Work and Climate Change Report
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04/17/2019 - Issue #82
 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).  |

Canada is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world – what should we do?
Canada’s Changing Climate Report (CCCR) was released on April 2 documenting the consensus of scientific experts from the federal government and academia, about how and why Canada’s climate has changed to date, with projections for the future. The main message is tipped by the title of the government’s press release: “Canada’s climate is warming twice as fast as global average”. Canada’s annual temperature over land has warmed on average 1.7 degrees Celsius between 1948 and 2016 (compared with the IPCC assessment of average global warming between 0.8 C and 1.2 C). Worse, in the Arctic, temperatures have risen by 2.3C – about three times the global average. In some parts of the Northwest Territories, temperatures have risen by between 4 C and 5 C. The report, available in English and in French, states: “A warmer climate will affect the frequency and intensity of forest fires, the extent and duration of snow and ice cover, precipitation, permafrost temperatures, and other extremes of weather and climate, as well as freshwater availability, rising of sea level, and other properties of the oceans surrounding Canada.”

Reaction from the Council of Canadians Blog is constructive: “Canada is warming faster than we thought. What can we do about it?” –urging readers to take individual action, including support for a Canadian Green New Deal. The Canadian climate change policy community will take longer to process the serious consequences of this scientific assessment. Continue reading →

B.C.’s Energy Step Code estimated to generate 1,700 jobs by 2032 while improving energy efficiency
The B.C. Energy Step Code, enacted in April 2017, is a voluntary standard which outlines an incremental approach to achieving more energy-efficient buildings in the province of British Columbia, over and above the requirements of the B.C. Building Code. According to a report released on March 7 by the Vancouver Economic Commission, the Energy Step Code has created a local market of $3.3 billion for green building products and the potential to create over 1,700 manufacturing and installation jobs between 2019–2032. Green Buildings Market Forecast: Demand for Building Products, Metro Vancouver, 2019–2032 along with a companion technical report, BC Energy Step Code Supply Chain Study – Final Report  (March 2019), describes the basics of the Energy Step Code, and provides regional data and demand estimates for various products such as high-performance windows, lighting, heat pumps and renewable energy systems. Employment impacts are not the main focus, but the report also estimates the potential job creation impact to be 925 sustainable manufacturing jobs throughout B.C., as well as 770 ongoing installation jobs in Metro Vancouver. Continue reading →

AFL-CIO Energy Committee releases letter opposing the Green New Deal and makes proposals of its own
letter, dated March 8, was addressed to Senator Ed Markey and Representative Alexandra Ocasio Cortez, and signed by Cecil Roberts, president of the United Mine Workers of America, and Lonnie Stephenson, president of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, on behalf of the AFL-CIO’s Energy Committee. The letter states: “..the Green New Deal resolution is far too short on specific solutions that speak to the jobs of our members and the critical sectors of our economy. It is not rooted in an engineering-based approach and makes promises that are not achievable or realistic.” “…We want to engage on climate issues in a manner that does not impinge on enacting other labor priorities, especially much-needed infrastructure legislation…”.

How they would engage and what they would propose is contained in a position paper posted on the IBEW website, and drafted by the IBEW, UMWA, and five other unions in the electric utility, construction, and rail transport sectors. The position paper, Preliminary Labor Positions on Climate Legislation, states their opposition to carbon tax legislation and grave concerns about the Green New Deal. It calls for comprehensive, economy wide climate legislation which would include a national emissions trading scheme, to be introduced no earlier than 10 years after enacting legislation, to allow for development of Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage (CCUS) technologies. It also calls for worker transition protections, including compensation and retraining. The policy document was submitted to the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee for the record of their February 6th meeting. Continue reading →

Amnesty International campaign calls for better mining, manufacture, and disposal of electric vehicle batteries
While the Nordic EV Summit in March 2019 showcased progress on the adoption of electric vehicles, Amnesty International used that backdrop to issue a challenge to leaders in the electric vehicle industry – to produce the world’s first completely ethical battery, free of human rights abuses within its supply chain, within five years. It is not news that the mining of cobalt and lithium, the two key minerals in batteries, has been linked to human rights abuses, environmental pollution, ecosystem destruction and indigenous rights violations. Amnesty was amongst the first to document the child labour and human rights abuses with a report This is what we die for  in 2016, updated in 2017 by an article, “The Dark Side of Electric Cars: Exploitative Labor Practices”. More recently, “Indigenous people’s livelihoods at risk in scramble for lithium, the new white gold“ appeared in The Ethical Corporation (April 9). In addition to the mining of raw materials, battery manufacturing has a high carbon footprint, with most of the current manufacturing concentrated in China, South Korea and Japan, where electricity generation remains dependent on coal and other polluting sources of power. Recognizing all these concerns, the new Amnesty International campaign is calling for: improvement in human rights practices in mining, and a prohibition on commercial deep-sea mining; disclosure and accounting for carbon in manufacturing, and for legal protection and enforcement of workplace rights such as health, equality and non-discrimination; finally for products to be designed and regulated to encourage re-use and penalize waste, with prevention of illegal or dangerous export and dumping of batteries. Continue reading → 

Just Transition guidebook includes case studies, methods of measuring employment impacts
Real People Real Change: Strategies for Just Energy Transitions  was officially launched at the Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue event on April 10, although published by The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) in December 2018. The IISD says “it is intended to support governments of both developed and developing countries in their efforts to make energy transitions just. It brings together political and communications strategies for a just transition, building on research and case studies of energy transitions that have happened or that are happening in Canada, Egypt, Indonesia, India, Poland and Ukraine.” The report highlights what it calls “a common “4C” framework“ that has been critical to several successful transitions: understanding the local context; identifying champions that can drive transition with various groups; making the case through transparent and effective stakeholder engagement; and developing complementary policies that support those who will be directly impacted by transition. It also includes Annex 1: Quantitative approaches for estimating employment impacts, which provides a brief overview and critical analysis of the unique challenges of measuring the transition pathway through its stages. Continue reading →

English language version of Germany’s Coal Transition Report now available, with independent analysis of employment impacts
The final Report of the German Commission for Growth, Structural Change and Employment (Coal Exit Commission) was delivered in January 2019, and is now available in an English language version. The Clean Energy Wire  is a German news service written in English, and updates the implementation of the Report’s recommendations. For example, an article from April 4 states that Germany’s federal government and coal mining states have agreed on a programme worth 260 million euros to provide fast support to regions affected by the coal exit – a first step in the estimated 40 billion euros needed over the next 20 years. On April 8, it published “Mining union wants more efforts to unleash energy transition’s job potentials”, providing an English language summary of German statements by the leader of IG BCE. Assessments and further discussion of the Commission’s report have been published by the Wuppertal Institute in Assessment of the Results of the Commission on Structural Change, and a detailed joint report from the German Institute for Economic Research, the Wuppertal Institute and the Ecologic Institute, Phasing Out Coal in the German Energy Sector: Interdependencies, Challenges And Potential Solutions. The Phasing Out report offers analysis of the employment impacts, with a successful transition relying heavily on retirement schemes. Continue reading →


Alberta elects United Conservative Party, promising a new climate policy, and to fight for the oil and gas industry
Citizens of the province of Alberta woke up to a new government on April 17th, with the election of the United Conservative Party (UCP), led by Jason Kenney. After what Macleans magazine called “The most visceral Alberta election campaign in memory“ and CBC called “toxic” and “divisive”, the UCP election platform, Alberta Strong and Free will begin to unfold, based on the promise to “fight without relent to build pipelines. We will stand up for Alberta and demand a fair deal in Canada. We will fight back against the foreign funded special interests who are trying to landlock our energy.” The CBC analysis of the election outlines further implications for the rest of Canada in "Jason Kenney won big — and the Ottawa-Alberta relationship is about to get unruly” , which highlights Kenney’s combative style, his antipathy to the current Liberal government of Justin Trudeau, and his close connections with the federal Conservative party (having served in Stephen Harper’s government). The National Observer sums up what to expect: “Jason Kenney’s United Conservatives issue warning to Suzuki Foundation after winning Alberta majority” 

Union voices were strong in the Alberta Election: The Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) was extremely active in support of the NDP, with a “Next Alberta” campaign built around the AFL 12 Point Plan. With a very pragmatic orientation, the Plan makes no mention of “Just Transition” or coal phase-out, and indicating that the emissions reduction goal “should be to make sure that Alberta is last heavy oil producer standing in an increasingly carbon constrained world.” A summary of the Plan can be read on the WCR blog here (March 15). The AFL also commissioned a report by Hugh Mackenzie: The Employment Impact of Election Promises: Analysis of budgetary scenarios of UCP and NDP platforms , which concluded: “Under the Notley budget plan, 5500 jobs would be lost. Under the Kenny budget plan between 58,000-85,000 jobs would be lost – more than were lost in the recession of 2015-16.” President of the AFL, Gil McGowan, discussed the report in an Opinion Piece, “How NOT to fix Alberta’s hurting jobs economy”  in The TyeeContinue reading →

Canadian kids out in force for the global Fridays for Future climate strike
The global movement that is the #Fridays for Future climate strike, inspired by Greta Thunberg, exceeded all expectations for the number of demonstrators and the number of locations on March 15. In Canada, students marched in 55 cities, with the greatest showing in Montreal –  150,000 strikers – a greater turnout than Paris, London, Sydney, or almost any of the hundreds of cities and towns which participated. The Energy Mix highlights the global successes in “1.4 million students in 128 countries make March 15 #schoolstrike a global phenomenon” (March 15). Of the many youth organizers across Canada, two have received special attention. Sophie Mathur of Sudbury, aged 11, and Rebecca Hamilton of Vancouver, aged 16. Sophie Mathur was the first Canadian to take up the call of Greta Thunberg and Rebecca Hamilton is a founding member of Sustainabiliteens, which organized the school strike in Vancouver. Local media began to take note of the demonstrations, and hopefully will be there to document the next big student protest: a Canada-wide strike on May 3.
There are also a few statements of support from unions, including the B.C. Teachers Federation, Education International and the International Trade Union Confederation which issued a statement of support which includes: “Unions in Australia, Belgium, France, Italy, the UK and elsewhere are taking part and many others are active in mobilising their members” and “Taking inspiration from young people, union representatives in workplaces will, in the last week of June, invite employers to sit down with the workers in workplaces to discuss plans to reduce emissions and climate proof workplaces.” Continue reading →

Canadian government funds new Climate Change research network
Environment and Climate Change Canada announced a new consortium on April 9, to be called the Pan-Canadian Expert Collaboration, and to be chaired by Blair Feltmate, Head of the Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation at the University of Waterloo. The Collaboration brings together fifteen Canadian research institutes, to provide independent, informed advice to policy-makers, mainly on the issues of clean energy, carbon pricing and adaptation. The researchers were chosen after an extensive competition, begun in October 2018, and the project will be eligible to receive up to $20 million over five years – assuming the Liberal government remains in power in Ottawa after the 2019 election. Goals of the initiative are contained in the Discussion Paper and the briefer government Backgrounder which lists the fifteen research organizations chosen to participate. As of April 10, the only coverage comes from The National Observer, “Skeptical of Trudeau’s carbon pricing? There’s an institute for that” (April 9). Continue reading →

Budget 2019 provides modest funding for climate change improvements – Just Transition, electric vehicles, energy efficiency
No clean economy vision is evident in the pre-election budget , Investing in the Middle Class, delivered by Canada’s Finance Minister on March 19. The National Observer has a Special Report on Budget 2019, composed of twelve focused articles covering the range of notable provisions. Mitchell Beer provides a good summary of the Budget’s climate-related provisions, in “Morneau’s Pre-Election Budget Boosts ZEVs and Energy Retrofits, Extends New Fossil Subsidy” in the Energy Mix (March 20). The Budget plan text on Just Transition reiterates the previous Budget’s pledge of $35 million over five years for Just Transition of coal workers. In its reaction, the Canadian Labour Congress acknowledges the new pledge of $150 million in infrastructure funding to directly assist resource-based municipalities, but quotes Hassan Yussuff, Co-Chair of Canada’s Task Force on Just Transition: “… [Canada’s unions] are disappointed to see that the government has not addressed key Task Force recommendations to support workers, in terms of income, training and reemployment needs. Without this, workers will be left behind.” More details appear in “Coal workers get cash in budget but lack of details risks ‘major blowback” in the National Observer (March 19), including that the $150 million infrastructure funding will not flow until the 2020-2021 fiscal year. 

Other reactions: Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party is quoted in that article, and says that the climate provisions are “pathetic” – a similar reaction to that of Environmental Defence, which states more diplomatically that “funding for climate change in this budget does not match the scale of the challenge”. Similarly, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) reaction judges the climate provisions as “modest efforts to move forward on greening the economy”, although calls the just transition plan “an important precedent.” In addition, Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood from the CCPA, weighed in with his overall analysis, in “Budget fiddles while climate crisis burns” (March 20). Similarly, Climate Action Network Canada states that “business as usual policy is no longer acceptable to respond to the climate crisis and the level of climate action that citizens, students, workers and communities are urgently demanding.” Continue reading →

Canadian-made Pacifica van priced out of Electric Vehicle incentives in Budget 2019- layoffs announced at Windsor van plant
Canada’s federal Budget 2019 delivered on March 19 included a number of policies aimed at speeding up EV adoption: a 2040 deadline to phase out new internal combustion vehicle sales, $130 million over the next five years to build electric vehicle charging stations, and consumer rebates for purchases of electric and hybrid vehicles ($5000 for purchases under $45K). On March 22, CTV Windsor reported on a protest rally by Unifor Local 444 and local NDP politicans, who are infuriated that the EV consumer incentives program carries a price limit set at $45K – which excludes the Canadian-built Pacifica Hybrid, priced at $54,000. Brian Masse, NDP Member of Parliament for Windsor-West is promoting a petition demanding to have all Canadian-built hybrids, including the Pacifica Hybrid, added to the list of incentive-eligible vehicles. In addition, on March 28, the Windsor Star reported “FCA Canada to stop third shift at Windsor Assembly Plant, cutting 1,500 jobs”. The article quotes a company email which states: “In order to better align production with global demand at its Windsor Assembly Plant, FCA notified Unifor today that it intends to return the plant to a traditional two-shift operation, beginning Sept. 30, 2019. ….Retirement packages will be offered to eligible employees. The Company will make every effort to place indefinitely laid off hourly employees in open full-time positions as they become available based on seniority. ”Continue reading →

Ontario Environmental Commissioner report falls on deaf ears as Ford government slashes energy efficiency programs, attacks carbon pricing (again)
A Healthy, Happy, Prosperous Ontario: Why we need more energy conservation is the final report of Ontario’s Environmental Commissioner Dianne Saxe, released on March 27. The report documents the province’s energy use, argues for the value of energy conservation, and makes recommendations: for improving utility conservation programs and energy efficiency programs for homeowners, and for urban planning policies to promote greater population density in “compact, complete communities” with jobs, transit and housing. The official summary of the report is herea summary was published by The National Observer on March 27. This is the final report of the Environmental Commissioner because the ECO Office has fallen to the pro-business agenda of the Doug Ford government: after April 1, it no longer acts as an independent agency reporting directly to the Legislature, but will be merged into the Office of the Auditor General. As the Ford government continues its attacks on carbon pricing, a March 25 press release, “Ontario closes the book on cap and trade carbon tax era”,  announces that “the total compensation amount is $5,090,000 for a total of 27 participants” as a result of the Cap and Trade Cancellation Act, 2018 (Oct. 2018) in addition to referring to the carbon tax as “job-killing” and a “cash-grab”. The province’s court challenge to the federal policy opened in Toronto on April 15, with CBC livestreaming from the courtroom. The EcoFiscal Commission is the latest to defend carbon pricing, with 10 Myths about Carbon Pricing in CanadaContinue reading →

Canadian banks still investing in yesterday’s economy – fossil fuels
Banking on Climate Change – Fossil Fuel Finance Report Card 2019, is the 10th annual report by BankTrack and a coalition of advocacy groups. It has been expanded to include coal and gas investors, as well as oil, as it ranks and exposes the investment practices of 33 of the world’s largest banks. It reveals that $1.9 trillion has been invested in fossil fuels since the Paris Agreement, with the four biggest investors all U.S. banks – JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citi and Bank of America. Canadian banks also rank high: RBC ranks fifth, TD ranks 8th, Scotiabank ranks 9th, and Bank of Montreal ranks 15th. Among those investing in tar sands oil: “five of the top six tar sands bankers between 2016 and 2018 are Canadian, with RBC and TD by far the two worst.”
In addition to the investment tallies, the report analyzes the banks’ performance on human rights, particularly Indigenous rights, as it relates to the impacts of specific fossil fuel projects, and climate change in general. In response to the Banking on Climate Change report, SumofUs has mounted an online petition: It’s time for TD, RBC and Scotiabank stop funding climate chaos.  An Opinion piece in The Tyee, “How Citizens can stop the big five” calls for a citizens’ strike on Canadian banks – particularly by young people and future mortgage investors, and points out the alternatives: credit unions, non-bank mortgage brokers, and ethical investment funds. With the Expert Panel on Sustainable Finance scheduled to report shortly, the Bank of Canada announced on March 27 that it has joined the Central Banks’ and Supervisors’ Network for Greening the Financial System (NGFS), an international body established in December 2017 to promote best practices in climate risk management for the financial sector. Continue reading →

U.K. makes progress on a Green New Deal amid the chaos of Brexit
“How Brexit will impact the UK’s environmental policy”, published in Medium, provides a good summary of the specifics of Brexit, and an active website publishes analysis by “a network of impartial academic experts analysing the implications of Brexit for UK and EU environmental policy and governance”. Greener UK, a network of 14 environmental NGOs, is also focused on Brexit “in the belief that leaving the EU is a pivotal moment to restore and enhance the UK’s environment.” But while Brexit rages, and the country awaits the May 2 publication of recommendations on long term net zero emission targets by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), the Decarbonisation and Economic Strategy Bill was tabled in the House of Commons by two members of Parliament – Green Party member Caroline Lucas and Labour Party member Clive Lewis. Although the bill doesn’t use the term “Green New Deal”, Caroline Lucas does in her Opinion piece in The Guardian, “The answer to climate breakdown and austerity? A green new deal” (March 27). The official summary of the Bill appears on page 7 of the parliamentary Order Paper for March 26 including a 10-year timeline with reporting requirements, and a stated goal for community and employee-led transition from high-carbon to low and zero-carbon industry, and the eradication of inequality. Continue reading →

United Nations reports warn of health impacts of climate change, thawing Arctic
The Fourth United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) convened from March 11 – 15 in Nairobi, Kenya, under the sombre cloud of the crash of Ethiopian Airlines which killed many, including Canadians, on their way to attend the meetings. The flagship report, produced by 250 global scientists and experts, is the Sixth Global Environmental Outlook, which the UN press release calls “the most comprehensive and rigorous assessment on the state of the environment completed by the UN in the last five years.. warning that damage to the planet is so dire that people’s health will be increasingly threatened unless urgent action is taken.” It warns that, without such urgent action, cities and regions in Asia, the Middle East and Africa could see millions of premature deaths by 2050, with pollutants in freshwater systems leading to deaths through increased anti-microbial resistance, as well as impacts on male and female fertility and impaired neurodevelopment of children, from endocrine disruptors. A 28-page Summary for Policymakers is available in multiple languages besides English, including French. Regional reports are compiled here, including The Assessment and Data Report for North America. The official documents from the UNEA meetings are compiled here, including the closing press release summary, “World pledges to protect polluted, degraded planet as it adopts blueprint for more sustainable future”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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