Mapping the power of the Oil and Gas Industry in Canada

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (B.C.) announced a new initiative, funded by a $2.5 million partnership grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada on November 12, 2015.  Mapping the Power of the Carbon-Extractive Corporate Resource Sector will bring together “researchers, civil society organizations, and Indigenous participants to study the oil, gas and coal industries in British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan.” The goal of the 6-year project is to identify the major corporate interests in the fossil fuel sector, and uncover their influence in policy decisions.

 

7.7 Million Jobs in Renewable Energy Employment Worldwide

Fact Sheet: Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Jobs  , released in November  2015 by the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI),   is described as “a best effort to survey the status of renewable energy and energy efficiency jobs from the data that is publicly available.” The employment statistics are sourced from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), as well as international organizations, national non-profits, think tanks and national trade associations . Most of the international statistics are taken from the IRENA Renewable Energy and Jobs Annual Review 2015 , which estimates that there are 7.7 million jobs worldwide in renewable energy employment. The EESI acknowledges that the statistics are not directly comparable because of the different definitions and methodologies of the sources, and further acknowledges that some statistics are dated because of a lack of more current information.

Life Cycle Analysis of Battery Electric Vehicles

electric carThe Union of Concerned Scientists has released Cleaner Cars from Cradle to Grave  , a comprehensive, two-year review of the climate emissions from vehicle production, operation, and disposal. It concludes that battery electric cars generate half the emissions of the average comparable gasoline car, even when pollution from battery manufacturing is accounted for. One chapter discusses the emissions of the manufacturing process, with estimates based on the Nissan LEAF and Tesla Model S. The study concludes that emissions from manufacturing a full-size BEV are about 33 percent of its lifetime global warming emissions; the remaining 67 percent come from driving it. 

Carbon Capture and Storage – Canadian case studies, and a Labour view

The recent report Global Status of CCS 2015  by the Global CCS Institute provides a glowing overview of the technology, and profiles the Quest project near Edmonton  , as well as a link to an August 2015 report about the Boundary Dam in Saskatchewan . In October, the B.C. government introduced Bill 40, the Natural Gas Development Statutes Amendment Act, 2015, amending legislation which allows carbon capture and storage “as a permanent solution for disposing of carbon dioxide (CO2) in British Columbia”. Reference materials from the 2014 public consultations on CCS in B.C. are here  .

In a working paper published by Trade Unions for Energy Democracy, author Sean Sweeney writes that “CCS may have a place in the transition to a post-carbon world, but this place must be determined democratically, and by public need.”   Hard Facts about Coal: Why Why Trade Unions Should Re-evaluate their support for Carbon Capture and Storage states that, whether intended or not, CCS can provide political cover for the ongoing and increasing use for coal.

Carbon Pricing: Provincial differences and the risk of Carbon Leakage

In the second of two reports it has published on carbon pricing, the EcoFiscal Commission concludes that “In the context of a $30 per tonne carbon price, only a small number of sectors, representing less than 5 per cent of Canada’s economy, are likely to experience significant competitive pressures. Even with a $120 per tonne carbon price … 90 per cent of Canada’s economy would still be virtually unaffected by competitiveness challenges. ”   Provincial Carbon Pricing & Competitiveness Pressures: Guidelines for Business and Policy Makers  examines the economies of British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, and Nova Scotia, and states that impacts will differ across sectors and provinces. In Alberta, 18 % of the economy is potentially exposed, compared to 2% in B.C., Ontario, and Nova Scotia.   The report recommends targeted, transparent, and temporary support measures for genuinely vulnerable industries, in the form of free permits (under a cap and trade system) or carbon tax rebates. Other recent reports related to carbon pricing: Implementing Effective Carbon Pricing  from the New Climate Economy; “The Path to Carbon Pricing” by Christine Lagarde (IMF) and Jim Yong Kim (World Bank) in Project Syndicate; and Uses of Revenue from Carbon Pricing in which the Climate Markets and Investment Association forecasts that globally, governments will raise $22 billion in climate revenue in 2015. From Resources for the Future, Lessons Learned from Three Decades of Experience with Cap-and-Trade examines U.S. programs and the European ETS.

CUPE’S STRATEGIC PLAN INCLUDES NEW INITIATIVES TO “PROTECT THE PLANET”

CUPE LOGOThe Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) held their national convention in Vancouver from November 2 – 6, 2015 . Delegates heard Naomi Klein, attended a rally in support of the LEAP Manifesto , and supported a Strategic Planning Document  which includes new initiatives under the heading “Protect the Planet”.   Previous resolutions had included commitments to lobby the government, collaborate with environmental and civil society allies, and develop policies, action plans, and tools for member education. Amongst the new commitments in the 2015 document: “We will offer concrete support to First Nations and others taking action on the front lines to prevent further environmental degradation resulting from oil and gas extraction….Attend COP21 as part of the union delegation…. Educate CUPE pension trustees about the risks of climate change to pension investments… Help locals undertake workplace initiatives that reduce pollution and the use of toxins, and that tackle global warming.”

On November 17, CUPE issued a press release concerning their participation and goals for COP21 in Paris.

Quebec releases Sustainable Development Strategy to 2020

On October 28, 2015, the Quebec government’s Sustainable Development Strategy 2015-2020 was released .    Full documentation is available only in French, here  . The 3-page English summary, Appendix 4   states that the province will support the development of green business practices and models; support green industries; foster investment and funding to support the transition to a green and responsible economy; develop and showcase skills that support the transition to a green and responsible economy; support the electrification of transportation and improve the sector’s energy efficiency; and foster the production and use of renewable energy and energy efficiency. Further, in Initiatives to Enable the Necessary Shift   the government undertakes to update its practices in order to increase the size of ecoresponsible procurement within the public service and foster the use of clean technology; and foster the improved use of green taxation to achieve sustainable development and climate change objectives.

Ontario releases Climate Change Strategy and Cap and Trade Discussion Paper

On November 24, 2015 the government of Ontario released its Climate Change Strategy , a broad document that sets out Ontario’s vision for achieving the GHG reduction target of 80 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050. A separate five-year action plan is promised for 2016, which will include specific commitments for meeting the 2020 emissions reduction target, as well as establish the necessary framework for the  2030 and 2050 targets.   The government has also released a discussion paper: Cap and Trade Program Design Options , (summarized in the Globe and Mail  ). Comments about the cap and trade design can be submitted until December 15.  A draft regulatory proposal will be tabled early in 2016, triggering another public comment period. The Clean Economy Alliance released Getting it Right: Design Recommendations for Ontario’s Cap and Trade System , which recommends policies to make polluters pay for the pollution they generate, while being “ fair to workers, families and industries that are disproportionately affected”. The Climate Action Network Canada surveyed 857 Ontarians in September 2015 regarding carbon pricing and cap and trade systems. Results are here .

Nova Scotia Moving away from Coal-fired Electricity

In Our Electricity Future: Nova Scotia’s Electricity Plan , released on November 9, 2015 the government pledges to be a “green powerhouse” by 2040. Coal will be phased out in favour of renewable electricity so that “By 2050 or before, Nova Scotia’s electricity utilities may be nearly carbon free”. According to the press release,  the plan also commits $1.5 million over the next three years to support pilot projects to research technologies related to electricity use, management, and storage, as well as solar and tidal energy. Amendments to the Public Utilities Act and Electricity Act are promised “this fall” to support the electricity plan. Commentary  appears in Rabble.ca, and a summary  appears in CleanTech Letter (Nov. 10).

Manitoba commits to Environmental Bill of Rights in Throne Speech

Manitoba’s Throne Speech, delivered on November 16 , has committed the government to a new law which will enshrine “the right of every Manitoban to a healthy environment”. An Ecojustice blog provides context . The Premier had also announced in October that the province will invest $400,000 over the next two years in a new research centre, the Prairie Climate Centre, at the University of Winnipeg .

Trudeau’s “Sunny Ways” on the Climate file

trudeau at CLCSince taking office as Canada’s Prime Minister on November 4, Justin Trudeau has taken steps towards what Elizabeth May of the Green Party called “fixing what Harper broke” . An interview with Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion  in the Globe and Mail (Nov. 12) makes clear that climate change issues are to be woven into decision-making in all ministries, and Dion also states that the government is committed to slashing fossil fuel subsidies, building green infrastructure and mass transit, and providing green investment funding. On November 13, the Ministerial Mandate Letters  were made publicly available, outlining the cross-Ministry priorities of climate change: for example, the Letter to the Minister of Finance includes “Work with the Minister of Environment and Climate Change in creating a new Low Carbon Economy Trust to help fund projects that materially reduce carbon emissions under the new pan-Canadian framework”.   Also on November 13th, Trudeau  called for a moratorium on crude oil tanker traffic for B.C.’s North Coast . This is generally seen as the end of the Northern Gateway pipeline, as explained in The Tyee  . And for the first time since 1958, the Prime Minister of Canada addressed labour leaders at a meeting at the Canadian Labour Congress  on November 10 ; climate change was one of the topics discussed.

Just Transition in the U.S.

Labor Network for Sustainability  addresses the jobs vs. the environment debate by considering the role of Just Transition policies. In How to Promote a Just Transition and Break Out of the Jobs vs. Environment Trap  , author Jeremy Brecher asks, “what might a Superfund for workers legislation look like?”. He states that, surprisingly, “some of the best ideas for protecting workers and communities hit by the side effects of public policy decisions were embodied in legislation championed in 1988 by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) to protect tobacco working people and farmers from tobacco control policy.”

U.S. Job creation benefits of Clean Energy Policies

On November 9, 2015,  NextGen Climate America released Economic Analysis of U.S. Decarbonization Pathways. Written by ICF International and using data from Pathways to Deep Decarbonization in the United States (2014)  , the report concludes that by investing in clean energy and reducing GHG emissions, the United States could add more than 1 million jobs by 2030 and nearly 2 million by 2050. Nationally, employment gains in manufacturing, construction and other sectors outweigh losses in the fossil fuel sector. Modelling is provided for a Reference case, High renewables, and Mixed case scenarios; results are provided by sector and by region, as well as nationally.

The Clean Energy Future: Protecting the Climate, Creating Jobs and Saving Money  by Synapse Energy Economics, Labor Network for Sustainability, and 350.org, aims to refute the jobs vs. environment argument. It recommends policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 85 percent below 1990 levels by 2050, including transforming the electric system by cutting coal-fired power in half by 2030 and eliminating it by 2050; building no new nuclear plants; and reducing the use of natural gas far below business-as-usual levels. Under these policies, the cost of electricity, heating, and transportation would be $78 billion less than current projections to 2050, and new job creation would be 500,000 more per year over business as usual projections through 2050. The report is based on a Technical Appendix by Synapse Energy Economics  explains and documents the calculations; it models employment impacts for direct, indirect and induced jobs, and finds the greatest job activity in energy efficiency (over 500,000 average jobs per year), followed by automobile production, wind and solar.

Banking Executive Compensation should measure Performance in GHG reduction

 A new report from Vancouver-based SHARE (Shareholder Association for Research and Education) examines the impacts that climate change-related risks could have for the banking sector, including their exposure to carbon-intensive assets, but also considering their own administration and operation as corporations. Banking on 2°: The Hidden Risks of Climate Change for Canadian Banks focused on Canada’s five largest banks: Bank of Montreal, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, Royal Bank, Scotiabank and Toronto-Dominion Bank. Amongst the recommendations: banks should have a climate change statement which delineates the steps being taken to reduce the climate impacts of its operations and its financing activities; performance targets to reduce operational and financed GHG emissions should be established and aligned with IPCC models to limit warming to 2°Celsius; and executive compensation and incentive packages should include performance in reducing GHG emissions from operational and financed sources.

Pension funds and Divestment: What Canadian Trustees and Workers should know

Pension Funds and Fossil Fuels: The Economic Case for Divestment , released by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives in November, examines the top 20 public pension funds in Canada and estimates that their fossil fuel holdings put them at risk of losses of approximately $5.8 billion, because of the potential for new regulations, carbon pricing, emission caps, and stranded assets. The report, aimed at   pension fund trustees and concerned workers , argues for divestment of fossil fuel holdings and briefly reviews some of the alternative financial instruments and clean energy projects that could benefit from the divested capital. The analysis is supported by an October report by the Carbon Tracker Initiative, Lost in Transition , which warns that “ Coal, oil and gas companies are misleading shareholders with overly optimistic future demand projections” and “these scenarios are potentially underestimating the pace and scale of the transformation of the energy sector”. And Unhedgeable Risk: How Climate Change Sentiment Impacts Investment  concludes that that investors should concern themselves not only with the long-term fundamentals of climate change, but also with the immediate risks of “ sentiment shifts” (such as oil price panic and sell-off).

A Clean Energy and Jobs Plan for B.C., based on more stringent Regulations

The government of British Columbia is scheduled to release its updated Climate Leadership Plan in December 2015. In November, Clean Energy Canada released  A Clean Economy and Jobs Plan for British Columbia   to contribute to those discussions. It characterizes the future as “not a revolution, but an evolution”, and summarizes its policy recommendations as having two core fundamentals: “Introduce and expand clean standards for vehicles, buildings and industry, and “Create a clean economy investment and tax rebate program.” The Jobs Plan document is based on commissioned research by Navius Research, A Plan for Climate Leadership in British Columbia: Forecasting the Benefits and Costs of Strengthening British Columbia’s Greenhouse Gas Policies . The Navius report provides the details of both the economic modelling, and the policy prescriptions. Those deep decarbonization policies include a carbon tax of at least $80 per tonne and stronger sector-specific regulations on buildings, transportation, energy supply, and industry – especially LNG production. Under such policies, Navius forecasts that BC will miss its 2020 emission target, (33% reduction in GHG emissions relative to 2007 levels), but can achieve its 2050 target ( 80% reduction in emissions relative to 2007).   The resource sectors are forecast to grow at 2% annually and remain important to BC’s economy, but more than 70% of future growth will occur in the service sector, (including healthcare, education, and technical and professional services). Because of the diversity of the economy, approximately 250,000 new jobs are predicted in the next ten years, with total jobs growing by 900,000 between 2015 and 2050.

Alberta’s NDP Government includes Just Transition in its Climate Leadership Plan

The policies released by the Alberta government  on November 22 2015  are being hailed as a turning point in Alberta, including a plan to replace two-thirds of coal-generated electricity with renewables by 2030  , and to phase in carbon pricing, starting at $20 a tonne in January 2017 and reaching $30 a tonne by January 2018 . Emissions from the be oil sands will be capped at 100-megatons – representing a drastic reduction from the 267 megatons produced in 2013, although no date is attached to the proposal. Reaction is generally positive, even from business, according to the Calgary Herald  and the Toronto Globe and Mail . Rabble.ca sums it up in “Rachel Notley builds a coalition of big business, environmentalists and civil society”  The proposals are based upon the recommendations of the provincial Climate Change Advisory Panel Report  , chaired by Andrew Leach, and made public on November 20. In the “Labour Context” section (page 26) , the report states that revenue from carbon pricing must be reinvested in Alberta, including “To support transition needs of workers and communities and to enable full inclusion of Aboriginal communities in climate change mitigation and adaptation … Just transition programs need to be tailored to the circumstances of workers and their communities, and their selection, design and implementation will require participation of all those involved. Workers, unions, communities and firms will need to be engaged by government to develop specific programs that can include skills development and training, income support and relocation assistance, as well as working with the federal government on pension bridging and benefits programs for displaced workers.”

CANADA AT COP21: POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS FROM THE CANADIAN LABOUR CONGRESS AND CIVIL SOCIETY:

With Canada’s new political climate coinciding with the run-up to the Paris COP21 meetings from November 30 to December 11, there has been a flood of energy and climate policy documents from Canada’s think tanks and advocacy groups. Some examples: Broadbent Institute and Mowat Centre, Step Change: Federal Policy Ideas towards a Low-Carbon Canada  ;    Climate Action Network (CAN), A Paris Package that shows Canada Cares ; the David Suzuki Foundation statement , which endorses the CAN priorities; Powering Climate Prosperity     from the Canadian Council on Renewable Electricity, and “A Clean Energy Agenda for Canada”  in IRPP’s Policy Options (October), written by Dan Woynillowicz of Clean Energy Canada. Resource economist Marc Jaccard  also writes in Policy Options (November), with his views that emissions targets are not as important as the right policies, and “ Everything else is fluff, including government spending programs.”

On November 18, the Canadian Labour Congress released CLC’s COP21 Statement which inserts workers’ needs in this climate discussion. The statement includes a thorough statement of why Labour cares, and what the CLC demands: “The CLC will strongly advocate for compensation, retraining, re-employment and relocation for affected workers and their communities, and demands Just Transition commitments to support those workers who risk being displaced by climate change or by climate change policies and mitigation measures. …. Carbon reduction policies must be combined with progressive tax and expenditure policies and the establishment of Just Transition funds.  These funds should be governed by an independent Just Transition board with labour representation…… The CLC calls on Canada to commit to a legally binding target to cut our domestic carbon pollution by 17% below 2005 levels by 2020 and 38% by 2030, returning it to the trajectory of achieving 80% reductions by 2050. …The Canadian labour movement supports a national cap and trade carbon-pricing system, which will serve to set a maximum emission level, in line with the overall national targets. In many cases, emission reduction activities would result in modernizing plants and improving workers’ health and safety….. The CLC calls on Canada to commit $400 million annually to the Green Climate Fund, and recognize the legitimacy of developing country calls for additional funding, not through the Green Climate Fund, for losses and damage resulting from climate change.”

BlueGreen Canada also sent a specific request to the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change stating, “… we urge you to keep Just Transition and Decent Work language in the preamble and operational Articles of the future Paris Agreement, as stated in the bracketed section of Article 2, Option 1 of the draft agreement and decision from October 23, 2015.”

Other avenues for civil society input: the 100% Possible March  in Ottawa on November 29 , planned and organized by a “Who’s Who” of Canadian environmental advocacy , including many labour organizations – CAPE,CLC, CSN, CSQ, FTQ, IATSE,OSSTF, PIPSC, and PSAC.   An international Virtual People’s Climate March is also being organized for November 29, especially important in light of the restrictions on demonstrations in Paris.

In the first such meeting in seven years, Canada’s Premiers met with Canada’s Prime Minister in Ottawa on November 23   . Two topics are on the agenda: Syrian refugees, and the Canadian position at the UN negotiations at COP21 in Paris, to which the Premiers were invited. To follow developments at COP21 from a Canadian perspective, see Simon Fraser University’s Clean Energy Canada analysis  , or the National Observer “Road to Paris” series . The official UNFCC COP21 website is here .