Work and Climate Change Report
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05/31/2017 - Issue #66
 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).  |

A shorter work week can slow climate change in a post-growth economy
Two recent articles have been added to the long-standing discussion of the “degrowth” movement – including about the potential of a shorter work week to make an impact on climate change. In relation to their recently published book, “Just Cool It! The Climate Crisis and What we can do, David Suzuki and co-author Ian Hanington posted a blog on May 11: “Long work hours don’t work for people or the planet”. They reference the U.K. thinktank New Economics Foundation, which in 2010 proposed “21 Hours – the case for a shorter work week”. Another recent article, “How to kick the growth addiction” was posted at The Great Transition Initiative website and re-posted by Resilience on May 17. The article is a transcript of an interview with ecological economist Tim Jackson, the author of the classic book, Prosperity Without Growth: Foundations for the Economy of Tomorrow. It provides some insight into Jackson’s latest thinking  about a “post-growth” economy. Continue reading →

How to phase out Alberta’s Oil Sands by 2040, including Just Transition principles
Gordon Laxer, Professor emeritus at the University of Alberta and founding director of the Parkland Institute, has released a new report, Act or be Acted Upon. The case for phasing out Alberta’s Sands. He summarized the report in an article, “The case for phasing out Alberta’s Tar Sands”, which appeared in Resilience on May 23. His report discusses the market forces acting on the oil sands, examines Ontario’s experience and Alberta’s current efforts at phasing out coal-fired power, and calls for a permanent moratorium on new oil sands projects and a schedule for shutting down older projects that have paid off their capital costs. He concludes with a brief discussion of Just Transition principles. Continue reading →
Buildings and Infrastructure: the state of Canadian adaptation to climate change
The National Infrastructure and Buildings Climate Change Adaptation State of Play Report  was released on May 18, providing a gold mine of detail about the current Canadian system of climate change adaptation, and how it affects water infrastructure, transportation systems, telecommunications, and buildings. The report identifies a wide range of barriers and problems to adaptation progress, but also provides case studies of innovative initiatives, and compiles a list of 62 “opportunities or next steps” for those identified as the key actors – all levels of government, private companies, professional associations, and citizens. The report will be one of many inputs to the Infrastructure and Buildings Working Group of Canada’s Climate Change Adaptation Platform  in their discussions of their work plan for the next four years. Continue reading →

Scrap the Infrastructure Bank, says CUPE
The federal government first announced its plans for an Infrastructure Bank in the Fall 2016 Economic Statement, and fleshed out an implementation schedule and funding in the Budget released in March 2017. The Infrastructure Bank website here describes: "If approved by Parliament, the Bank would invest $35 billion from the federal government into transformative infrastructure projects." This includes investment into the public transit systems, trade and transportation corridors and green infrastructure projects. It will function as an arms-length Crown corporation “and would work with provincial, territorial, municipal, Indigenous, and private sector investment partners to attract pension funds and other institutional investors to new revenue-generating infrastructure projects that are in the public interest.” The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) is leading the union charge of criticism, mostly on the grounds that the infrastructure bank encourages and enables privatization of public projects. Continue reading → 

IRENA forecasts 24 million renewable energy jobs worldwide by 2030
In its fourth annual report, Renewable Energy and Jobs – Annual Review 2017, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) presents statistics on renewable energy employment, both by technology and in selected countries. For this 2017 edition, it includes statistics for large-scale hydropower, and also the results for a workplace survey in the Middle East and North Africa on barriers to women in clean energy labour markets. The worldwide statistics show that renewable energy employed 9.8 million people in 2016 – a 1.1% increase over 2015. IRENA predicts that “the number of people working in the renewables sector could reach 24 million by 2030, more than offsetting fossil-fuel job losses and becoming a major economic driver around the world”.
  Continue reading →


Federal government releases “Backstop” policies for provinces not already pricing carbon – Comment period open till June 30
Most provinces, representing 97% of the population, already have, or are in the process of designing, their own carbon pricing systems – British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, and Nova Scotia (in process). On May 18, the Government of Canada addressed the remaining 3%  – most notably in the province of Saskatchewan –  with the release of its Technical Paper on the Federal Carbon Pricing Backstop. Public comments about the Technical Paper will be accepted until June 30, and will be used to design the final carbon system and enabling legislation and regulations. A sampling of reaction gives the government high marks for protecting Canadian competitiveness while reducing emissions
Continue reading →

Catching up to the transportation revolution: Canada will have a national electric vehicle strategy by 2018
On May 26, Canada’s Minister of Transportation announced that Canada will develop a national electric vehicle strategy by 2018 in consultation with provincial and territorial governments, as promised in the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change agreement. A national Advisory Group has already been established to develop options in five areas: vehicle supply, cost and benefits of ownership, infrastructure readiness, public awareness, and clean growth and clean jobs. Canada is playing catch-up with the rest of the world, going by Three Revolutions in Urban Transportation which states: “The world is on the cusp of three revolutions in transportation: vehicle electrification, automation, and widespread shared mobility (sharing of vehicle trips). Separately or together, these revolutions will fundamentally change urban transportation around the world over the next three decades.” Continue reading →

Still advocating for Environmental Rights as Human Rights. Evidence from Alberta, and innovative proposals for Nova Scotia
The Pembina Institute has published The Right to a Healthy Environment: Documenting the need for environmental rights in Canada. It consists of: Case Study #1: Individual impacts of intensive hydraulic fracturing activity in rural Alberta; #2 Community impacts of air pollution in urban central Alberta (related to coal-fired electricity plants), and #3 Regional impacts of oilsands development in northern Alberta (which examines the rights of First Nations). The goal is to document the adverse effects on individuals, communities and regions that result from weak environmental laws or regulatory enforcement. And in Nova Scotia, a Working Group of the East Coast Environmental Law Association released proposals for a Nova Scotia Environmental Bill of Rights which states that people “have a right to a healthy and ecologically balanced environment”, and that the “primary responsibility” to protect and conserve that environment falls to the province. It also calls for environmental justice to remedy a history of environmental racism in the province. 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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