A January report from the International Energy Agency attempts to evaluate the effectiveness of various economic policies to improve energy efficiency. A large part of the report consists of detailed case studies of incentive programs for the buildings sectors in France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, and Canada. The Canadian case study highlights the ECO-Energy Retrofit Homes program, which ran from 2007 to 2012. The report concludes that it was “relatively effective” in delivering the expected results, but that “changes will be needed to reach a significant reduction in energy consumption from residential buildings of the order of 50% by 2050”. The program reached approximately 5% of low rise housing in Canada, and achieved an average 24% improvement in energy performance of participating homes. The report also estimates that the program supported the direct creation of 2000 energy advisor jobs, as well as construction installation jobs and jobs in insulation, window and door manufacturing (which it does not attempt to quantify).
The January 2013 issue of Monthly Labor Review online is a special issue dedicated to green jobs. Four articles are included, which explain the methodology of the two BLS surveys, the Green Goods and Services survey and the Green Technologies and Practices survey, and summarize previously published data. The final article, “Workplace safety and health profiles of occupations with green technology jobs” uses BLS workplace safety and health data, which shares the same industry and occupation classification systems used in the green jobs studies, to report on the prevalence and details of workplace injuries and accidents. Unfortunately, the data cannot be separated into green and non-green jobs, so that the results are for all jobs in the industries or occupations that contain green jobs. Also included: a book review of Good Green Jobs in a Global Economy: Making and Keeping New Industries in the United States, by David J. Hess, published by MIT Press in 2012.
Scott Vaughan, Canada’s Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, presented his 2012 Fall Report to the Standing Committee on Natural Resources on February 5th. The report is available at: http://www.oag-bvg.gc.ca/internet/English/parl_cesd_201212_e_37708.html as five separate chapters: Atlantic offshore oil and gas activities; Financial Assurances for Environmental Risks; Marine Protected Areas; A Study of Federal Support for the Fossil Fuel Sector; and, Environmental Petitions. The Commissioner’s Perspective document at: http://www.oag-bvg.gc.ca/internet/English/parl_cesd_201212_00_e_37709.html concludes with the following concerns: “…. the current level of inspections of major resource projects in the North is very low relative to the level of activity. The government does not know the actual cost of its support to the fossil fuel sector. Meanwhile, offshore resource development continues to expand even as the government makes slow progress establishing marine protected areas. As well, the petroleum boards on the east coast and their federal partners are not adequately prepared to respond to a major oil spill should they need to step in.” French versions of these documents are available at:http://www.oag-bvg.gc.ca/internet/Francais/parl_cesd_201212_f_37708.html. The Government’s official response to the report is at: http://www.ec.gc.ca/default.asp?lang=En&n=FFE36B6D-1&news=A832AD6F-5CE4-448B-B91D-B5C7E2AB4B2A. See the reaction of the David Suzuki Foundation to the Commissioner’s report at: http://www.davidsuzuki.org/blogs/science-matters/2013/02/government-must-heed-environment-commissioners-warnings/.
Dave Coles, President of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union (CEP) delivered a strong statement against the Keystone XL pipeline at a conference at City University of New York in January 2013. Although the CEP represents 35,000 members employed in oil and gas extraction, transportation, refining, and conversion in the petrochemical and plastics sectors, Coles stated in his speech: “We oppose the proposed Keystone XL pipeline and call on President Obama to reject the project. Climate pollution from the bitumen sands industry is already considerable and will only get worse by approving Keystone XL. The Canadian government’s aggressive lobbying in the U.S. in favor of the pipeline is an embarrassment. I have been arrested in the fight against Keystone XL because our union understands that this pipeline is bad for both the environment and Canadian workers. The pipeline will take potential upgrading and refining jobs away from Canadians and put our country’s energy security at risk.” The Canadian Labour Congress passed the following resolution at its 2011 Conference: “The CLC willpromote the creation of good jobs for Canadians through increased processing of Canadian natural resources, including bitumen, within Canada, stopping the Keystone XL Pipeline from commencing its activities, and actively supporting the Canadian petrochemical industry.”
Keystone XL Pipeline: Bad for the environment and Canadian Workers is at the CEP website at:http://www.cep.ca/en/news/in-the-news/keystone-xl-pipeline-bad-environment-and-canadian-workers, and was reproduced at Rabble.ca on January 17 at:
Canadian Labor Congress resolution at: http://www.canadianlabour.ca/convention/2011-convention/economic-and-social-policy-resolutions
The Canada West Foundation, a Calgary-based think tank, argues for their viewpoint in Pipe or Perish, Saving an Oil Industry at Risk at: http://cwf.ca/pdf-docs/publications/PipeOrPerish_Feb2013-1.pdf. The report, commissioned and financed by the government of Saskatchewan, argues “If pipeline project proposals such as Trans Mountain, Keystone XL and Northern Gateway don’t move forward, Canada will be foregoing $1.3 trillion in economic output, 7.4 million person-years of employment and $281 billion in tax revenue between now and 2035.”
Beneath the Surface: A Review of Key Facts in the Oilsands debate, published by Pembina Institute on January 28th, examines statements made that are not false, but selectively present information to minimize the negative impacts of oilsands production or overstate the positive strides that industry or governments have made toward addressing those impacts. The report focuses on five key areas including: air quality and emissions levels, land reclamation and wildlife, water impacts, volume of oil sands tailings and how reliance on the oil sands puts Canada’s overall economy at risk. See Beneath the Surface: A Review of Key Facts in the Oilsands debate at:http://www.pembina.org/pub/2404.
How Canada Performs is a detailed national “report card” across dimensions: economy, society, innovation, health, education and skills, and the environment. In the release of January 2013, at:http://www.conferenceboard.ca/hcp/details/environment.aspx, Canada receives a “C” grade on environmental performance and a rank of 15th out of 17 peer countries, measuring on 6 dimensions: air quality, waste, water quality and quantity, biodiversity and conservation, natural resource management, and climate change and energy efficiency. Climate change is measured using the proxy of GHG emissions per capita, and on that dimension, our country receives a “D” grade. “The main challenge is to make economic growth less dependent on energy use and related air emissions, by improving energy efficiency and by developing and using cleaner fuels and low-emitting electricity sources.” Citing its previous reports from 2007 – 2011, the Board reiterates its call for a green taxes, green investment tax credits, and a cap and trade system for emissions. Data and analysis of GHG emissions are at:http://www.conferenceboard.ca/hcp/details/environment/greenhouse-gas-emissions.aspx. The main home page for How Canada Performs: a Report Card on Canada is at:http://www.conferenceboard.ca/hcp/default.aspx.
A new report outlines a vision for the transportation sector of the EU which would reduce its reliance on biofuels from food crops while cutting its CO2 emissions by 205 million tones by 2020. The authors claim that the EU Renewable Energy Directive (RED) target and the Fuel Quality Directive (FQD) can be met by improved energy efficiency, combined with a the growth of renewable electricity use, and the use of biofuels and biomethane from waste and residues rather than from food crops. Sustainable Alternatives for Land-based Biofuels in the European Union: Assessment of options and development of a policy strategy was commissioned by Greenpeace, Transport & Environment, the European Environmental Bureau and BirdLife Europe, and written by CE Delft, an independent, non-profit research and consultancy organization in the Netherlands. The report is available at: http://www.cedelft.eu/publicatie/sustainable_alternatives_for_land-based_biofuels_in_the_european_union/1325.
In its annual review of media coverage of climate change, Daily Climate.org website states thatThe New York Times published the most stories on climate change and had the biggest increase in coverage among the five largest U.S. daily papers in 2012. Daily Climate.org also states that climate change reporting declined by 2% worldwide in 2012 from 2011, despite the increased coverage of extreme weather events such as Hurricane Sandy. For a review of climate change reporting in 2012, see: http://wwwp.dailyclimate.org/tdc-newsroom/2013/01/2012-climate-change-reporting. Given its prominence, there is further concern for the diminution of climate change reporting after the New York Times announced in early January that it is reorganizing its coverage of environmental issues – eliminating the positions of environment editor and deputy environment editor and reassigning the seven reporters from a dedicated “desk”. The Timesmaintains that it will continue to cover environmental issues, but in an interdisciplinary way, reflecting that “environmental stories are “partly business, economic, national or local, among other subjects”. The online Green Blog is still publishing and no statement has been made about its future. See “New York Times Dismantles Its Environment Desk”, in Inside Climate News, January 11, 2013, at: http://insideclimatenews.org/news/20130111/new-york-times-dismantles-environmental-desk-journalism-fracking-climate-change-science-global-warming-economy.
Since 2009, the Green Alliance in the U.K. has been working to encourage climate change advocacy and action amongst elected politicians, through a Climate Leadership Programme. Over 50 MP’s from all three political parties have attended workshops and information sessions on the science, policy and politics of climate change, and their links with key constituency issues. As the program enters a new 2-year phase, past achievements and policy documents are summarized in an essay at: http://greenallianceblog.org.uk/2013/02/01/a-new-generation-of-climate-leaders-is-emerging-in-parliament/; for Background on the Climate Leadership Program, see:http://www.green-alliance.org.uk/grea1.aspx?id=4613