CEP & CAW Statements to the House of Commons Committee: Pipelines and Dutch Disease

The federal House of Commons Committee on Natural Resources began hearings on “Market Diversification in the Energy Sector” on April 18th. (Previous hearings were on “Innovation in the Energy Sector”).   On April 23, the Communications Energy and Paperworkers Union submitted its position paper to the Committee, opposing pipeline development such as Northern Gateway and Keystone XL.  However, “CEP endorses that decision (i.e. approval of Enbridge’s Line 9A pipeline) and supports Enbridge’s current application for Line 9A to extend supply to the Montreal Suncor and Quebec City Ultramar refineries. CEP supports Line 9B on the basis that its 300,000 bbl/d capacity will provide just 75% of the capacity of the two Quebec refineries. CEP does not support a further expansion or a revival of the “Trailblazer” project which would have transformed Line 9 into an export line to Portland, Maine.”

In the Canadian Auto Workers submission by Jim Stanford, also submitted on April 23, the focus is on reviewing the economic debate about “Dutch disease”, or what Stanford calls “resource-driven deindustrialization”.  The paper summarizes the arguments and reviews 7 previous studies, concluding that resource-driven deindustrialization does exist. He then raises (but does not answer) the questions: how large has the effect been, have the costs to manufacturing been offset by the benefits of resource expansion, and should the government and the Bank of Canada intervene?

Many others have appeared before the Committee, including representatives from the Fraser Institute, Conference Board of Canada, and Macdonald Laurier Institute. Unions have been represented by:  Christopher Smillie (Building and Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO) on April 25; Gil McGowan (President, Alberta Federation of Labour) on April 30.

LINKS

CEP submission is at http://www.cep.ca/sites/cep.ca/files/docs/en/130424-Fred-NatResCmttee.pdf

CAW submission, Resource-driven Deindustrialization   is at http://www.cep.ca/sites/cep.ca/files/docs/en/130424-Jim-NatResCmttee.pdf

Transcripts are available at the Committee website, by date, (in English)  at http://www.parl.gc.ca/committeebusiness/CommitteeMeetings.aspx?Cmte=RNNR&Language=E&Mode=1&Parl=41&Ses=1  and (in French) at http://www.parl.gc.ca/committeebusiness/CommitteeMeetings.aspx?Cmte=RNNR&Mode=1&Parl=41&Ses=1&Language=F

Case Studies of Emissions Reductions in B.C. Small Businesses

An April White Paper published by the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions in B.C.  presents case studies of 11 British Columbia small businesses which engaged in greenhouse gas emissions reduction projects in any or all of four areas: electricity, heating, transportation, and waste management.  For each case, the report describes the initiatives taken and estimates the environmental benefits, financial costs, rate of return on the investment, and the projected payback time.  The report also provides insights from a broader universe of 700 small businesses, including the observation that employees are more motivated to participate in emissions-reducing activities if they are offered a share in the savings achieved.  Several recommendations are made to encourage small businesses to move to lower emissions practices.

LINKS

Are Small to Mid-sized Businesses the Catalyst to a Low Carbon Economy in B.C.?  at http://pics.uvic.ca/sites/default/files/uploads/publications/Small%20Business%20White%20Paper%20April%202013.pdf

Canada’s Greenest Employers for 2013 Announced

Canada’s Top Employers project publishes an annual report which is often used by employment counselors and job seekers, to identify progressive and socially responsible potential employers. The list was announced in late April and includes winners of the environmental category.  “Each employer was evaluated using the following criteria: 1) the unique environmental initiatives and programs they’ve developed; 2) how successful they’ve been in reducing their own environmental footprint; 3) the degree to which employees are involved and whether they contribute any unique skills; and 4) the extent that their initiatives have become linked to their public identity and whether they attract new people to their organization.”  Profiles of each of the companies, describing their green credentials, are available on the website.

LINKS

Canada’s Greenest Employers 2013 website is at http://www.canadastop100.com/environmental/

Positions of B.C. Political Parties on Climate Change Issues and Green Jobs

British Columbia holds its provincial election on May 14th.  The Pembina Institute has released a comparison of the positions of the political parties on four election issues related to climate change: liquefied natural gas (LNG), oil pipelines, the carbon tax and green jobs. They find that the Green Party is the only one who would take the province forward on all four issues, and goes the furthest in proposals for green job creation – with enhanced venture capital funding programs for the clean tech sector, as well as encouragement of energy efficiency and renewable energy.  Only the Conservatives have no proposals re green job creation.   The Conservatives, Liberals and NDP are all in support of significant LNG expansion, yet the Pembina authors state that “any necessary next steps in lowering emissions will be overwhelmed by the emissions from extracting, processing and liquefying natural gas if LNG development is allowed to significantly expand in B.C.”

LINKS

Climate change and the 2013 British Columbia election by Matt Horne, Josha MacNab & Kevin Sauvé is available at http://www.pembina.org/media-release/2449 .

“B.C.’s political climate is shifting: Why talk of ‘jobs vs. environment’ no longer holds water” by Eric Doherty (May 10) at Rabble.ca at http://rabble.ca/news/2013/05/bcs-political-climate-shifting-why-talk-jobs-vs-environment-no-longer-holds-water

Party Platforms:  Green Party: Jobs in a New Economy is at http://www.greenparty.bc.ca/jobs_in_new_economy ; NDP platform is at http://www.bcndp.ca/plan  ; Liberals’ at http://www.bcliberals.com/news/in-the-news/ourPlan ; Conservatives’ at http://www.bcconservative.ca/ .

The Tyee Election Hook (dedicated to election coverage)  is at http://thetyee.ca/Blogs/TheHook/

For results:  go to CBC B.C. Election 2013 website at http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/bcvotes2013/

Recommendations for “High Road” Jobs in Green Infrastructure

A report by Green For All, in partnership with American Rivers, focuses on occupations in green infrastructure programs across the U.S.  It describes current U.S. green infrastructure activity, examines the occupations involved in operations and maintenance (including wage and unionization rates), and argues that the low entry barriers for these occupations have created “low road” jobs.  The paper then profiles specific projects, particularly water utilities, where workforce development programs are leading to stable jobs with career prospects – “high road” jobs.   The report makes 3 recommendations for green infrastructure projects, including that installation and maintenance contracts for publicly funded infrastructure should include community benefits strategies to generate work for local workers and businesses, and should include workforce development commitments.

LINKS

Staying Green and Growing Jobs: Green Infrastructure Operations and Maintenance as Career Pathway Stepping Stones is at  http://greenforall.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Staying-Green-and-Growing-Jobs-April-2013.pdf.pdf

Related reports, including Staying Green: Strategies to Improve Operations and Maintenance of Green Infrastructure in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, and High Road Agreements: A Best Practice Brief are at the Green For All website at http://greenforall.org/resources/reports-research/  .

How Climate Change is Changing the Job of Professional Engineers

A feature article in the March issue of PE Magazine discusses how professional engineers in the U.S. are coping with the impacts of climate change and extreme weather on public infrastructure.  The article notes several local projects and describes the Climate Change Educational Partnership of the U.S. National Academy of Engineer’s Center for Engineering, Ethics, and Society, founded in 2011.  David Lapp, who serves on Canada’s Public Infrastructure Engineering Vulnerability Committee, is quoted for his thoughts on the potential for liability for those engineers who fail to take climate change adaptation into account.

LINK

“Change in the Weather” by Matthew McLaughlin, in PE Magazine (published by the National Society of Professional Engineers) March 2013 at  http://www.nspe.org/PEmagazine/13/pe_0313_Change.html?utm_source=Newsletter+Distribution+List&utm_campaign=dfdf19f1ac-Newsletter_Apr_25_2013&utm_medium=email

Canada Public Infrastructure Engineering Vulnerability Committee website of Engineers Canada is at http://www.pievc.ca/e/index_.cfm

Future Green Jobs and Workplaces: The Need for Health and Safety Protection

A report released by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work identifies and forecasts the key new technologies that may be introduced in green jobs by 2020, and the possible risks they will bring to the workplace. The report constructs three scenarios (win-win; bonus world; and  deep green), and for each scenario, forecasts the future of jobs in wind energy, green construction, waste management and recycling; green transport; green manufacturing; domestic and small-scale energy; energy storage and transmission.  It concludes with wide-ranging and thoughtful observations about the likely changes to work processes and materials, and argues convincingly that there is “a need for a systematic, prior OSH assessment of any new technology, product and process at a very early development stage that considers the entire life cycle, from ‘cradle to cradle’ (i.e. including design, manufacture, transport, installation, operation and maintenance, decommissioning, treatment of waste and later reuse). Integrating prevention into the design is more efficient, as well as cheaper, than retrofitting OSH; this needs to start now for safe future green jobs.”

LINKS

Green jobs and occupational safety and health: Foresight on new and merging risks associated with new technologies by 2020 is at https://osha.europa.eu/en/publications/reports/green-jobs-foresight-new-emerging-risks-technologies

NRTEE Documents are Accessible to the Public at W3 Website

At the end of March 2013, government-mandated cutbacks ended the life of the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy (NRTEE), which had provided independent research and analysis about climate change and environmental issues in Canada, and which had published reports monitoring Canada’s progress toward GHG reductions under the Kyoto Protocol.  Despite government efforts to curtail access to the research output of the NRTEE, the W3 project has created an archive of all NRTEE documents since 1987. Go to http://www.workinawarmingworld.yorku.ca/library/  for free access.

Ontario Green Energy Act Loses Final Appeal at WTO

The World Trade Organization has upheld its original decision and ruled that the domestic content regulations of Ontario’s Green Energy Act violate international trade law.  Existing contracts signed under the Act will continue, but the WTO decision calls for the Green Energy Act to be amended to remove the requirement for local production in future renewable energy contracts.   “Ontario loses final WTO appeal on Green Energy Act” by Shawn McCarthy, Globe and Mail (May 6) is at http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/industry-news/energy-and-resources/ontario-loses-final-wto-appeal-on-green-energy-act/article11731010/  .

A summary of the WTO proceedings, including a link to the review decision (file #WT/DS412), in English and French is available from the WTO at http://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/dispu_e/cases_e/ds412_e.htm  . The Council of Canadians reaction is at “Ontario urged to defy unreasonable WTO ruling against Green Energy Act” at http://www.canadians.org/media/trade/2013/06-May-13-2.html , and the United Steelworkers union also urges Ontario to continue to fight, stating that “This is just the latest example of trade agreements being used to override our sovereignty and our freedom to implement environmental and economic development initiatives.” (see press release at http://www.newswire.ca/en/story/1159683/wto-ruling-must-not-end-fight-for-green-jobs-steelworkers ).

The Ontario Ministry of Energy has not yet made a formal response to the decision; however, in a related announcement on May 6th, it announced a 6-month review of the regional energy planning process to be more inclusive of municipal and local input.  (See http://news.ontario.ca/mei/en/2013/05/new-ontario-government-strengthens-energy-planning.html ).

Good Jobs, Green Jobs Conference in Washington

Over 1,800 union workers, environmentalists, business and non-profit leaders gathered from April 16 to 18 for the 2013 Good Jobs, Green Jobs National Conference, sponsored by the BlueGreen Alliance Foundation. This year’s official theme was Let’s Get to Work: Climate Change, Infrastructure and Innovation. In the opening panel, the message was the common cause in the fight for workers rights and environmental rights: speakers were CWA President Larry Cohen, Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune, USW President Leo Gerard, and SEIU Property Services Division Deputy Director Jon Barton. Videos, summaries and blogs from the proceedings are available at the conference website at http://www.greenjobsconference.org/.  

Carbon Management in Canada: Can we Revive a Civil Debate?

On April 17th in Ottawa, the think tank Canada 2020 convened a meeting “because of our concern over the disintegration of constructive debate about carbon management at a national level in Canada. The current deadlock is not good for our country, our democracy or for our planet.”  With a goal “to begin to define a constructive and positive course of action”, presentations were made Jean Charest, (former Liberal Premier of Quebec), Elizabeth May (Leader of Canada’s Green Party), Kathryn Harrison (UBC professor), Eric Newell, (former CEO of  Syncrude), and Bob Inglis, (former Republican member of the U.S. Congress).

The background paper on which discussion was based, Why would Canadians Buy Carbon Pricing?  is at http://canada2020.ca/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Canada-2020-Background-Paper-Carbon-Pricing-April-2013.pdf. It provides an overview of the current provincial mechanisms and concludes that the B.C. Carbon tax offers the best model for a national policy. The event website at http://canada2020.ca/event/the-canada-we-want-carbon-pricing/  provides links to all documents and to videos of each presenter.

Should Alberta be the Model?

A Policy Brief released by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) in May summarizes the current proposals under negotiation for national GHG emission regulation in Canada, and then models the economic and emissions impacts of four scenarios for the year 2020.   

The IISD judges that the negotiations are likely to use Alberta’s Specified Gas Emitters Regulation (SGER) as the standard.  The paper concludes that “While all proposals on the table will deliver emission reductions at costs that seem reasonable, a 40 per cent intensity standard with a two-tiered price ceiling could strike a good balance.” 

See Regulating Carbon Emissions in Canada: Oil and Gas Greenhouse Gas Regulations: The Implications of Alternative Proposals is at http://www.iisd.org/pdf/2013/oil_and_gas_ggr.pdf.

European Emissions Trading System

The European Emissions Trading System faces a future of conflict and further negotiation after April 16th, when the European Parliament rejected a Commission proposal to improve the system by removing the current oversupply of emissions permits.  See coverage by Reuters at http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/04/16/eu-ets-vote-idUSL5N0D337720130416  ; The Guardian at http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/apr/17/europe-climate-chief-vow-save-emissions-trading , and the New York Times OpEd  (May 7) , “A Carbon System Worth Saving”, at http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/07/opinion/europes-carbon-trading-system.html  .

Reform Proposals for Global Carbon Markets

An April report from the Centre for American Progress acknowledges and describes the shortcomings of carbon markets, but argues that carbon markets have helped to fight climate change while providing  billions of dollars for investment capital to spur economic growth. With much attention to the Clean Development Mechanism, and after a through description of the Chinese experience with CDM, the report makes several recommendations for reforms so that “With the right political commitment and much-needed reforms, global carbon markets have the potential to deliver outsized environmental and economic benefits in the coming years.”  See Carbon Market Crossroads: New Ideas for Harnessing Global Markets to Confront Climate Change is at http://www.americanprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/CarbonMarketCrossroads-3.pdf .

Global Clean Energy Status Report Includes a Call for Carbon-Pricing and a Phase-Out of Fossil Fuel Subsidies

The International Energy Agency report for 2013 to the Clean Energy Ministerial provides a comprehensive overview of the global state of clean energy: extent of use, what is being done to encourage market penetration, and what technological advances have occurred for each form of clean energy. Canada is one of the 28 countries surveyed. 

The report also introduced the Energy Sector Carbon Intensity Index (ESCII), which shows how much carbon dioxide is emitted, on average, to provide a given unit of energy. The index remains almost unchanged between 1990 and 2010.  

The “positive” news for 2012 include sales of hybrid electric vehicles, which passed the 1 million mark, increased installation rate of solar photovoltaic systems, and falling costs of most clean energy technologies.  The report gives policy recommendations for each technology type, but overall, it concludes: “the true cost of energy must be reflected in consumer prices, through carbon pricing and the phase-out of fossil-fuel subsidies. Technologies like electric vehicles, wind and solar will need support for several years more, but policies should be flexible and transparent. More stringent and broader energy performance standards, building codes and fuel economy standards can drive energy efficiency.” 

The press release from April 17th, with links, is at http://www.iea.org/newsroomandevents/pressreleases/2013/april/name,36789,en.html .   

Fullest coverage is at the Tracking Clean Energy Progress 2013 website at http://www.iea.org/etp/tracking/. The Report document is at http://www.iea.org/publications/TCEP_web.pdf .

U.K. Carbon Footprint

 Reducing the UK’s Carbon Footprint and Managing Competitiveness Risks, was written at the request of the UK government by the independent Committee on Climate Change.  It examines the role of consumption- based emissions, including imported emissions, and also considers lifecycle emissions of low-carbon technologies in order to understand how their deployment would impact the UK’s carbon footprint.

See http://www.theccc.org.uk/publication/carbon-footprint-and-competitiveness/  for links to summaries and the full report. 

Response to the report by the Trades Union Congress is contained in a briefing, Bring Industry Back Home at
http://www.tuc.org.uk/workplace/tuc-22150-f0.cfm.

The Biggest Roadblock to a Post Carbon World is Politics

A new report by John Wiseman, Taegen Edwards and Kate Luckins has been released by the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute in Australia, arguing that the technological and economic knowledge we need to avoid catastrophic global warming is already available. Change is being impeded by many roadblocks, chiefly political but including: climate science denial, the power of the fossil fuel industry and its allies, political paralysis, unsustainable consumption of energy and resources, path dependencies and outdated infrastructure, and financial and governance constraints. The report calls for recognition of the urgency of transition to a low-carbon path, and for moving investment from fossil fuels to energy efficiency. 

Read Post Carbon Pathways: Towards a Just and Resilient Post Carbon Future Learning from leading international post carbon economy researchers and policy makers at  http://www.postcarbonpathways.net.au/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Post-Carbon-Pathways-Report-2013_Final-V.pdf

Naomi Klein Calls on Green Groups to Join the Fossil Fuel Divestment Movement

Citing the growing campaign for divestment from fossil fuel companies, Naomi Klein asks the question:Shouldn’t environmental organizations be more concerned about the human and ecological risks posed by fossil fuel companies than they are by some imagined risks to their stock portfolios?” In an article in The Nation, she names the names of the green organizations which are “part owners of the industry causing the crisis they are purportedly trying to solve”. She also names the organizations which are not, including “Greenpeace, 350.org, Friends of the Earth, Rainforest Action Network, and a host of smaller organizations like Oil Change International and the Climate Reality Project.”  Read http://www.thenation.com/article/174143/time-big-green-go-fossil-free# ,  reprinted as “It’s time for environmental groups to divest from fossil fuels” (May 2) at Rabble.ca at http://rabble.ca/columnists/2013/05/its-time-environmental-groups-to-divest-fossil-fuels

Proposed Terms of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) Could be Used to Challenge Canadian Fracking Bans

A May 6 briefing by Corporate Europe Observatory, the Council of Canadians and the Transnational Institute “highlights the public debate around fracking, the interests of Canadian oil and gas companies in shale gas reserves in Europe, and the impacts an investment protection clause in the proposed CETA could have on governments’ ability to regulate or ban fracking.”   A similar provision investment protection clause in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is the basis for a current challenge by Lone Pine Resources to a fracking moratorium in Quebec. See the briefing, The Right to Say No: EU-Canada Trade Agreement Threatens Fracking Bans (May 6) at  http://corporateeurope.org/publications/right-say-no-eu-canada-trade-agreement-threatens-fracking-bans .

Nova Scotia Municipality Passes Fracking Ban Based on Community Health Grounds

The Municipality of the County of Inverness, Nova Scotia passed an anti- fracking bylaw on May 6th.  The bylaw bypasses provincial jurisdiction over mineral rights and drilling permits and focuses on using the precautionary principle to protect citizens’ health and wellbeing.  The bylaw, while specifically drafted to prevent fracking in Inverness County, establishes a framework for any municipality to protect its citizens from harmful activities that threaten the health of the community.  It empowers such municipal action and advocacy by appealing to legal principles in international law, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, related interpretations and decisions by the Supreme Court of Canada, and provincial legislation. See the Cape Breton Post article at http://www.capebretonpost.com/News/Local/2013-05-06/article-3237799/Inverness-County-passes-anti-fracking-bylaw/1  ;  also see the website of the Nova Scotia Fracking Resource and Action Coalition, (NOFRAC)  at http://nofrac.wordpress.com/ .  Their report, Out of Control, released on April 22, documents the fracking experience in Hants County from 200, relying on documents obtained by Freedom of Information requests. The province of Nova Scotia is currently undergoing a provincial review of fracking before allowing any permits, and the decision on the review is set to be released in 2014.  See the Government Review website at http://www.gov.ns.ca/nse/pollutionprevention/consultation.hydraulic.fracturing.asp  .

Pulitzer Prize for Online Climate News Report

In April, three reporters from the online news service Inside ClimateNews.org   won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting, for their story about the 2010 oil spill in Kalamazoo, Michigan.  This is the 3rd internet news organization to win a Pulitzer Prize (Huffington Post and ProPublica being the previous winners) – it is certainly the smallest.  Internet news has now “arrived” and climate journalism has also now “arrived”.  See the press release at  http://insideclimatenews.org/todaysnews/20130416/ny-based-insideclimate-news-wins-pulitzer.  See their full, free website at http://insideclimatenews.org/