installers is expected to grow extremely fast (105.3 percent). Continue reading →

New York marks Superstorm Sandy 5-year Anniversary in a big way: Climate Jobs Summit, Clean Energy Jobs Report, and expansion of New York’s Green Bank
The Climate Jobs Now! Summit was held on October 27, in partnership with the Office of New York Governor Cuomo, Climate Jobs NY, and the Workers Institute, ILR Cornell University. The event was built around the theme, Reversing Inequality and Combatting Climate Change: A New Era for States and Regions, with participants and speakers from New York labour unions, government, and climate advocates. The Closing Panel, “Fulfilling the Promise of a Just Transition for All New Yorkers through Clean Energy and Community Resilience” included John Cartwright, President of the Toronto & York Region Labour Council. Also on October 27, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) released the 2017 Clean Energy Industry Reportwhich found that clean energy jobs employed 146,000 New Yorkers at the end of 2016 and is growing faster than the economy as a whole.
 And finally, the Governor’s office announced that the New York Green Bank is seeking to raise at least an additional $1 billion in private-sector funds to expand the availability of financing for clean energy projects. Continue reading →


Keeping up with COP23 in Bonn – What should Canadians know? What should workers know?
The official COP23 press releases and documents are available in English and in French. The official Canadian government statement of what Canada hopes to achieve at COP23 is here. Read our full blog post for a list of useful weblinks and Twitter feeds, to help follow the events, side events and protests – including the Just Transition side event organized by the Canadian Labour Congress on November 13. Continue reading →

The Lancet measures the impact of climate change on public health, productivity and offers a policy proposals for Canada
The Lancet Countdown: Tracking Progress on Health and Climate Change is a global, interdisciplinary research collaboration which has published an annual review since 2016.  The Lancet Countdown’s 2017 Report tracks 40 indicators across five areas, and concludes that the human symptoms of climate change are unequivocal and potentially irreversible. Of particular interest, Indicator 1.3 states that  “global physical labour capacity in populations exposed to temperature change has decreased by around 5.3% between 2000 and 2016.” In addition to the global report, the Lancet Countdown produces country-specific reports; the Briefing for Canadian Policy-makers was written in partnership with the Canadian Public Health Association. It  makes several recommendations for Canadian action, including: phase out coal-powered electricity in Canada by 2030 or sooner; develop a National Active Transport Strategy for Canada to coordinate improvements to walking, cycling and transit environments; enhance support for telecommuting,
 and increase funding for research into the local health impacts of resource extraction, with a focus on impacts on Indigenous populations. Continue reading →

B.C. Climate Solutions and Clean Growth Advisory Council established to guide provincial policy
On October 23, the British Columbia Government announced the appointment of  the Climate Solutions and Clean Growth Advisory Council, to “provide advice to government on actions and policies that can contribute to carbon pollution reductions and optimize opportunities for sustainable economic development and job creation." The formal Terms of Reference are here. The Advisory Council is a permanent group comprised of  22 members, some of whom advised the Liberal governments’ 2016 Climate Leadership Plan; members are appointed for two year, renewable terms. The Co-Chairs are Merran Smith, Executive Director, Clean Energy Canada and Marcia Smith, Senior Vice-President of Sustainability and External Affairs, Teck Resources Limited. A full list of members is available –  notably, it includes Lee Loftus, Executive Director of the British Columbia and Yukon Territory Building and Construction Trades Council, (a partner organization with the Adapting Canadian Work and Workplaces to Respond to Climate Change (ACW) project). Continue reading →

Final report on Site C dam leaves B.C. government to decide: continue or terminate the multi-billion dollar project?
On November 1, the British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC) released its Final Report to the Government on the Inquiry Respecting Site C, the most controversial energy project in the province. (A 20-page Executive Summary is here). BCUC concurs with previous criticisms that B.C. Hydro’s forecast for electricity demand had been “excessively optimistic”, and that the project is likely to run late and over budget – possibly costing more than $10 billion. The BCUC Final Report does not make recommendations, but presents detailed information on the costs of three alternatives: continuing and completing the project, terminating it, or suspending it. The report also considers the potential of  alternative, renewable energy options of wind, geothermal, and industrial conservation. It concludes that suspending the project and re-starting it later is too expensive an option, leaving  the provincial Government to decide: continue, or terminate Site C. The government response states that “we anticipate a decision by the end of the year.” Continue reading →

Made-in-Manitoba Green Plan proposes a $25 per tonne carbon tax
On October 27, the Conservative Government of Manitoba released  a discussion paper, The Made-in-Manitoba Climate and Green Plan , which announces a vision for the province to be Canada’s “cleanest, greenest and most climate resilient province.” It opens a brief public consultation period  till November 30,  with proposals organized around four stated “pillars”: climate, jobs, water and infrastructure. The Discussion Paper  proposes dozens of possible initiatives, including electrification of Winnipeg’s transit, encouraging biofuels (e.g. by raising the provincial biodiesel mandate from two per cent to five per cent), and improving waste management to reduce methane emissions, among many others. The report presents potential initiatives to create jobs and to improve skills and training. Manitoba’s Discussion Paper also proposes a carbon tax of $25 per tonne to remain in place till 2022 (only half of what the federal Framework Agreement calls for), with farm fuel use exempt. Continue reading →

Ontario continues its commitment to nuclear power in newly-released 2017 Long-Term Energy Plan
On October 26, Ontario’s Minister of Energy  released the 2017 Long-Term Energy Plan – Delivering Fairness and Choice (LETP), an update of previous versions in 2010 and 2013. The LTEP summarizes Ontario’s energy policies to date and forecasts demand for the future. There was mixed reaction to the LTEP, notably around the continued emphasis on nuclear energy: the Power Workers Union, which continues to lobby for nuclear power , calls the new LTEP “good news for the environment and the economy”; the David Suzuki Foundation calls it worrisome because of “ its embrace of nuclear power and its lack of a road map to expand renewable energy.” … “ the province’s continued reliance on nuclear for about half its power is troubling. In addition to concerns around uranium mining and waste disposal, nuclear has not proven to be cost-effective.”
 Continue reading →

Quebec launches public consultation on energy transition
On October 17, Transition énergétique Québec (TEQ) announced  the launch of a public consultation process on Nov. 6 and to continue until Dec. 3, 2017, regarding the province’s proposed Master Plan for Energy Transition for the next five years. In addition to compiling public input, TEQ will host thematic workshops focused on residential building, commercial and institutional building, passenger and freight transportation, industry, innovation, bioenergy and land-use planning. The Consultation website is available in French only; the TEQ English website has not yet been updated with any information about the consultation process. 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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