Work and Climate Change Report
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10/18/2017 - Issue #70
 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).  |

Why gender matters when dealing with climate change
Climate Change and Gender in Rich Countries: Work, Public Policy and Action is a new book released in London by Routledge publishers, as part of its Studies in Climate, Work and Society series. Reviewers call it “path-breaking”,”timely”, “exciting”, “unique”, “excellent and wide-ranging” and judge that it “moves beyond common perceptions of women as vulnerable victims to show there are no universal experiences of climate change. Gender is highly relevant but in complex ways.” Editor Marjorie Griffin Cohen, Professor Emeritus of Political Science and Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, introduces the book by answering the question, “Why Gender Matters when Dealing with Climate Change”. 18 chapters follow, providing analysis and case studies from the U.K., Sweden, Australia, Canada, Spain and the U.S.. Continue reading →

Proposals for a green transition that is just and inclusive in Ontario
Decent Work in the Green Economy combines research on green transitions worldwide with the reality of labour market trends in Ontario, and includes economic modelling of Ontario’s cap and trade program, conducted by EnviroEconomics and Navius Research. The resulting analysis identifies which sectors are expected to grow strongly under a green transition (e.g. utilities and waste management and remediation), which will see lower growth (e.g. petroleum refining and petrochemical production), and which will see a transformation of skills requirements (e.g. mining, manufacturing, and forestry). The paper calls for a comprehensive Just Transition Strategy for Ontario, and proposes six core elements illustrated by case study “success stories”. The authors also call for better data collection to measure and monitor the link between green economy policies and employment outcomes, and better mechanisms for regular, ongoing dialogue. The report was published by the Mowat Centre at the University of Toronto, in cooperation with the Smart Prosperity Institute at the University of Ottawa on October 11. Continue reading →

The future of wind energy in Alberta
The Province of Alberta is reinventing its energy supply with its Renewable Electricity Program, which targets 30% of the province’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2030. To take stock of the province’s existing strengths, as well as gaps and opportunities related to that goal, the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) commissioned the Delphi Group to study the existing resources, including workforce skills, to support the growth of the wind industry. The resulting report, Alberta Wind Energy Supply Chain Study, concludes that if wind energy were to meet 90 per cent of the government’s commitment, it would result in an estimated $8.3 billion of investment in new wind energy projects in the province and almost 15,000 job years of employment by 2030. Many of the skills and occupations required to develop wind projects – such as engineering, construction, operations and maintenance – are transferable from the oil and gas sector. Continue reading →

First Nations, Renewable Energy, and the benefits of community-owned energy projects
The October 12 featured commentary, “BC First Nations are poised to lead the renewable energy transition”, was published by the Corporate Mapping Project, a research project led by the University of Victoria, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (BC and Saskatchewan Offices) and Parkland Institute. The commentary summarizes the results of a survey conducted for the B.C. First Nations Clean Energy Working Group which reveals that 98% of First Nations respondents were either interested in, or already participating in a renewable energy projects, with a growing interest in solar photovoltaic (PV), solar thermal, biomass and micro-hydro. The article also discusses the social and economic advantages of local, community-owned renewable energy, and highlights the survey responses which saw the B.C. Hydro Site C project as a barrier to local-level energy. A second survey of First Nations, at a national level, was reported by the CBC in “Indigenous communities embracing clean energy, creating thousands of jobs” (October 11). The national survey by Lumos Energy focuses on the job creation impacts of clean energy, and states that clean energy has produced “15,300 direct jobs for Indigenous workers who have earned $842 million in employment income in the last eight years.” Continue reading →

International action on Just Transition: what’s been accomplished, and proposals for the future
Just Transition – Where are we now and what’s next? A Guide to National Policies and International Climate Governance  was released on September 19 by the International Trade Union Confederation, summarizing what has been done to date by the ITUC and through  international agencies such as the ILO, UNFCCC, and the Paris Agreement. It also provides short summaries of some transition situations, including the Ruhr Valley in Germany, Hazelwood workers in the LaTrobe Valley, Australia, U.S. Appalachian coal miners and the coal mining pension plan, Argentinian construction workers, and Chinese coal workers. The report calls for concrete steps to advance Just Transition and workers’ interests. Just Transition – Where are we now and what’s next? is a Climate Justice Frontline Briefing from the International Trade Union Confederation, with support from the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung and is based upon Strengthening Just Transition Policies in International Climate Governance by Anabella Rosemberg, published as a Policy Analysis Brief by the Stanley Foundation in 2017. Continue reading →

Trade unions in the U.K. actively engaged in climate change policy, advocating for environmental representatives
Trade Unions in the UK: Engagement with climate change is a new report, based on research conducted between September 2016 and January 2017 by the Campaign Against Climate Change Trade Union Group. The report asks: what are the driving forces behind trade union engagement in climate change issues, and what are some of the barriers and difficulties for trade unions? It summarizes the results of interviews with policy officers and environmental activists from the largest 15 unions in the Trades Union Congress (TUC), as well as two smaller but active unions. The report is also based on the results of systematic searches of the unions’ websites and relevant policy documents (with links to key documents). It reveals an overview of the diversity and context of trade union climate policy, focusing on issues such as environmental representatives, energy supply, airport expansion, fracking and divestment from fossil fuels. Continue reading → 

Canadian government is falling short of GHG emissions targets, needs a plan to phase out fossil fuel subsidies
On October 3, Canada’s Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development tabled highly critical audit reports in the House of Commons. From the  Commissioner’s press release: “the government’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions have fallen short of its target and that overall, it is not preparing to adapt to the impacts of climate change. Only five of 19 government organizations had fully assessed their climate change risks and acted to address them.” The Commissioner also criticized the Department of Finance and Environment and Climate Change Canada for a “disconcerting lack of real results” towards meeting  Canada’s G20 commitment to phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies. The October 2017 federal audit reports are all available in English and in French. Continue reading →

Activists celebrate as the Energy East Pipeline is cancelled
On October 5, TransCanada Pipelines issued a press release, announcing that it would no longer proceed with the proposed Energy East pipeline and Eastern Mainline projects.  Accordingly, the National Energy Board Hearing Process has been closed, although documents remain on its website. Commentators trying to explain TransCanada’s decision focus on three principal reasons: the economics of falling oil prices, regional political forces, or the regulatory burden of pipeline approvals in Canada (especially since the Energy East review was required to account for upstream and downstream emissions). For overviews of the issues, read "Regulations alone didn't sink the Energy East pipeline" by Warren Mabee,Queen's University and ACW Co-Investigator in The Conversation (Oct. 15); "Five Things you need to know about the Cancellation of the Energy East Oilsands Pipeline" from DeSmog Canada, and "Energy East's cause of death: Business, politics or climate?", from CBC News, which describes the regional differences via reaction from Canadian provincial premiers. From the Globe and Mail, an editorial: “The death of Energy East was a Business Decision – Swimming in Politics”, which attributes the decision to Quebec opposition to Energy East, and the likely go-ahead of the Keystone XL pipeline in the U.S. Continue reading → 

The new British Columbia government tackles climate change policy and controversies: Site C, Kinder Morgan, and Carbon Tax neutrality
As the smoke from over 100 forest fires enveloped British Columbia during the summer of 2017, a new brand of climate change and environmental policy emerged after June 29, when the New Democratic Party (NDP) government assumed power. Premier John Horgan appointed Vancouver-area MLA George Heyman, a former executive director of Sierra Club B.C. and president of the B.C. Government Employees and Service Employees’ Union, as Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, with a mandate letter which directed Heyman to, among other priorities, re-establish a Climate Leadership team, set a new 2030 GHG reduction target, expand and increase the existing carbon tax, and “employ every tool available to defend B.C.’s interests in the face of the expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline.” A separate mandate letter to the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, directed the Minister to create a roadmap for the province’s energy future, to consider all Liquified Natural Gas proposals in light of the impact on climate change goals, to freeze hydro rates and to “immediately refer the Site C dam construction project to the B.C. Utilities Commission on the question of economic viability and consequences to British Columbians in the context of the current supply and demand conditions prevailing in the B.C. market.” What are the updates on those issues? Continue reading →

Unifor, Government visions for Sustainable Forestry
The Future of Forestry: A Workers Perspective for Successful, Sustainable and Just Forestry was released on October 16 by Unifor’s Forestry Industry Council, representing the union’s 24,000 members in the forestry sector. The report provides an overview of the size and health of the forestry industry, and after the past several years of declining employment, asks, “What could lie ahead?” The report sets out Unifor’s aims for each of five focal points in an integrated forestry policy, involving the federal and provincial governments and prioritizing the role of First Nations. A key message is the need to involve workers in a sustained dialogue for policy-making process: “forestry ministers must lead efforts to bring together business, government, labour, Indigenous leaders, environmental organizations and community leaders in a reinstated National Forestry Council.” The government’s point of view on the future of forestry  is provided in  A Forest Bioeconomy Framework for Canada, with the vision to make Canada “a global leader in the use of forest bio-mass for advanced bioproducts and innovative solutions” including as a source of renewable energy. The Framework document was released at the September annual meeting of the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers (CCFM). 
Continue reading →

Nova Scotia introduces Cap-and-Trade legislation
press release on September 29  announced that the Nova Scotia government has introduced amendments to the Environment Act, enabling regulations to set caps on GHG emissions, distribute and enable trading of emission allowances within the province, and set a province-wide greenhouse gas emission target for 2030.  The province will create a Green Fund to support climate change initiatives and innovations, and  money from emissions sales and fines will be deposited there.  Next steps include “developing greenhouse gas reporting regulations this fall and consulting with stakeholders on them”. Continue reading →

Victoria B.C. joins the movement for climate accountability, demanding compensation from Big Oil companies for climate change impacts
On October 12, the Council of Victoria B.C. voted unanimously to send a Climate Accountability Letter to twenty companies, including Exxon, Chevron and Shell, asking them to cover the costs the community is likely to  incur to plan for or recover from the impacts of climate change. The motion also included an agreement to call upon fellow local governments across Vancouver Island, British Columbia and Canada to write similar letters. Such letters are part of the Climate Law in our Hands campaign launched by West Coast Environmental Law and almost 50 other groups  in January 2017. The campaign is part of a growing movement to demand that the "Carbon Majors" - fossil fuel companies - take financial responsibility for the damages of climate change. Andrew Gage of WCEL compiled an excellent overview of new research and legal developments about Climate Accountability in September. Since then, San Francisco and Oakland, California became the latest and largest cities to sue the Carbon Majors: see “California leads the way: San Francisco and Oakland the latest to sue fossil fuel companies”
Continue reading →

Long-awaited Clean Growth Strategy of the U.K.-missing the workplace viewpoint
The British Government released its Clean Growth Strategy on October 12, outlining how it intends to reduce the country’s carbon emissions by 57 percent between 2020 and 2032. The Guardian summarizes the main provisions in “Draughty homes targeted in UK climate change masterplan” – describing it as “about 50 policies supporting everything from low-carbon power and energy savings to electric vehicles and keeping food waste out of landfill.” Although the government is given credit for a good start, the plan was generally seen as vague, insufficient to reach Britain’s GHG emission reduction goals, and – by the TUC – revealing a “ major blind spot towards working people who will create the clean economy”. 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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