Work and Climate Change Report
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06/28/2017 - Issue #68
 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
This is the last issue of Work and Climate Change Report you will receive until September, when we will return with our former once per month frequency. We wish everyone a summer of inspiration and rejuvenation.

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).  |

Parliamentary committee recommends a legislated right to a healthy environment in its review of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act
On June 15, the Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development tabled its report, Healthy Environment, Healthy Canadians, Healthy Economy: Strengthening the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (available also in French). Called a “ground-breaking” report by the David Suzuki Foundation, this review of  the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) makes 87 recommendations to modernize the law. The Ecojustice blog, “Much to celebrate in committee report on Canadian Environmental Protection Act” summarizes some of the recommendations, including the introduction of national drinking water and air quality standards. Most important, however, is the recommendation that the Act recognize and protect the right of every person in Canada to a healthy environment – a right recognized in 110 other countries. The Minister of Environment and Climate Change, and eventually Cabinet, will consider the report, with legislation expected in the fall. Continue reading →

An agenda for U.S. progressive unions: Resist, reclaim, restructure for climate justice and energy democracy
Towards a Progressive Labor Vision for Climate Justice and Energy Transition in the Time of Trump was released on June 1 by Trade Unions for Energy Democracy and submitted for discussion to Labor for Our Revolution; a network of unions and labor activists engaged in campaigns to support workers’ rights and contribute to building a broader movement for social and economic justice, which grew out of the Bernie Sanders Presidential campaign. This is a new discussion paper by Sean Sweeney and John Treat, acknowledging the work of the progressive unions affiliated with the Labor Network for Solidarity and Trade Unions for Energy Democracy, and proposing an “ambitious and effective agenda for progressive labor to respond to the converging environmental crises, and to pursue a rapid, inclusive approach to energy transition and social justice.” The authors look internationally for inspiration, and propose “an ambitious, pro-active, independent, labor-led program of action”, built on actions  which “resist, reclaim, restructure”, with Just Transition, Solidarity, and Internationalism as important principles.  Continue reading → 

U.K. Unions call for Transformative Transition and Energy Democracy
The Public and Commercial Services Union of the U.K. (PCS), with 180,000 civil service members, chose its annual delegate conference in late May to release Just transition and Energy Democracy, a thorough discussion of climate change impacts and solutions. The paper argues for energy democracy as a fundamental right, and references a 2016 report Public ownership of the UK energy system – benefits, costs and processes, which states that energy democracy is necessary for the development of renewable energy and financially possible to achieve. Just Transition and Energy Democracy sets out a framework for the public sector role in this energy transition. Step one in the process would be the creation of a National Climate Service similar to the U.K.’s National Health Service (NHS), to ensure there is a body to create the jobs needed to lower greenhouse gas emissions. Continue reading →


$2 Billion Low-Carbon Economy Fund announced, but Saskatchewan headed in a different direction
On June 15, Canada’s Federal Environment and Climate Minister announced details of the  government’s five-year, $2-billion Low Carbon Economy Fund , to support the goals of the  Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change. The Low Carbon Economy Fund consists of two parts: the larger, Leadership Fund of $1.4 billion, for projects proposed by provinces and territories that have signed on Pan-Canadian Framework, and the Low Carbon Economy Challenge, which will be launched in fall 2017, to support projects submitted by all provinces and territories, municipalities, Indigenous governments and organizations, businesses and both not-for-profit and for-profit organizations. As described in “’Only fair’: McKenna on excluding Saskatchewan, Manitoba from $2B carbon fund”, Manitoba and Saskatchewan must sign on to the Pan-Canadian Framework by December 2017 to be eligible to receive any funding. Continue reading →

Alberta Oil Sands Advisory Group recommends a roadmap for the 100 megatonne emissions cap
The provincial government released the consensus report of Phase 1 of the Alberta Oil Sands Advisory Group on June 16 – proposing  a process to comply with the the legislated 100 megatonne emissions limit for oil and gas production, as required by the Climate Leadership Plan. The recommendations for early action focus on encouraging lower emission intensity production through technological innovation, and building information and reporting systems to drive improvements. Those information systems could also trigger reviews and possible penalties if emissions approach 80% or 95% of the 100 megatonne limit. An article in the Edmonton Journal provides commentary from the oil industry perspective. The Executive Summary of the report is here; the full Report is here. The government will start consultations with key stakeholders immediately, before proceeding with Phase 2 of policy design. The goal is to have regulations in place by 2018. Continue reading →

Transform TO will reduce Toronto’s emissions by 80 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050
John Cartwright, President of the Toronto & York Region Labour Council, wrote an Opinion piece “How Toronto could lead the climate change charge in Canadian cities”, which appeared in the National Observer on June 15. The focus of Cartwright’s article is the Transform TO plan currently being debated in Toronto City Council after two years of public engagement, expert input and in-depth analysis. Cartwright is member of the cross-sectoral Modelling Advisory Group that informed the Transform TO project. The target is to reduce carbon emissions by 80 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050. Details of the plan are presented in Staff Report #1, approved by City Council in December 2016, and Staff Report #2, approved by the Environment and Parks committee in May, and slated for a Council vote in early July. Continue reading →

The complex challenge of emissions reduction in the movement of goods
The State of Freight: Understanding greenhouse gas emissions from goods movement in Canada is a detailed examination of the factors driving the increase of emissions from goods movement, and the complex of federal, provincial, and municipal programs and legislation. The report makes a convincing case for the importance of this issue: Freight (defined as road, rail, ship and plane), accounted for 10.5 per cent of total emissions in Canada in 2015; freight is the fastest-growing segment of the transportation sector, and the transportation sector is the second highest source of emissions in Canada. The State of Freight  identifies as the key opportunities to reduce emissions: carbon pricing and the forthcoming federal Clean Fuel Standard; Phase 2 heavy-duty vehicle efficiency regulations; Continued rollout and adoption of efficiency technologies; Build-out of fuelling infrastructure – biofuels, natural gas, electric and hydrogen; and integration of goods movement into regional and municipal land use planning. Continue reading →

Review of Australia’s Electricity future seeks political compromise; unions see some hints of Just Transition
The Final Report of the Independent Review into the Future Security of the National Electricity Market was submitted to the Australian government by its Chief Scientist, Alan Finkel, on June 9 – the government press release is here. Given that Australia currently obtains approximately two-thirds of its electricity from coal-fired generating units, it is controversial territory. The Finkel Review seeks compromise ground: it doesn’t recommend a return to Australia’s previous emissions trading scheme, nor a carbon tax – instead, it recommends a “clean energy target”, where cleaner power generators would get financial rewards relative to the amount of CO2 emitted per megawatt hour. The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) response to the Finkel report is muted, and focused less on the strength of the emission targets and more on the recommendations for an orderly transition of the sector, and a three year notice period before generator withdrawal. The ACTU has previously recommended the establishment of the Energy Transition Authority to navigate the transition to a clean energy 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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