National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy Issues its Final Report

On October 18th, Canada’s National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy published Framing the Future: Embracing a Low-Carbon Economy. The report begins from the position that “Canada is unprepared to compete in a carbon constrained world.” It outlines a low-carbon growth framework and action steps to achieve four main objectives: stimulate innovation, mobilize investment, enhance market access, and foster talent and skills development. The authors identify essential conditions required for future growth in all areas, emphasizing that “of all our key components of a low-carbon strategy, the most important and necessary is the establishment of long-term certainty on climate, energy, and innovation policies.”

 

Throughout the report, definitions are important. This is not a report about the “green economy”, rather, “we are exclusively focusing on the actions needed to bring about the low-carbon aspect of the “green economy”. The discussion is based on data and analysis about “low carbon growth sectors (LCGS)”, which are defined as energy (traditional and alternative), industrial processes, buildings, and efficient vehicles. Referring to our knowledge of the labour market, the authors cite two main problems: an unclear definition of green jobs and a lack of baseline information. In masterful understatement, they conclude that “The fact remains that Canada’s statistical capacity is not attuned to tracking growth in the low-carbon economy”. Despite these problems, the report provides statistical estimates: first, based on commissioned analysis by Analytica, it estimates the 2010 low-carbon economy direct employment at approximately 42,000 FTE (96,000 when indirect and induced employment is added). Second, using the CIMS model and Statistics Canada data to project performance and labour inputs by sector, it projects total labour inputs (direct, indirect and induced jobs) of 224,000 in 2050 under its Reference Case and 402,000 under its carbon-constrained scenario.

LINK:

Framing the Future: Embracing a Low-Carbon Economy is available at: http://nrtee-trnee.ca/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/framing-the-future-report-eng.pdf (English) and Définir notre avenir: Vers une économie faible en carbone est disponible à http://nrtee-trnee.ca/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/framing-the-future-report-fra.pdf

 

This is the last in a six-part “Climate Prosperity” series and the final report of the organization. Note that the NRTEE will officially cease to exist on March 31, 2013.

The Supply Side of Green Jobs in Ontario: An Interview of Training Opportunities

A recent report by some of Ontario’s workforce development agencies summarizes the employment and training opportunities for the green economy in the Greater Toronto area since the enactment of Ontario’s Green Energy Act in 2009. A major focus of the report was to assemble a comprehensive database of skill-building programs in the GTA, reflected in a 20-page list of programs. Ontario community colleges have introduced 35 new diploma courses relating to the greening employment industry, and there are more than 165 organizations (including NGO’s, labour unions and non-profits) which offer some 370 green skill building courses. The report also identifies the grants (at all three levels of government) and organizations which have provided both private and public funding for training initiatives. Tending Green Shoots is a joint publication of the Durham Region Local Training Board, Toronto Workforce Innovation Group, Peel Halton Workforce Development Group, and the Workforce Planning Board of York Region and Bradford West Gwillumbury.


LINKS:

 

Tending Green Shoots: Green Skillbuilding Programs in the GTA is available at:

http://workforceinnovation.ca/sites/default/files/TWIG_GreenReport_WebVersion_V8-1.pdf 

 

The Toronto Workforce Innovation Group has published 5 reports on the green economy in the GTA since April 2012. They are all available at:

http://www.workforceinnovation.ca/workforce-development-trends/green-economy/twig-research-and-actions

WTO Ruling on Ontario’s Green Energy Act Local Content Provisions

Although the official World Trade Organization decision is not scheduled until the end of November, a leaked confidential interim decision indicates that the decision has gone against Ontario. An October 15th report in the Globe and Mail is based on a report by the Geneva-based International Centre on Trade and Sustainable Development, which states that the a three-member WTO panel has sided with the EU and Japan in their claim that Ontario’s local content provisions violate the WTO’s non-discrimination principle enshrined in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Investment Measures (TRIMS). Unions and environmental groups are calling for the federal and Ontario governments to appeal the decision in order to protect the fledgling green manufacturing industry in Ontario and the cause of sustainable development.

LINKS:

 

“Ontario loses WTO ruling on green energy policies: reports”, by Robert Blackwell in the Globe and Mail, October 15

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/ontario-loses-wto-ruling-on-green-energy-policies-reports/article4614805/?cmpid=rss1

 

International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development report is at http://ictsd.org/i/trade-and-sustainable-development-agenda/147275/

 

Unions and environmental groups denounce preliminary WTO ruling against Ontario renewable energy policy by Stewart Trew at the Rabble.ca website at http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/council-canadians/2012/10/unions-and-environmental-groups-denounce-preliminary-wto-ru

Wind Energy in Quebec

At its annual conference in Toronto in October, the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) projected that 60% of Canada’s wind power installations in 2012 will occur in Quebec. In November 2012, the association released several documents produced in 2010, including a comprehensive economic impact study of the wind energy sector in Québec produced by Hatch Consulting and economist Jean-Claude Thibodeau.

 

LINKS:

 

See WindVision 2025: A Strategy for Quebec (in English) at http://www.canwea.ca/windvision_quebec_e.php. Supporting documents are all available in French only, and include the economic impact study, Études retombées économiques de la filière de l’énergie éolienne sur le Québec et en Gaspésie, 2005 – 2025 at: http://www.canwea.ca/pdf/economic_benefits_qc_full_fr.pdf, along with the results of a Leger Marketing survey of Quebeckers about wind energy, done in Jan/February 2012 at http://www.canwea.ca/pdf/Rapport-Omnibus-2012.pdf.

U.S. Case Studies of Energy Efficiency as a Job Creator

An October report by the American Council for an Energy- Efficient Economy (ACEEE) provides six case studies that showcase the direct, indirect and induced jobs resulting from energy efficiency projects at: OPower, New York City Greener Greater Buildings, Nissan North America, Ohio Low-income Weatherization, Johnson Controls (Wisconsin), and General Electric Appliance Park. The case studies describe programs, policies, investments, partnerships, and business models. It also includes “Job Analysis 101”, a useful, non-technical explanation of how the ACEEE arrives at its job creation estimates, with clear definitions of the terms used.   

 

LINKS:

 

Energy Efficiency Job Creation: Real World Experiences by Casey Bell is available at http://aceee.org/files/pdf/white-paper/energy-efficiency-job-creation.pdf What is an energy efficient job? at http://aceee.org/blog/2012/10/what-energy-efficiency-job is a related blog which summarizes this report but also includes discussion of the methodology in the form of questions from readers, with answers by Casey Bell.

Regional Case Studies of Alternative Energy Lead to a Vision

A new report released in October by the Center for American Progress focuses on low carbon economic development strategies to create jobs and increase climate change resiliency in six U.S. regions. Edited by Kate Gordon and Kiley Kroh, the chapters are authored by local contributors, and report on: Offshore wind on the Atlantic Coast; coastal restoration in the Gulf Coast; energy efficiency in the Southeast; advanced vehicle manufacturing in the Midwest; wind power and solar power development and distribution in the Mountain West; and solar power innovation and installation on the Pacific Coast. The report concludes with recommendations for a future national energy policy for the U.S. and for policies for each of the regions discussed.

 

 

LINK:

 

Regional Energy, National Solutions: A Real Energy Vision for America is available at

http://www.americanprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/RER_full.pdf 

Environmental Activists Gather in Ottawa

Ottawa/Gatineau was the scene of speeches, workshops, panels, and demonstrations for environmental justice. PowerShift 2012 was scarcely covered in the mainstream press, but reports of the group activities are at the PowerShift website at  http://www.wearepowershift.ca/about-1, including videos of some of the speeches (Naomi Klein, Bill McKibben). For thoughts on the relationship of the labour movement and environmental activists, read “Pondering Powershift 2012: What’s up with Canada’s Blue-Green Alliance?” by Joel Davison Harden in the latest issue of Our Times at http://ourtimes.ca/Between_Times/article_242.php.

A manual published in Summer 2012 by the Labor Solidarity Network in the U.S. offers specific guidance to reduce such blue-green tensions. Jobs Beyond Coal: A Manual for Communities, Workers, and Environmentalists by Jeremy Brecher is “intended for communities, unions, environmentalists, native tribes, public officials, and anyone involved in or affected by coal retirement campaigns.” It outlines strategies and techniques to help those campaigning for renewable energy to win support and reduce opposition from workers, unions and communities. See http://report.labor4sustainability.org/coal_2012.pdf.

TUC Continues its Focus on the Green Economy

The 2012 annual climate change conference of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) of the U.K. took place on 23 October with over 200 delegates and 30 expert presenters. The conference theme was Green is Good for Growth, and included keynote addresses, expert-led workshops and panel debates between business, trade unions, campaigners and politicians. Topics included the Government’s £250m package of support measures for the energy intensive industries, a description of the work of the Greener Jobs Alliance, skills shortages, and Powerpoint slides summarizing the TUC’s latest research, the Green Economy Study. Downloadable resources are available at  http://www.tuc.org.uk/workplace/tuc-21611-f0.cfm. For more information about the TUC, see the latest Green Workplaces newsletter at:

http://www.tuc.org.uk/workplace/tuc-21567-f0.cfm.

 

Public Approval of Carbon Tax Slipping in B.C.

In an online survey of British Columbians commissioned by the Pembina Institute and the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions at the University of Victoria, 79% of respondents stated that they are concerned about global warming. A majority are willing to pay more carbon tax if the revenue is directed toward social programs such as health care, education, or reduction of greenhouse gas pollution; 70% would oppose carbon tax increases if the revenue were used to reduce taxes on corporations. In general though, support for the B.C. carbon tax has dropped by 12% since 2011, according to this survey. See http://pics.uvic.ca/sites/default/files/uploads/MR_Carbon%20Tax%20Poll_19Oct2012_0.pdf  for more information.

A Defence of Green Stimulus

In the Fall 2012 issue of New Labor Forum, Robert Pollin of PERI defends the results of the green stimulus program of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), arguing that it was envisioned as a 5-year program, but was judged after 2 years in the U.S. election campaign of 2012. See his 4-page article, Getting Real on Jobs and the Environment: Pipelines, Fracking, or Clean Energy? at

http://www.peri.umass.edu/fileadmin/pdf/other_publication_types/magazine___journal_articles/Pollin–Getting_Real_on_Jobs-Environment—NLF_9-12.pdf.