Work and Climate Change Report
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10/10/2018 - Issue #76
 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).  |

Carla Lipsig-Mummé Named 2018 Winner of SSHRC Impact Partnership Award
The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) announced on October 3rd that Professor Carla Lipsig-Mummé is the winner of the 2018 Impact Partnership Award for her pioneering work in the area of labour, workplaces and mitigating the impacts of climate change. Carla Lipsig-Mummé is a Professor of Work and Labour Studies at York University, and the Principal Investigator of the seven-year SSHRC grant titled “Adapting Canadian Work and Workplaces to Respond to Climate Change: Canada in International Perspective.” Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette, Governor General, presented Professor Lipsig-Mummé and recipients of the 2018 SSHRC Impact Awards with their prizes at a ceremony at Rideau Hall. Also on October 3rd, The Hill Times published an op-ed by Prof. Lipsig-Mummé titled "The future of work in a warming world." (subscription required). Continue reading →

Political will and urgent action required to save our planet, IPCC Report warns
It is hard to overstate the importance of the landmark report released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on October 8. Commonly called  Global Warming 1.5, this consensus report by 91 scientists is the first time that the UN body has modeled the difference between the impacts of the Paris agreement goals of 2°C and 1.5 °C, and forms an urgent challenge to the policy makers and politicians of the world to act on the solutions outlined in their models. An IPCC official quoted in a CBC report strikes the hopeful tone the report tries to achieve: “We have a monumental task in front of us, but it is not impossible… This is our chance to decide what the world is going to look like." The official press release states: “The report finds that limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require “rapid and far-reaching” transitions in land, energy, industry, buildings, transport, and cities. Global net human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) would need to fall by about 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching ‘net zero’ around 2050.” In response, Canada’s National Observer posted “We challenge every Federal and provincial leader to read the IPCC report and tell us what you plan to do”, characterizing Canada’s current divisions over a national carbon tax as representative of the world’s dilemma – the failure of political will to act on known scientific facts. Canada also addresses the issue of political will with an online petition calling for an emergency debate in the House of Commons on Canada’s plan to limit climate change, in light of the IPCC report. Continue reading →

Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung releases studies of "radical realism" for climate justice
Radical Realism for Climate Justice is a “a civil society response to the challenge of limiting global warming to 1.5°C while also paving the way for climate justice.” The report consists of eight chapters written by a variety of international organizations and individuals. Of particular interest are the two from Canadian authors: System Change on a Deadline. Organizing Lessons from Canada’s Leap Manifesto and Modelling 1.5°C-Compliant Mitigation Scenarios without Carbon Dioxide Removal, by Christian Holz of Carleton University in  Ottawa. The latter is especially relevant in light of the October 8 report from the IPCC, Global Warming 1.5°C. Holz reviews the recent technical studies about Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) and Bioenergy combined with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) technologies, and in contrast to the IPCC report, he concludes that 1.5°C can be achieved without relying on on these technologies, "if national climate pledges are increased substantially in all countries immediately, international support for climate action in developing countries is scaled up, and mitigation options not commonly included in mainstream climate models are pursued." Amongst the remaining six chapters in Radical Realism for Climate Justice: A Managed Decline of Fossil Fuel Production: The Paris Goals Require No New Expansion and a Managed Decline of Fossil Fuel Production by Oil Change International, and Another Energy is Possible by Sean Sweeney of Trade Unions for Energy Democracy. Continue reading →

Recommendations for Canada's high growth industries, including natural resources and clean technology
On September 25, Canada’s Ministry of Innovation, Science and Economic Development released a report: The Innovation and Competitiveness Imperative: Seizing Opportunities for Growth,  with over-arching “signature” proposals in the consolidated report, and specific proposals in individual reports by six “high-growth potential” sectors: advanced manufacturing, agri-food, clean technology , digital industries, health and biosciences, and resources of the future. In the case of workforce issues in Clean Technology, the report notes a shortage of soft skills required for entrepreneurship, calls for “work-integrated learning programs”, and better labour market data collection and dissemination. Without ever using the term “Just Transition”, it does call for “Opening streams of these programs for workers to re-skill”, and “Adding new eligibility criteria for these programs to promote an inclusive and diverse workforce”. The “Resources of the future” report examines the mining, forestry and energy industries and bemoans the burden of “an inefficient and complex regulatory system that adds cost, delays projects and is not conducive to innovation.” It proposes a “Resources Skills Council” which, notably, would include labour unions, along with all levels of government, industry associations, universities and polytechnics. Continue reading →

Activists force consultation re Ontario's cap and trade policy as Environment Commissioner pans government's actions to date
In the annual Greenhouse Gas Reduction Progress Report for 2018, titled Climate Action in Ontario: what’s next?, the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario has published a blunt critique of the new Conservative government’s actions, notably its repeal of the Cap and Trade program. She states: “Today, cap and trade, the low-carbon programs that it funded, and 752 renewable energy projects have all been swept away, with nothing in their place. The government’s proposed replacement, the Cap and Trade Cancellation Act (Bill 4), currently lacks most of the features of a good climate law.” (The Commissioner's full factual report includes appendices, including Appendix B: Revenue from cap and trade: What was it used for?) In response to a lawsuit and criticism, the government opened a public consultation period, running for exactly one month, from September 11 to October 11. The government might also want to consult the report commissioned by Canadians for Clean Prosperity, and written by Dave Sawyer of EnviroEconomics: Federal Carbon Price Impacts on Households in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario, which models the costs and benefits of the federal carbon price backstop, set to be triggered in 2019 if provinces do not have their own, equivalent program in place. Continue reading →


NAFTA becomes USMCA - what has changed for workers and the environment?
On September 30, the governments of Canada, the United States and Mexico agreed on a replacement of the North American Free Trade Agreement –  the United States Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA). Legislatures in all three countries must now consider and ratify the agreement before it is final. What has changed? The new agreement runs to over 1800 pages, including annexes and side letters. For WCR readers, the major changes of interest relate to the elimination of Chapter 11, (Investor-State Dispute Resolution) for Canada, and a change to auto tariffs, so that, as of 2020, a car will qualify for tariff-free treatment if 75 per cent of its contents are made in North America (an increase from the current NAFTA threshold of 62.5 per cent). Regarding environmental provisions, the Sierra Club (U.S.) has published an “Environmental Audit of the new NAFTA deal”, but calls much of the language “greenwash”. The Canadian government Technical Summary of the Negotiated Outcomes:  Environment Chapter states “Climate change remains a priority for Canada, and we remain committed to addressing this issue through ongoing negotiations of a parallel environmental cooperation agreement (ECA)." Canada’s Office of International Trade has compiled Technical summaries of the Chapters and backgrounders in English  and in French. The full text of USMCA is (so far) available only at the  Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. Continue reading →

B.C. LNG project approved despite emissions, fracking
Described as one of the largest infrastructure projects ever in Canada, a $40-billion liquefied natural gas project in northern British Columbia was approved on October 1, and the five investors - Royal Dutch Shell, Mitsubishi Corp., Malaysian-owned Petronas, PetroChina Co. and Korean Gas Corp. -  have stated that construction on the pipeline and a processing plant will begin immediately. According to the CBC report, the project is expected to employ as many as 10,000 people in its construction and up to 950 in full-time jobs. The B.C. Federation of Labour is in favour; environmentalists warn of the dangers of fracking and of methane emissions, are opposed to the substantial financial incentives given, and point out that the project will emit one-quarter of B.C.’s legislated targets for carbon pollution in 2050, making it impossible for B.C. to meet its GHG emissions reduction targets. Continue reading →

Oil Sands update: Trans Mountain will undergo new NEB Review - but watch out for the new Frontier mine
Following the August federal Court of Appeal decision which stopped construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline in British Columbia, on September 21, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources announced that the National Energy Board will begin a new review, “taking into account the effects of project-related marine shipping” – and lasting only 22 weeks. And as all eyes were on the Trans Mountain process, “One of the largest oilsands mines ever proposed advances to public hearings” according to The Narwhal, which examines the background and potential impact, including the economic arguments, of the proposed Frontier Mine, a $20 billion oil sands mine in Alberta. Continue reading →

Some workers risk their jobs if they flee disasters. Can unions help? 
A recent AFL-CIO blog summarizes the problem of extreme weather disasters: “You can be fired for not showing up for work during a hurricane” (Sept. 13). The blog reports on the results of a survey conducted by Central Florida Jobs With Justice following Hurricane Irma in 2017, which found that more than half of survey respondents said they faced disciplinary action or termination if they failed to show up to work during the storm. A similar situation was reported in the latest newsletter from Labor Network for Sustainability. The Central Labor Council in Miami conducted a survey and interviews, canvassing labor leaders and coalition partners to find out their concerns about climate change and health. Responses included concerns about being required to work during a hurricane or bad weather, and concerns for job security and losing wages because of a workplace being closed, as well as unsafe workplaces, being required to work excess hours without allowance for caring for one’s own home, and not having access to clean, safe drinking water. The 2014-2019 Collective Agreement between Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 3886 and Royal Roads University in Victoria B.C begins to address some of these concerns with guarantees of regular pay, (and even overtime pay) in the event of work closures caused by “environmental conditions, utility disruptions, road conditions or other reasons beyond the control of the University.” Continue reading →

Controversial motion on Just Transition passed at 2018 TUC
The 2018 Congress of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), Britain’s central labour body, convened in early September. Six motions which relate to climate change, energy, and Just Transition were discussed. Motion 07, Just transition and energy workers’ voice was passed, and reappears in the Labour Party’s Environmental Policy statement, Green Transformation, which states that the Labour Party will “work closely with energy unions to support energy workers and communities” through the transition to a low-carbon economy.   Yet Motion 07 has proven controversial and divisive amongst other unions, as expressed in the Greener Jobs Alliance Congress Briefing: “we have a duty to express our concern that this motion limits input on TUC policy from other unions, making ‘energy unions’ views ‘paramount’. Although the proposed conference on Just Transition is long overdue, when it comes to fighting climate change, every union should have a voice: in the fire and rescue services, food manufacturer, rail transport, public services, the NHS.” Continue reading →

Fossil fuel subsidies, plastics pollution, circular economy are key topics at the G7 Energy and Environment ministers meetings
Following the G7 meetings at Charlevoix Quebec in June 2018, Canada hosted further meetings which brought together the G7 ministers with responsibilities for Environment, Oceans and Energy in Halifax from September 19 to 21. Canada’s National Observer was one of only a handful of media outlets which reported on these meetings - their report of September 25, “Unscrambling the language of Canada’s G7 Climate Diplomacy”  is a plain language overview of what happened. Briefly, Environment ministers discussed the implementation guidelines for the Paris Agreement on climate change – the Paris Rulebook; pledges were made to address plastic waste and single-use plastics; the  Circular Economy Leadership Council (CELC) of Canada was launched as a non-profit think tank; and  Canadian Energy ministers reaffirmed the 2016 G7 commitment to phase out fossil fuel subsidies by 2025. The latter commitment seems unlikely to be honoured by Canada, in light of our current performance, documented in Fossil Fuel Subsidies in Canada: ‘Public Cash for Oil and Gas: Mapping federal fiscal support for fossil fuels, a September 2018 report published by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), in collaboration with Oil Change International, Equiterre, Environmental Defence, and the Climate Action Network. Continue reading →

Canadian Circular Economy coalition launched at G7 meetings
The Circular Economy Leadership Council (CELC) of Canada was launched at the Halifax meetings of G7 Environment, Energy and Ocean ministers on September 20. CELC is a Canada-wide, non- profit coalition which includes corporate and NGO leaders, think tanks, and academics, with a dual goal “to eliminate waste and accelerate the reduction of carbon emissions from the Canadian economy.” Their immediate objective is to develop and publish a Circular Economy Roadmap which will serve as a national strategy document. Continue reading →
Labour union voices at the Climate Action Summit
The Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS), which brought together the world’s politicians, business leaders, and civil society organizations in San Francisco, concluded on September 14 with a final Call to Global Climate Action, calling on national governments to step up climate action, including by enhancing their UNFCCC Nationally Determined Contributions by 2020. Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO, delivered a speech to the Summit on September 13, “Fight Climate Change the Right way, in which he highlighted the passage of Resolution 55 at the AFL-CIO Convention in October 2017.  Trumka, as well as other labour leaders, spoke at Labor in the Climate Transition: Charting the Roadmap for 2019 and Beyond, an affiliate event sponsored by the University of California Berkeley Labor Center, along with the California Labor Federation, California Building and Construction Trades Council, Service Employees International Union, IBEW 1245, the International Trades Union Confederation, and BlueGreen Alliance. And the International Transport Federation (ITF) released Green & Healthy Streets:Transitioning to zero emission transport, in support of the Green and Healthy Streets Declaration by the C40 Cities. The ITF statement is motivated by the benefits of lowering air pollution and occupational health and safety for transport workers, as well as the economic justice of providing transit opportunities for workers to commute to work. Other civil society actions: a Pledge for a Just Transition to Decent Jobs, which commits renewable energy companies to ILO core labor standards and ILO occupational health and safety standards for themselves and their suppliers, as well as social dialogue with workers and unions, wage guarantees, and social protections such as pension and health benefits. Continue reading →

Manitoba cancels its carbon tax, joining Ontario and Saskatchewan in opposition 
On October 3, Manitoba’s Premier joined the Premiers of Ontario and Saskatchewan in opposing carbon taxes, despite the fact that the province had previously supported the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change agreement.
In 'We say no': Manitoba defies Ottawa by killing its carbon tax plan”, the CBC reports that the government will introduce legislation in the week of October 8. Its previous legislation, The Climate and Green Plan Implementation Act (March 2018) had set a carbon price of $25 per ton, and followed the Made-in-Manitoba Green Plan. Continue reading →

Urgenda decision upheld: victory for citizens’ climate rights comes just ahead of Juliana v. United States
On October 9, the Hague Court of Appeal upheld the lower court ruling in the landmark Urgenda Foundation v. The State of Netherlands, which in 2015 was the first case in the world in which citizens held their government accountable for contributing to dangerous climate change. The court had ruled that the government must cut its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 25% by the end of 2020 (compared to 1990 levels). An article in Climate Liability News expands on the global importance of this decision, which has inspired other court challenges in U.S., NorwayPakistanIreland,  Belgium, Colombia, Switzerland and New Zealand. The Urgenda decision comes just as the highly- publicized Juliana v. United States case proceeds to its next court appearance on October 29, led by Our Children’s Trust. Juliana has been called “the trial of the century” in its frequent media coverage. 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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