Work and Climate Change Report
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09/13/2017 - Issue #69
 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 back! Keep an eye out for our monthly newsletters!

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).  |

Decarbonizing Canada’s economy offers huge construction job opportunities
The July report, Jobs for Tomorrow: Canada’s Building Trades and Net Zero Emissions, asserts that Canada’s ability to meet our climate goals will be based on multiple paths to decarbonization, including construction of new electricity-generation facilities using renewable sources, construction and maintenance of more efficient buildings, and transportation infrastructure. Overall, the report concludes that the Net-zero emissions reduction target could generate nearly 4 million direct building trades jobs, and 20 million indirect, induced and supply chain jobs by 2050. The report was commissioned by Canada’s Building Trades Unions (CBTU), an umbrella organization affiliated with 15 international construction unions, and released by the Columbia Institute, Vancouver. Continue reading →

A map of green building jobs in B.C.; Edmonton benchmarks its energy efficiency
On August 23, the Pembina Institute released an update to the British Columbia Green Buildings Map, first launched in 2015. The updated interactive map of 2017 shows where approximately 20,000 energy-efficient homes and buildings are located throughout B.C.. Pembina’s research also states that there are 31,700 people employed in the green building sector – an impressive increase from the 23,200 in 2015. And on the ground, the City of Edmonton, Alberta launched a three-year Large Building Energy Reporting & Disclosure pilot program in June. Participants will benchmark the energy performance of the city’s largest buildings, using Natural Resources Canada’s Energy STAR Portfolio Management tool. The full Program details are here; a summary is here. Continue reading →

Business think tank calls for Low-carbon policies for Canada
The Conference Board of Canada acknowledged that Canada must institute a carbon tax and decarbonize its electricity system in its September report, The Cost of a Cleaner Future: Examining the Economic Impacts of Reducing GHG Emissions (free, registration required). The report presents a range of economic scenarios, relying on modelling from the Trottier Energy Futures project, and focusing on three issues: carbon pricing; eliminating oil and natural gas from electricity generation; and the investment of trillions of dollars in green technology. On the impact of carbon pricing, one scenario assumes a carbon tax of $80 per tonne in 2025, shrinking the economy by only 1.8%, and cutting employment by 0.1%. The total economic impact is forecast to be small, assuming that carbon tax revenues are reinvested in the economy in the form of corporate and personal income tax cuts and additional public spending on infrastructure. Continue reading →

Methane regulations: a path to lower emissions and more jobs for Alberta
A July 2017 report by Blue Green Canada argues that the Alberta government should implement methane regulations immediately, rather than wait for the proposed federal regulations to take effect in 2023. Speeding up regulations “could reduce air pollution, achieve our climate targets more cost-effectively, and create thousands of high-paying jobs in a single step”, according to Don’t Delay: Methane Emission Restrictions mean Immediate jobs in Alberta. Blue Green estimates that Alberta’s oil and gas operations release $67.6 million worth of methane annually, and recovering it for energy use could create more than 1,500 new jobs in the province – well paid jobs, including work in engineering, manufacturing, surveying, and administration. Continue reading →

Climate bargaining: a proposed model and a hint of urgency for progress
Climate change and employment relations ” by Caleb Goods, a Co-Investigator in the Adapting Canadian Work & Workplaces to Climate Change (ACW) project, states that “The link between climate change and ER is not simply a matter of industrial change, job loss and green jobs’ inferior wages and conditions.” The article provides a brief review of academic studies on the issue, which notes how much it is on the margin. The main purpose of the article is to describe the real world responses of the primary actors– unions and employer associations: unions, with policy responses focused on Just Transition, and employers, with their own corporate social responsibility response. Most importantly, the article then provides examples of “climate bargaining”, based on bargaining agreements, union policy documents and union reports from the U.K., Canada and Australia, from 2006 to 2014. The Research Note was published in the Journal of Industrial Relations in July 2017.  Continue reading →

Clean Energy Jobs a pathway to decent work for California’s disadvantaged workers; plus economic benefits of California’s climate policies
Three recent studies from University of California at Berkeley provide evidence of the job benefits of clean energy industries. The first,“Diversity in California’s Clean Energy Workforce”, from Berkeley’s Center for Labor Research and Education Green Economy Program, states that “Joint union-employer apprenticeship programs have helped people of color get training and career-track jobs building California’s clean energy infrastructure”. Two other reports were released by the Center for Labor Research and Education, the Center for Law, Energy and the Environment (CLEE) at UC Berkeley Law, and advocacy group Next 10. The Economic Impacts of California’s Major Climate Programs on the San Joaquin Valley: Analysis through 2015 and Projections to 2030 (January) and The Net Economic Impacts of California’s Major Climate Programs in the Inland Empire: Analysis of 2010-2016 and Beyond (August) examine the impact of climate programs on California’s most environmentally vulnerable regionsContinue reading →

Just Transition for the coal industry is expensive – but cheaper than failure to address the needs
July 2017 saw the release of Lessons from Previous Coal Transitions: High-level Summary for Decision-makers, a synthesis report of case studies of past coal mining transitions in Spain, U.K., the Netherlands, Poland, U.S., and the Czech Republic – some as far back as the 1970’s. Some key take-aways from the report: “Because of the large scale and complexity of the challenges to be addressed, the earlier that actors (i.e. workers, companies and regions) anticipated, accepted and began to implement steps to prepare and cushion the shock of the transition, the better the results”; “the aggregate social costs to the state of a failure to invest in the transition of workers and regions are often much higher that the costs of not investing from an overall societal perspective.” The Synthesis report and individual case study reports of the six countries are available here. These are the work of the Research and Dialogue on Coal Transitions project, a large-scale research project led by Climate Strategies and the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI), which also sponsors the Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project. Continue reading →

Responses to Climate change-related weather disasters in 2017
The summer of 2017 has seen unprecedented forest fires, heat waves, floods and hurricanes around the world, with flooding and forest fires in Canada. In response, Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change announced the launch of an advisory Expert Panel on Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience on August 29, to be chaired by Dr. Blair Feltmate, Head of the Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation at the University of Waterloo. The Expert Panel will be composed of academic, private sector, government, non-government, and Indigenous representatives. CBC provides a summary on the initiative. Recent reports which estimate the costs of climate-related disasters include: an Internal Review of the federal Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements; and an Ontario Chamber of Commerce reportBuilding Better: Setting the 2017 Ontario Infrastructure Plan up for success, which estimates damages and states that “for every $1 billion in infrastructure spending, 16,700 jobs are supported for one year and the GDP sees a $1.14 billion increase.” And for the last word on this catastrophic summer, read Bill McKibben's opinion in The Guardian, "Stop Talking Right Now about the threat of Climate Change. It's Here; It's Happening". 
 Continue reading →

Pollution cost Canada $2 billion in Lost Labour Output alone
The June 2017 report, Cost of Pollution in Canada: Measuring the impacts on families, businesses and governments reviews and synthesizes existing studies to produce the most comprehensive assessment of pollution and its costs in Canada to date. Some quick facts: the cost of climate change-related heat waves in Canada is estimated to have been $1.6 billion in 2015; Smog alone cost Canadians $36 billion in 2015. The report also provides detailed estimates, organized in three categories: 1. Direct Welfare Costs: (Harm to health and well-being such as lower enjoyment of life, sickness and premature death); 2. Direct Income Costs: which include Lost Labour Outputs, estimated at 0.1% of national GDP, or about $2 billion; and 3. Wealth impacts. Continue reading →

A closer look at electric vehicle growth: impact on pollution, and labour conditions in the mines supplying raw materials
The summer started with several “good news” stories about the surge of electric vehicles, Including a forecast from Bloomberg Business Week that “in just eight years, electric cars will be as cheap as gasoline vehicles, pushing the global fleet to 530 million vehicles by 2040″. On July 6, France announced it would end the sale of gas and diesel cars by 2040, and on July 26 the U.K. released its Clean Air Plan, which included a ban on the sale of new diesel and gas cars after 2040, with only electric vehicles available after that. However, despite the "good news", there are still concerns regarding public healthbattery pollution and poor labour conditions as a result of this growing demand. 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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