The Role of Work and the Labour Movement to Slow Global Warming

PrintWork in a Warming World, released by McGill Queen’s University Press on April 15, begins with the acknowledgement that the world of work – goods, services, and resources – produces most of the greenhouse gases created by human activity. In ten chapters, the book’s contributors demonstrate “how the world of work and the labour movement need to become involved in the struggle to slow global warming, and the ways in which environmental and economic policies need to be linked dynamically in order to effect positive change”. The book is organized into “Trends and Challenges”, such as the dilemma of the Canadian labour movement, and gender analysis of emissions reduction, and “Making Green Work”, with examples from the construction, hospitality, and energy industry, as well as chapters on sustainable infrastructure and its implications for the engineering profession, and the role of cities and the green economy. The book has a Canadian focus, but includes an international context. Chapters were written by associates of the Work in a Warming World research project funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, led by Professor Carla Lipsig-Mummé.

Good Jobs and GHG Reductions Promised by Vancouver Transit Plan

Good Jobs, Clean Skies examines the potential economic and climate impacts of the Mayors’ Council Regional Transit Plan, which calls for an investment of $7.5 billion over the next ten years, to cope with the expected immigration of 1 million new residents to the Vancouver Tri-City area.

The analysis forecasts 26,322 person years of new direct employment, 43,800 person years of total employment, $2.96 billion in wages, and $4.48 billion toward GDP in Metro Vancouver over its 10 year life span. Additionally, the area would experience an 8.2% decrease in greenhouse gas emissions from transport, versus a business as usual approach, and the plan would save more than $1 billion in traffic congestion costs. By improving by 7% the number of jobs accessible by transit, the Plan would support targets for livability, growth, and location of employment.

The study is a co-publication of Green Jobs BC and Blue Green Canada. In February 2015, the Mayors Council had released a report by InterVISTAS Consulting, The Economic Impact of Mayors’ Transportation and Transit Plan 2014 – 2045. That report forecasts direct, indirect and induced jobs, finding 40,000 jobs created for the capital phase, and 197,000 created in operations from 2014-2045. The consultants’ report doesn’t address other economic benefits such as reduced congestion, improved goods movement, and improved labour mobility, nor does it forecast the environmental benefits. The Transit Plan is subject to a Referendum vote underway until  May 29, 2015. 

Employee-Related Initiatives at Canada’s Greenest Workplaces

The results of the 9th annual Canada’s Greenest Employers competition were made available online at the Globe and Mail on Earth Day. “Canada’s greenest employers help the Earth – and their bottom lines” (April 22) is a quick overview, but the online list of winners allows readers to select each employer by name, and find much more detail on the reasons why they were selected: e.g. unique initiatives, presence of an environmental audit, organizational responsibility for green initiatives, building LEED rating, community initiatives, etc. Companies are listed both for the environmental impact of their products/services, and their workplace policies. For example, Nature’s Path is an organic food manufacturer in Richmond, B.C., but was also cited for its mandatory sustainability training for all new employees. Keilhauer, a custom furniture manufacturer in Toronto, is included for its in-house “Design for Environment” employee training program, which began in 2011 and sparked the switch to more environmentally-responsible manufacturing processes such as water-based wood stains and  FSC-certified wood. Not all employers on the list produce green products: e.g. Labatt’s Breweries is included because of its significant water and waste reduction programs, and for its employee engagement initiatives – all employee suggestions for green improvements are entered into a searchable database so employees in any of the parent company Anheuser-Busch locations around the world can learn from each other. The Greenest Employers list is linked to the Eluta job search engine to aid job-seekers who prefer to work for a green company.

Organizations will need Leaders with Sustainability Competencies

Sustainability Talent Management: The New Business Imperative is a consultant’s report released in April by Alberta firm Strandberg Consulting. Arguing that companies will need to reinvent themselves to secure their access to resources and the social license to operate and grow, the author reviewed the business and human resource management literature since 2005 to arrive at five competencies required for leaders to successfully cope with the sustainability issues. These are: systems thinking, external collaboration, social innovation, sustainability literacy, and active values. It concludes: “Professional associations, management education and business schools should consider their role in equipping future leaders with these competencies. HR, talent and learning and development professionals can identify gaps in their current approach to leadership development and build these leadership qualities to enable future sustainable and commercial success. Organizations can use these competencies to enhance the talent pipeline and develop the next generation of leaders and the organizational capacities to steer corporations toward a sustainable future for all”.

U.S. Climate Policy Considers Health Effects of Climate Change, Including Occupational Health

On April 7th, the Obama administration announced a series of new initiatives which will highlight the health risks of climate change, especially for children, the elderly and the vulnerable. In the companion Climate and Health Assessment report released by the U.S. Global Change Research Program, outside workers are identified as exceptionally vulnerable to heat extremes. ” Certain occupational groups that spend a great deal of time exposed to extreme temperatures such as agricultural workers, construction workers, and electricity and pipeline utility workers are at increased risk for heat-and cold-related illness, especially where jobs involve heavy exertion… Lack of heat illness prevention programs that include provisions for acclimatization was found to be a factor strongly associated with death”. The report cites numerous other reports on heat  effects, including a 2014 report from the Centers for Disease Control, “Heat Illness and Death Among Workers – United States, 2012-2013”.

Job Benefits of the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions

An analysis published at the end of March by the New Climate Institute of Germany estimates  the co-benefits associated with the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC)  targets of the EU, as well as the anticipated statements from the U.S. and China. The co-benefits include the cost savings associated with reduced fossil fuel imports, the reduction in premature deaths associated with reduced air pollution, and the generation of green jobs in the renewable energy sector.

Job creation forecasts were only made for wind, solar, and hydro electricity sectors, and within that, only for manufacturing, construction and installation, and operation and maintenance. Even within those conservative parameters, the forecasts show that if the IDNC’s of the three jurisdictions were strengthened so that they actually would meet the 2 degree celsius reduction target, job creation would be 350,000 in the EU, 180,00 in the U.S.,  and 1.4 million in China. Assessing the Missed Benefits of Countries’ National Contributions  demonstrates that “the achievement of a 2°C compatible trajectory does not only preserve the well-being of future generations, but may also generate positive economy-wide returns, rather than costs for the current generation”. 

The European Circular Economy Debate Informed by New Job Creation Report

An interim report by the Club of Rome examines the social benefits that a circular economy would bring to the Swedish economy. The full report, due out in summer 2015, will include the Dutch and Spanish economies as well. The Circular Economy and Benefits for Society: Swedish Case Study shows Jobs and Climate as Clear Winners estimated the effects of three different scenarios to reduce carbon emissions.

The report found that if all three decoupling strategies were undertaken together, carbon emissions would be cut by almost 70% and job creation  would likely exceed 100,000. This report was partly supported by Swedish Association of Recycling Industries, and was released with the stated objective of influencing the current political debate in the European Commission, where a proposed Circular Economy program was withdrawn amidst controversy in 2014. The original proposal, included a 70 per cent recycling and reuse target for 2030, as well as a requirement to increase the recycling rate for packaging waste to 80 per cent by 2030 and a ban on the landfilling of recyclable plastics, metals, glass, paper and cardboard, and biodegradable waste by 2025. Read also Circular Economy Package Consultation Expected Before Summer (April 21) and follow developments from the official EC Circular Economy website.

Two years after Rana Plaza – the Fashion Industry hangs its hat on Greening, not Labour Rights

On April 24, 2013, the Rana Plaza garment factory in Bangladesh collapsed, killing 1,134 people and injuring thousands more. Two  years later, according to a report, by Human Rights Watch, working conditions and labour rights are unchanged. However, the garment industry is working to burnish its public image on sustainability issues. The recently-released H&M Conscious Action Sustainability Report 2014, discusses “the challenges” in the industry, which they identify as “Clean water, climate change, textile waste and wages and overtime in supplier factories”. But  in a press release titled, “H&M’s sustainability promises will not deliver a living wage” (Apr. 9) the Clean Clothes Campaign states: “Despite announcing partnership projects with the ILO, education schemes alongside Swedish trade unions, and fair wage rhetoric aplenty, H&M has so far presented disappointingly few concrete results that show progress towards a living wage. H&M are working hard on gaining a reputation in sustainability, but the results for workers on the ground are yet to be seen”. The Clean Clothes Campaign is an alliance of trade unions and NGOs in 16 European countries.

 H&M, along with Target, Gap, and Levi Strauss, has been commended by the Clean by Design program of the National Resource Defense Council for their progress in incorporating environmental performance in their procurement decisions. In April, NRDC also released The Textile Industry Leaps forward with Clean by Design: Less Environmental Impact with Bigger Profits which describes the extent of the pollution in textile mills in China, and highlights  the mills which made operational improvements and achieved the most cost savings, chiefly through increased motor and lighting efficiency, process water reuse, and heat recovery from exhaust.

The Premiers’ Summit on Climate Change Reveals Divisions, but the Act on Climate March shows Solidarity

The Premiers of Canada’s provinces met in a Summit in Quebec City on April 13th, sparking high hopes which were not met, according to the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions, Interprovincial climate summit a damp squib. In “Interprovincial climate summit reveals rifts in Canada’s carbon strategy”, the Globe and Mail (April 14) called the final joint communiqué  “vague”, going only so far as referencing “transitioning to a lower-carbon economy” and “strengthening co-operation” on climate measures. And the Calgary Herald editorial, “On the Hot Seat”, criticized Alberta Premier Prentice for skipping the Summit. B.C. Premier Christy Clark spent her day addressing the World Bank instead of attending, but issued a challenge to other Premiers regarding B.C.’s climate action plan 2.0: “meet it or beat it”.

The Premiers meeting, however, sparked the Act on Climate March, organized by environmental groups, and including First Nations, trade unions, social and citizens’ groups, student associations, and individuals. The march attracted 25,000 marchers on April 11 and, according to participant Judy Rebick’s article, Huge march raises temperature, “…the Act On Climate march was an historic moment in the fight against climate change in Canada and a major step forward in the movement towards merging the environmental and social justice movements as promoted in Naomi Klein’s new book, not to mention a rare common action between Quebec and the rest of Canada…It was an important if not historic moment in our struggle”. For a union viewpoint, read also CUPE Says Yes to Action on Climate.

Also, on April 13, the Canadian Roundtable on the Green Economy was organized by SWITCH, the Alliance for a Green Economy in Quebec, a business-environmental alliance. The press release lists all participants, endorses carbon pricing, and affirms the central role of cities to promote a greener economy through  sustainable procurement policies and innovative urban development. A second group of business, aboriginal and civic leaders went on record with their position concerning climate change policies in Canadian Leaders Pen Low Carbon Economy Letter to Premiers (April 12), at the Sustainable Prosperity website.    

 

…Also from the Premiers’ Summit: Ontario Announces Cap-and-Trade

The main outcome of the Quebec City meetings occurred beforehand on April 13, with the Joint Statement of Intent from the Ontario and Quebec Premiers. Ontario announced that it would join Quebec in a cap-and-trade system to reduce carbon emissions. The Ontario government press release, provides links to earlier discussion papers and whatever details are currently available. Reactions to the announcement were generally positive but tinged with questions about the effectiveness of the cap-and-trade system. See Want to make Polluters pay? Opt for a carbon tax over cap and trade from EcoJustice or reaction from Environmental Defence. From  the new Clean Economy Alliance of Ontario, launched on April 8 by 50+ Ontario businesses, labour unions, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, and environmental groups: “Ontario should join with the many other jurisdictions around the world in putting a price on carbon. The province must also take complementary actions in other key sectors across Ontario’s economy including energy efficiency, renewable energy, climate friendly land-use planning, and low-carbon transportation”. 

Cap-and-Trade or Carbon Tax?

Recent reports have examined the strengths and weaknesses of the two systems. On April 7, the EcoFiscal Commission released The Way Forward: A Practical Approach to Reducing Canada’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions which employs policy analysis and new economic modelling to reach recommendations that every province should put a price on carbon, that existing and new policies should increase in stringency over time, should be designed to be as broad as practically possible, should be tailored to each province’s unique economic contexts and priorities, yet should be designed for longer-term coordination.

On April 13, Clean Energy Canada released Inside North America’s largest Carbon Market: Top Lessons from the Front Lines of Quebec’s Fight Against Carbon Pollution. Together with their February report, How To Adopt a Winning Carbon Pricewhich focused on British Columbia’s carbon tax, Clean Energy Canada provides what they call “under the hood” comparisons of the  two approaches to carbon pricing. 

 Sustainable Prosperity also weighed in with two Briefing Notes on April 23; Briefing Note #1

summarizes the rationale for pricing carbon, and the main policy approaches i.e. carbon tax and cap-and-trade. Briefing Note #2 reviews the key policy design criteria and considerations, and how they differ across approaches. 

Oil and Gas and Canada’s Energy Policy

Two other reports were released in advance of the Premiers meetings in Quebec City. Crafting an Effective Canadian Energy Strategy: How Energy East and the Oil Sands Affect Climate and Energy Objectives by the Pembina Institute reviews Canadian experience with carbon pricing, emissions levels, and states that any energy strategy will only be effective if it takes into account the emissions footprint of new infrastructure projects, including the proposed Energy East pipeline project. The report also recommends that the Council of the Federation create an advisory committee modelled on the disbanded National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy. The report is also available in French.

 Another study, released by Environmental Defence and Greenpeace, makes similar arguments and asserts that “continuing to expand tar sands production makes it virtually impossible for Canada to meet even weak carbon reduction targets or show climate leadership”. Read Digging a Big Hole: How tar sands expansion undermines a Canadian energy strategy that shows climate leadership.

 In April, Environment Canada released the UNFCC-mandated report, National Inventory Report 1990-2013: Greenhouse Gas Sources and Sinks in Canada. The report states that the Energy industry was responsible for 81% of Canada’s emissions in 2013. 

Health Studies of the Oil and Gas Industry

On March 26, the government of British Columbia released the Northeast Oil and Gas Human Health Risk Assessment Studywhich includes a scientific literature review, a screening level risk assessment, a detailed human health risk assessment, a review of the current regulatory framework, and recommendations for future research and action. According to the Minister of Health, “After careful review and analysis, the study found that the risk to human health from emissions from oil and gas activities in the Northeast remains low”. The report did make 14 recommendations regarding: emergency planning; flaring, venting and fugitive emission management; hydraulic fracturing; information management; and environmental monitoring. All documentation from the study is available online.

 Of related interest, several recent U.S. studies: “Predictors of Indoor Radon Concentrations in Pennsylvania 1989-2013” appeared in Environmental Health Perspectives on April 9. Researchers from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health measured radon levels in U.S. homes near the Marcellus shale fields since fracking began in 2004 and found higher readings of radon, compared with homes in low-activity areas. Another study, Wasting Away: Four states’ failure to manage oil and gas waste in the Marcellus and Utica Shale, conducted by Earthworks, explored  state oversight of drilling in New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The article particularly focuses on the identification and handling of the potentially hazardous waste materials left behind after fracking. Finally, the Environmental Defense Fund in the U.S. has recently released the latest of 16 studies they commissioned/collaborated on regarding methane leaks in the oil and gas sector. 

Canadian Study finds no Significant Health Impacts from Wind Energy

Understanding the Evidence: Wind Turbine Noise, was published on April 9 by the Council of Canadian Academies, and concludes that the only adverse health effect of wind turbines is annoyance. From the report: “We identified 32 health issues and then analyzed the published peer reviewed studies on each problem to determine if there was evidence for a causal relationship with wind turbine noise…We can say conclusively that hearing loss is not related to wind turbine noise”. The experts also concluded that there is limited evidence for sleep disturbance, but inadequate evidence to link any of the other studied health issues.

Cities, including Vancouver and Los Angeles, keep Reducing GHGs

At the World Congress of the ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability in April in Seoul, Korea, mayors from over 100 cities adopted the The Seoul Declaration, and a new Strategic Plan 2015-2021. The meetings also launched the Transformative Actions Program (TAP) to improve access to existing capital and encourage additional public and private capital investment. The Press release summarizes the meetings.

At the meetings, Vancouver and Montreal joined the Compact of Mayors, launched in 2014 and described as “the world’s largest effort for cities to fight climate change”. The Compact entails a commitment for cities to make deep GHG emissions reductions and report on their progress annually, using a standardized international measurement system. Vancouver has announced a goal of 100% renewable energy in 20 years for electricity, heating, cooling, and transportation – a big jump from the current 32 per cent of its energy from renewable sources. The City maintains a website to describe and monitor progress on its Green City Action Plan 2020.

The Mayor of Los Angeles recently released a Sustainability Plan, titled The pLAn, which addresses transit, housing, air quality, water, renewable energy and carbon footprint, as well as environmental justice and green jobs. Amongst the goals: a landfill diversion rate of 90%, more electric vehicle infrastructure than any of the cities in the U.S., and complete divesture from coal power by 2025; to reduce greenhouse gas emissions citywide to 60% below 1990 levels and to source 50% of water locally by 2035. The section on “Prosperity and Green Jobs” sets short term (2017) goals of attracting $100 million of private-sector investment though the LA Clean Tech Incubator, creating 20,000 new green jobs, and increasing the minimum wage to $13.25 per hour. By 2035, the goal is at least 150,000 new green jobs. The overall vision includes workforce development initiatives to create private-sector partnerships for apprenticeship programs in green industries, and to partner with higher education institutions to retain high-skill graduates and enlarge the talent pool in Los Angeles. Importantly, the pLAn will be integrated into the city’s administration: for example, the General Manager’s annual performance review will include measures of progress and outcomes from the pLAn, and Chief Sustainability Officers will be appointed in key departments.

For information about the sustainability, building energy use and climate change policy work of cities around the world, a series of documents was released in April by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group and the World Green Building Council (WGBC). Toronto and Vancouver are the only Canadian cities profiled.

New Website to Monitor Supply Chain pledges Re Deforestation and Agricultural Commodities

On March 25, Forest Trends, in collaboration with CDP and WWF, launched Supply Change.org, a web portal to track corporate supply chain commitments relating to the purchase of palm oil, soy, timber and pulp, and cattle. A report released in tandem with the portal, Supply Change: Corporations, Commodities and Commitments that Count provides an “inaugural snapshot of corporate commitments and performance”, based on publically-available data from 243 companies describing 307 commitments.

In April, fast-food giant McDonalds exceeded expectations by pledging to eliminate deforestation from its global supply chain for all commodities linked to deforestation, including beef, fiber-based packaging, coffee and poultry, and palm oil. A summary appeared in The Guardian, “McDonald’s to axe deforestation in its supply chain” (April 21), and the 8-point corporate statement is online.  

Two out of Three – U.S., Mexico Submit their INDC Targets – but Not Canada

March 31st was the deadline set by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) for each nation to submit a statement of its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) to greenhouse gas emission reduction, as a precursor to the climate discussions in Paris in December. The United States set an ambitious economy-wide target to reduce emissions by up to 28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2025. Read the White House Fact Sheet: U.S. Reports its 2025 Emissions Target to the UNFCCC.

Reductions will be accomplished primarily through fuel economy standards, energy efficiency for buildings, limiting methane emissions from the oil and gas sector, and reducing emissions from existing power plants. The statement by Mexico was the first by a developing country, and pledges a 22 per cent reduction of GHG emissions and 51 per cent cut in black carbon emissions by 2030. Prime Minister Harper promised our INDC submission by May, and lowered expectations, according to a Globe and Mail article (April 23) “Harper suggests Canada likely won’t match U.S. emissions targets”. All INDC submissions are cumulated at the UNFCC website.

 In addition, the U.S. and Mexico issued a joint statement which states, “The two countries will launch a new high-level bilateral clean energy and climate policy task force to further deepen policy and regulatory coordination in specific areas including clean electricity, grid modernization, appliance standards, and energy efficiency, as well as promoting more fuel efficient automobile fleets in both countries, global and regional climate modeling, weather forecasting and early alerts system”. Two countries – not including Canada. 

Displacement in the Energy Industry: Fossil Fuels have “Lost the Race”; Wind Power Growing; Coal Workers Displaced

Analysis presented at the Bloomberg New Energy Finance annual summit in New York on April 14 was titled: Fossil Fuels Just Lost the Race Against Renewables: This is the beginning of the end (April 14). Bloomberg states that the shift occurred in 2013, when the world added 143 gigawatts of renewable electricity capacity, compared with 141 gigawatts in new plants that burn fossil fuels.

More statistics and a forecast are presented in a White Paper, Medium-term outlook for US power: 2015 = deepest decarbonization ever (April 8). And an International Energy Agency (IEA) press release in March states that global emissions of carbon dioxide from the energy sector stalled in 2014, marking the first time in 40 years in which there is a drop in GHG emissions that was not tied to an economic downturn. “Preliminary IEA data point to emissions decoupling from economic growth for the first time in 40 years” (13 March, 2015). The IEA attributes the halt in emissions growth to expanding reliance on renewables in China and energy efficiency improvements in OECD countries. China alone added 23 GW in wind power, almost half the world’s new wind installation capacity in 2014, according to the Global Wind Energy Market Report 2014 by the Global Wind Energy Council. Canada ranked 6th in new wind installations in 2014 and now ranks 7th in cumulative installed capacity in the world. Canada also appears in the report regarding the use of green bonds to finance wind power, illustrated by  the case of Northland Power.
 
Duke University researchers used input output modelling to measure job loss, gains, and displacement in each sector of the electricity sector in “Employment Trends in the U.S. Electricity Sector, 2008-2012” in the journal Energy Policy in March (access restricted). They report that the U.S. coal industry lost more than 49,000 jobs, while the natural gas, solar and wind industries together created nearly four times that amount.  

 

Do Governments have a Legal Obligation to Protect their Citizens from Climate Change? Yes, say the Oslo Principles and Citizens in Netherlands and Belgium

In March, a group of experts in international, human rights, and environmental law released the Oslo Principles on Global Obligations to Reduce Climate Change. “These Principles set out the legal obligations of States and enterprises to take the urgent measures necessary to avert climate change and its catastrophic effects”. Based on a network of local, national and international laws, the Oslo Principles outline specific measures and assert that these should be undertaken “without regard to cost”. The lack of an international agreement does not relieve nations from their duty to their citizens.

The brief Principles document is accompanied by a more extensive Commentary (94 pages). The members of the Oslo Principles group are supporting a court challenge in the Netherlands, the first case in Europe in which citizens attempt to hold a state responsible for its inaction against climate change, and the first case in the world in which human rights are used as the legal basis for its arguments. The Urgenda Climate Case opened  on April 14, and a verdict is promised on June 24th. The plaintiffs are asking the Court to order the Dutch State to reduce its CO2 emissions by 40% below 1990 levels by 2020. A similar case is under preparation in Belgium. 

Alternative Economic Models proposed for the 21st Century by a new U.S. Group

The Next System is a new project “that seeks to disrupt or replace our traditional institutions for creating progressive change”. Its backers include Greenpeace President Annie Leonard, clean energy champion Van Jones, United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard, Gerald Hudson, Mark Levinson and Peter Colavito from Service Employees Intl Union, Ron Blackwell, UNITE and AFL-CIO, Joe Uehlein from the Labor Network for Sustainability, climate activist Bill McKibben, and hundreds of other prominent academics including Noam Chomsky, Frances Fox Piven, and Jeffrey Sachs. The project launches with a webinar on May 20th, and has already released its inaugural report, The Next System Project: New Political Economic Alternatives for the 21st Century. The report states that such new movements as the Next System “seek a cooperative, caring, and community-nurturing economy that is ecologically sustainable, equitable, and socially responsible”. It draws inspiration from a variety of alternative systemic models and ideas, including employee ownership and self-management, cooperatives, social democracy, participatory economic planning, socialism and public ownership, localism and bioregionalism, and ecological economics.

Climate Action Policy Prescriptions for Canada

Two sets of recommendations were recently released: on March 18, by a new academic collaboration, Sustainable Canada Dialogues (SCD); and on March 19, in the Alternative Budget published annually by the Canadian Centre for Policy Analysis. The Sustainable Canada Dialogues document, Acting on Climate Change: Solutions from Canadian Scholars, and a french-language version,  Agir sur les changements climatiques, are characterized  as “a scholarly consensus on science-based, viable solutions for greenhouse gas reduction”.

Sixty academics from across Canada combined to urge policymakers to adopt a long-term target of at least an 80% reduction in emissions by mid-century. “In the short-term, we believe that Canada, in keeping with its historical position of aligning with US targets, could adopt a 2025 target of a 26-28% reduction in GHG emissions relative to our 2005 levels”. Policy recommendations include, most immediately: Either a national carbon tax or a national economy-wide cap and trade program; elimination of subsidies to the fossil fuel industry; and integration of sustainability and climate change into landscape planning at the regional and city levels so that maintenance and new infrastructure investments contribute to decarbonizing.

The paper also advocates establishment of East-West smart grid connections to allow hydro-producing provinces to  sell electricity to their neighbours; energy efficiency programs, and a “transportation revolution”. The Acting on Climate Change document will be followed by a special issue of Alternatives Journal magazine, to be released on March 27, to include more detailed articles by 20 of the SCD participant authors. Sustainable Canada Dialogues, launched in September 2014, is partnered with three institutions in Panama, and “proposes to advance sustainability education, research and social dialogues in Panama and in Canada”.

The second statement of recommended climate policies appears in the CCPA Alternative Budget for 2015, Delivering the Good. The Alternative Budget, like the government budget statement that it shadows, covers the full range of economic and social issues facing Canada. It also includes a section on the Environment and Climate Change, which states: “The best current budget opportunities include implementing a price on greenhouse gas emissions through a carbon tax; not subsidizing liquefied natural gas (LNG) or hydraulic fracturing (fracking); protecting Canada’s public lands and species at risk; and supporting power storage through accelerated expense write-offs, electric vehicles through fast-charging recharging stations in high-demand areas, and public transit and energy efficiency home retrofits”. A National Harmonized Carbon Tax should be implemented immediately, at $30 a tonne (the current level in British Columbia), increasing to $200 a tonne by 2020. More than half of the HCT revenues should be used to provide a Green Tax benefit for individuals and the remainder transferred to the provinces to fund “climate change abatement measures”. It is estimated that the carbon tax would generate annual revenue of $16 billion, with the Green Tax Refund incurring a net annual cost of $8.8 billion (p. 28).   Is the time finally right for serious consideration of Canada’s climate change policies? As Environmental Defense reported on March 9, NDP, Liberals and Greens agree on an Approach to Assess Carbon Pollution Reduction. Calling it “a step in the right direction”, the blog describes the February 19 debate in the House of Commons around Bill C-619, the Climate Change Accountability Act, a private members bill introduced by NDP Matt Kellway in June 2014. NDP, Liberals and Greens are now on record as supporting the Bill’s accountability measures and the target of  domestic greenhouse gas emissions reductions to at least 80% below 1990 levels by the year 2050.

CUPE Provides a New Guide for Greener Workplaces

The Canadian Union of Public Employees, in advance of Earth Day in April 2015, has released Healthy Clean and Green: A Worker’s Action Guide to a Greener Workplace. CUPE answers the basic question, “Is climate change a union issue?” and then focuses on workplace actions and solutions, with examples and tips to improve energy efficiency, recycling and reduction of resources, worker education, and workplace environment committees. The book also describes the LEED features of the CUPE National Headquarters in Ottawa. To further encourage greening activities, the union announced the 2015 CUPE Green Workplace Contest, with a deadline of May 2015.

How are U.S. Unions Working Toward a Climate-Safe Economy for All Workers?

Joe Uehlein, Co-founder and Executive Director of the Labor Network for Sustainability (LNS), has written A Climate Protection Guide to Organized Labor, which summarizes the issues and arguments regarding the role of U.S. labour in the fight against climate change. Joe’s essay also introduces the Labor Landscape Analysis, a “set of tools” compiled by the LNS and consisting of several units. For climate activists not familiar with the labour movement, The Labor-Climate Landscape: A Guided Tour for Worker- and Climate-Protection Advocates explains decision-making in labour unions, relationships in the movement, and the climate change policies of 42 U.S. unions, as well as the role of more than 800 local, regional and national labour leaders. It updates and expands on Labor and Climate Change: A Briefing Paper for Activists (2010). In his introductory essay, Joe Uhelein states: “The threat of global warming requires a different concept of solidarity, one which recognizes the common interest of all workers in climate protection. That concept gives all unions a legitimate role in shaping labor’s climate policy. But it also gives them an obligation to protect the livelihoods and well-being of any workers who might be adversely affected by climate protection policies through a just transition to a climate-safe economy”.

 

Workforce Development Issues for the Expansion of Wind Energy in the U.S.

Wind Vision: A New Era for Wind Power in the United States was released by the White House on March 12, providing an overview of the U.S. wind industry and projections for the future. Analysis focuses on greenhouse gas (GHG) and pollution reductions, electricity price impacts, job and manufacturing trends, and water and land use impacts – for the years 2020, 2030, and 2050. The study provides a roadmap of actions to achieve a goal of 35% wind energy in the U.S. by 2050, at which time the wind industry would employ more than 600,000 people. Workforce development is one of nine core topics in the roadmap, detailed in item M8 of the Appendix.  The workforce development recommendations build on previous research published by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in 2012, National Skills Assessment of the U.S. Wind Industry by Levanthal and Tegen.

Ontario Appoints a Climate Change Advisory Group

In March 9, the government of Ontario appointed John Godfrey as Special Advisor, and created a new Climate Change Advisory Group which he will chair. The Climate Action Group is composed of academics, business and civic leaders, with one representative from the labour movement: James St. John, the business manager of the Central Ontario Building Trades. The advisory group is meant to  collaborate closely with Québec’s Climate Change Advisory Committee to support work between the two provinces.

 

Alberta Regulations Re Water Management and Tailings Management

On March 13, the Alberta government announced two new policies meant to provide environmental protections in the Athabasca Oil Sands area. The Tailings Management Framework for Mineable Oilsands limits the amount of tailings allowed to accumulate and  requires that sites be remediated to a ready-to-reclaim state within 10 years of the end-of-mine-life of a project. Companies are encouraged to invest in new technology, and are required by the Conservation and Reclamation Regulation to post additional financial security to deal with potential remediation issues. Read the Pembina Institute reaction, Tailings Management Framework: A new Chapter in the Alberta Oil Sands Story? (March 16). Regarding water policy, The Surface Water Quantity Management Framework establishes limits for water use during low-flow periods and requires maintenance of an adequate quantity of water for Aboriginal river navigation and pursuit of traditional activities. It does not establish Ecosystem Base Flow (EBF) system, as recommended by scientists. The Council of Canadians reacted by pointing out that the Framework restrictions are voluntary, and provide exemptions to Suncor and Syncrude, even if water levels are low. The explanation? Under NAFTA Chapter 11, the government of Canada could be sued if Alberta were to limit the current water access of the oil sands companies.  SumOfUs.org, Keepers of the Athabasca, Environmental Defence Canada and the Natural Resources Defence Council issued a joint press release condemning the new regulations as an “oil industry wish list”. See also the NRDC blog, New Tar Sands Water Policy from Alberta favors Industry (March 13).

Clean Water Week, March 16-22, including the Importance of Water in the Fracking Debate

The Council of Canadians continues its advocacy for a clean, safe, public water system with a new campaign for a National Water Policy. Their proposals include the creation of a national public water infrastructure fund, a strategy to reduce water pollution (including stronger standards for agriculture, oil sands extraction), a ban of bulk water exports, and exclusion of water from NAFTA and all future trade agreements. On March 12, the Council of Canadians released a new report, On Notice for a Drinking Water Crisis and will be staging protests throughout Canada on World Water Day, March 22. Environmental Defence also marked Water Week with several blogs, including No Energy East Tar Sands in our Water!. And for interesting case studies of the importance of water in the anti-fracking movement, see Getting Off the Frack Track: How Anti-Fracking Campaigns Succeeded in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia (Feb. 20) at the Freshwater Alliance website.

Economic Impact of Alberta Greenhouse Gas Emissions Funds

On February 27, the Conference Board of Canada released Investing in GHG Emissions-Reduction Technology: Assessing the Economic Impact (free with registration). The study quantifies the economic impact of investments in greenhouse gas emission-reducing technologies that are funded in whole or in part by Alberta’s Climate Change and Emissions Management Corporation (CCEMC), and concludes that the total economic impact of CCEMC and related investments from 2011 to 2016 will be over $2.4 billion and an additional 15,017 person-years of full-time-equivalent (FTE) employment. The Pembina Institute reaction (March 5) was to point out that despite any economic gains, the problem remains that there are no significant reductions to greenhouse gas emissions.

 

Resolute Forest Products on Notice after 3M Announces a new Sustainability Policy for Paper Procurement

Following a review of its procurement processes conducted in collaboration with ForestEthics and Greenpeace, multinational 3M released a revised Pulp and Paper Sourcing Policy in March, with high standards for environmental protection and human rights. 3M will no longer use the Sustainable Forests Initiative (SFI) label. Its new policy requires improved monitoring and reporting of source materials, and “free, prior and informed consent by indigenous peoples and local communities before logging operations occur”. The company has already cancelled its contracts with Indonesian Royal Golden Eagle Group-owned suppliers and has warned Montreal-based Resolute Forest Products that it must quickly improve its controversial relationships with First Nations, as well as its practices of logging of caribou habitat and in High Conservation Areas. Read ForestEthics Applauds 3M’s New Industry-Leading Sustainability Plan (March 5), or 3M’s new pulp & paper policy impacts Resolute Forest Products (CBC, March 5). For an excellent history of Resolute’s controversial environmental record, see “Resolute and Greenpeace at Loggerheads” in the Montreal Gazette (Feb 13).

Clean Tech Investments in Canada

Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) began its rollout of announcements of recipients from the SDTC Tech Fund in February in Southwest Ontario and in Quebec on February 16. Of the $25 million invested in Quebec, almost half was directed to Nemaska Lithium Inc., for a pilot demonstration project aimed at lowering costs associated with electric vehicle use. On February 20, seven clean technology projects in Ontario received over $26.8 million and on March 4, similar investments in Alberta were announced. In Alberta, with the top three recipients are projects for cleaner technologies for oil sands. It was B.C.’s turn on March 16, when a further $27.3 million was distributed for 10 projects. Each press release names the recipient companies and summarizes their technologies.

Oregon joins B.C. and California with Clean Fuel Standards

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council the state of  Oregon “clinched a spot in the clean energy future” on March 12 when the Governor signed Bill SB324A, which removes the December 2015 sunset clause on previous legislation requiring the adoption of clean fuel standards, and extends the target date for compliance from 2020 to 2025. With B.C. and California already regulating clean fuels, the NRDC states that it needs only the state of Washington to pass similar standards to “create a corridor of clean fuel demand encompassing more than 50 million people up and down the length of the West Coast, equivalent to the 5th largest economy in the world”. The NRDC draws its information from a detailed and wide-ranging analysis by the International Council on Clean Transportation, Potential: Low-carbon Fuel Supply to the Pacific Coast Region of North America (January 2015). Of related interest, The California Energy Commission issued its 2014 Integrated Energy Policy Report (IEPR) Update in March, highlighting its transportation achievements in electric vehicles, fuel cell development, and biofuels.

Toronto, Vancouver amongst Case Studies of District Energy in Cities Worldwide

A new report  released on February 25 by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in collaboration with the Copenhagen Centre on Energy Efficiency (C2E2), ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, and UN-Habitat, offers concrete policy, finance and technology best practice guidance on energy efficiency improvements and the integration of renewables in cities. District Energy in Cities: Unlocking the Potential of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, offers an analysis of the 45 ‘champion cities’, which have collectively installed more than 36 GW of district heating capacity (equivalent to 3.6 million households), 6 GW of district cooling capacity (equivalent to 600,000 households) and 12,000 km of district energy networks. The case studies include Toronto, Vancouver,  St. Paul Minnesota, Paris, London, Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Milan, Gothenburg, Copenhagen, and Tokyo.

New GHG Emission Reduction Targets for the U.S. Federal Government

The Federal government of the U.S. operates 360,000 buildings, 650,000 fleet vehicles, and spends $445 billion annually on goods and services, making it the largest consumer of energy in the country. To reduce GHG emissions, an Executive Order by President Obama on March 19 mandates that Federal buildings reduce total energy use by 2.5% per year between 2015 to 2025, and increase the proportion of clean energy to 25% by 2025. Water intensity in Federal buildings will also be cut by 2 percent per year till 2025. Regarding the fleet of 650,000 vehicles, the Order establishes a goal of 30% reduction of GHG’s from 2014 levels by 2025. A White House Fact Sheet, Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the Federal Government and Across the Supply Chain (March 19) provides more details, and summarizes the emissions reductions commitments made by major suppliers in the federal government supply chain. Those suppliers include such giants as IBM, HP, AECOMM, Northrup Grumman, and United Technologies.

 

Fossil Fuel Divestment and the New Campaign by the Guardian Newspaper and 350.org

The divestment movement has been busy since global Fossil Fuel Divestment Day in February, with news that hundreds of thousands of academics, engineers and lawyers in Denmark will vote on divesting their €32bn pension funds from fossil fuel investments in April, and that Oxford University is facing protest demonstrations because it has deferred a vote on divestment till May. In March, The Guardian newspaper in the U.K. and 350.org launched the Keep it in the Ground campaign, asking the Wellcome Trust and Gates Foundation to divest their endowments from fossil fuels. The Guardian has been relentlessly posting information and arguments for the cause of divestment: “Bank of England warns of huge financial risk with fossil fuel investments”(March 3); “Mark Carney defends Bank of England over Climate Change Study” (March 10); “UN Backs Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaign” (March 16); “Wellcome Trust sold off 94 million pound ExxonMobil oil investment” (March 18) and, “Revealed: Gates Foundation’s $1.4bn in fossil fuel investments” (March 19). The retiring editor of The Guardian newspaper, Alan Rusbridger,  announced the paper’s new editorial stance in “Climate change: Why the Guardian is Putting Threat to Earth Front and Centre” (March 6). He states: “The coming debate is about two things: what governments can do to attempt to regulate, or otherwise stave off, the now predictably terrifying consequences of global warming beyond 2C by the end of the century. And how we can prevent the states and corporations which own the planet’s remaining reserves of coal, gas and oil from ever being allowed to dig most of it up. We need to keep them in the ground”.

Clean Energy Canada Moves to Simon Fraser University

Clean Energy Canada, formerly a project of Tides Canada, announced on March 2 that it will become a new program within the Centre for Dialogue at Simon Fraser University. The Centre for Dialogue states that “uses dialogue to generate non-partisan and constructive communication around difficult topics. We partner with government, business, and community groups to explore critical issues that impact the social, economic, environmental, and cultural well-being of our communities”. Merran Smith, Director of Clean Energy Canada, has been named a Fellow within the Centre and will continue to lead the program, which aims to accelerate Canada’s transition to a clean and renewable energy system.

Literature Review of Climate Adaptation by Multinationals

A recent working paper by the Grantham Institute at the London School of Economics finds that “there is a paucity of work analysing adaptation actions by MNCs, their motivations and contribution to broader adaptation and climate resilient development efforts, as well as possible instances of maladaptation”. The review points out research gaps and provides a useful bibliography of the academic literature. See Multinational corporations and climate adaptation – Are we asking the right questions? A review of current knowledge and a new research perspective (March 11).

 

British Columbia’s Economic Transition and Just Transition Proposals

A January report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives offers insight into the kinds of just transition policies that will be needed to support labour as carbon-intensive industries are phased out. Just Transition: Creating a Green Social Contract for BC’s Resource Workers is the result of seven focus groups composed of workers from the forestry, mining, and fossil fuel industries. They were asked about their first-hand experiences with transitioning out of industrial employment, and the changes they felt were necessary for workers and communities to thrive alongside effective environmental and climate policies. Participants stressed the importance of improving training and education programs, which were seen as neglecting transferable and upgraded skills in favour of narrow specialization that plugged current labour gaps but left workers vulnerable to wage suppression and unable to change industries without downgrading. Participants also highlighted personal, family and community strain associated with moving to find work or commuting long distances, pointing to the need for related socioeconomic support, counselling, and policies that keep workers closer to home. Local economy diversification and greener, and value-added industries were identified as a way to lower carbon and create more resilient communities, though workers’ concerns highlight that the loss of industrial wages would need to be managed.

The report recommends income security guarantees to maintain stability in resource communities, as well the embrace of alternative models such as worker ownership. Further, the new social contract needed to address the training and socioeconomic needs of transitioning communities should include a just transition fund drawn from resource revenues, harnessing pre-existing tools such as B.C.’s natural gas royalties and carbon tax. The new source of public funds could support investment in job-creating green infrastructure, public transit, renewable energy, and energy efficiency.

The B.C. business community is also recognizing the coming economic transition. Business in Vancouver magazine has launched a new series on the economic impacts of climate change in the province, with a first installment based on interviews with Tom Pedersen of the University of Victoria’s Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions and Deborah Harford of Simon Fraser University.  “Climate Change Looms as Major Threat to Key B.C. Industries” (Feb. 16) considers B.C.’s future in light of problems that have already arisen, including water shortages in the Okanagan, reduced water flow at hydroelectric dams, soil salinization, and ocean acidification impacting shellfish farmers and the salmon industry. The series will continue throughout 2015, engaging experts from diverse fields and industries.

Environmental Groups Stand with U.S. Refinery Workers on Strike for Safety

The United Steelworkers union represents workers at 65 oil refineries in the United States. On February 1, the union announced an unfair labour practice strike at 9 locations, with the remainder operating under a rolling 24-hour contract extension. In a media advisory, the head of the USW National Oil Bargaining Program states: “This work stoppage is about onerous overtime; unsafe staffing levels; dangerous conditions the industry continues to ignore; the daily occurrences of fires, emissions, leaks and explosions that threaten local communities without the industry doing much about it; the industry’s refusal to make opportunities for workers in the trade crafts; the flagrant contracting out that impacts health and safety on the job; and the erosion of our workplace, where qualified and experienced union workers are replaced by contractors when they leave or retire”. Indeed, the dangerous working conditions of the oil industry have been well documented by no less than the U.S. Chemical Safety Board. These safety and health issues have been at the heart of the dispute, and have resulted in widespread public support from environmental and community groups, as summarized in “Striking for Climate Justice” in Dissent Magazine (Feb. 21). The Sierra Club issued an almost immediate statement of support on Feb. 3, ready to do so because of an earlier agreement spelled out in A Common Position on the Future of Oil (September 2013). Public statements of support from other green groups: Oil Change International; Labor Network for Sustainability, and Communities for a Better Environment, a California-based group  which sums it up: “Environmental justice demands everyone’s right to a safe and healthy work environment and challenges the false choice that would force us to choose between our health and our jobs. Indeed, fighting for worker rights protects community health and safety”.

Green Jobs, Green Economies from a Social/Gender Justice Lens

A discussion paper released in February by the ILO and the Global Labour University provides a wide-ranging and well-documented global analysis of Green New Deal programs, green economies, and green jobs. Some excerpts: “…while advocates of the green economy promise the elimination of poverty, the green economy agenda is a new version of what has been described as finance-led accumulation and as such a continuation of the neoliberal project that has fuelled inequality during the past three decades”. Of green jobs, he observes, “statistical evidence suggests that many of the assumptions associated with green jobs are far too optimistic”. Referencing Austrian, EU, and South African studies, he states, “statistical evidence suggests that in terms of working conditions they (i.e. green jobs) are actually worse than average jobs…in sum, female workers are clearly disadvantaged when it comes to the distribution of the benefits from green growth”. Finally, “in sum, an alternative approach to a green transition towards a more sustainable economy and society must go beyond the goal of a thermal insulated capitalism and promote ecological, gender and social justice”. The author particularly discusses the importance of hours of work as a key factor in equality/inequality, and in ecological damage. Source: Green New Deal and the Question of Environmental and Social Justice.

Labour Market Impacts of a Circular Economy in the U.K.

A report released in late January 2015 by the Green Alliance and WRAP in the U.K. considers the regional and occupational patterns of employment in recycling, reuse and remanufacturing activities, with a forecast for the future. Employment and the Circular Economy: Job Creation in a More Resource Efficient Britain concludes that “if Britain continues to develop its resource efficiency, the country’s circular economy sector will create net jobs in regions where unemployment is higher, such as the North East and West Midlands, and among low to mid skilled occupations, where a higher rate of job losses are projected for the future”. The public report is based on a technical report, Opportunities to Tackle Britain’s Labour Market Challenges through Growth in the Circular Economy, which describes the U.K. labour market, explains the methodology and calculations, and forecasts job creation potential for low-skilled, skilled, and professional workers under three different scenarios. In the best case, by 2030 the sector could require an extra  205,000 jobs, reduce unemployment by around 54,000, and offset 11 per cent of future job losses in skilled employment.

Polluter Pays in New Rail Safety Legislation

Bill C-52, The Safe and Accountable Rail Act was announced by the federal Transport Minister on February 20, in the latest of several legislative and regulatory responses  to the tragedy of the Lac Megantic derailment and explosion in 2013. “Ottawa announces Rail Disaster Relief Fund” in the Globe and Mail (Feb. 20) summarizes the provisions, which include the requirement, for the first time, that railways must carry a minimum amount of liability insurance, ranging from $25-million up to $1-billion, depending on their volume of dangerous goods. Additionally, a fee of $1.65-a-tonne will be charged to the companies and pooled in a fund to cover the costs of damages that exceed their insurance. The Act also requires that rail companies implement policies and procedures to ensure workers the right to report fatigue without fear of reprisals. See the text of the Act.

Canada’s Federal Liberal Party takes a Flexible Position on Carbon Pricing

Federal leader Justin Trudeau chose Calgary’s Petroleum Club on February 6 as the venue to announce that, if elected in October 2015, a Liberal government would set national targets for reducing carbon emissions but allow provinces to design and manage the policies to meet them. The Liberal party website provides text of the speech as well as a video. The Pembina Institute reacted to the announcement, as did Clean Energy Canada, which also provides a comparison chart of the positions of three of the four federal parties. There is no shortage of recent policy reports on the issue of carbon pricing, for example: Carbon Pricing and Mind the Hissing from Sustainable Prosperity (case studies of revenue allocation in the carbon pricing systems of B.C., Alberta, and Quebec); How to Adopt a Winning Carbon Price: Top 10 Takeaways from the Architects of British Columbia’s Carbon Tax from Clean Energy Canada; Will Nova Scotia Implement a Carbon Tax? by Brendan Haley at the Progressive Economics Forum. Even the World Bank’s Partnership for Market Readiness has a policy “wish list” in its business-oriented new report, Preparing for Carbon Pricing: Case Studies from Company Experience: Royal Dutch Shell, Rio Tinto, and Pacific Gas and Electric Company.

Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaigns in Canada

Global Divestment Days took place worldwide on February 13 and 14th, organized by 350.org through their Go Fossil Free campaign. In Canada, a divestment campaign led by the UBCC350, (a group of students, faculty, staff, and alumni) climaxed on February 10 with a a largely symbolic vote by UBC Faculty : see “UBC profs vote 62 per cent in Favour of Fossil Fuel Divestment” in the Vancouver Observer (Feb 10  ) and see the press release from UBC350. On February 12, the Financial Post reported that “University of Calgary will not Divest from Fossil Fuels”.

Also in February, the Sustainability and Education Policy Network housed at the University of Saskatchewan released The State of Fossil Fuel Divestment in Canadian Post-Secondary Institutions, which lists all 27 Canadian post-secondary institutions where divestment campaigns were underway as of October 2014, as well as the amount of money currently invested in fossil fuels. The report notes a “disconnect”: “While some campuses have positioned themselves as sustainability leaders, they are still heavily invested in fossil fuel companies”. Other related documents from the ongoing research are at the SEPN website.

A White Paper, Fossil Fuel Divestment: Reviewing Arguments, Policy Implications, and Opportunities was published by the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions (PICS) in January. It  concludes that fossil fuel divestment campaigns can be socially effective but are unable to have any real impact on reducing emissions or financing transition to sustainability without alternative investments that change the structure of the economy. PICS is maintaining a website for ongoing commentary on the issue, and indeed, the paper has been criticized in The Tyee and in the DeSmog Canada Blog for “missing the point” of the importance of divestment to revoke social license.

Fossil Fuel Subsidies Detrimental to Global Climate

A report from the International Institute for Sustainable Development was presented at the  U.N. Geneva Climate Change Conference, held from February 8-13. Fossil-Fuel Subsidies and Climate Change: Options for Policy-makers within their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions argues that removal of fossil fuel subsidies could lead to global GHG emissions reductions of between 6-13% by 2050. The CEO of IISD also stated: “The billions of dollars spent on these subsidies means less money is available for clean energy, health, education and infrastructure”. The report was financed by the Nordic Prime Ministers’ Green Growth Initiative.  The IISD also provides a comprehensive summary of the Geneva meetings.

Local Energy Distribution Vancouver, Guelph, Connecticut

A February report describes the development of the low-carbon Neighbourhood Energy Utility (NEU), which uses a hybrid system of sewage heat recovery (SHR) backed up by natural gas boilers to deliver thermal energy to 24 buildings in the False Creek area of Vancouver. The opportunity arose from the redevelopment of former industrial land into a mixed-use community- a highly capital-intensive project which generated approximately 50 FTE jobs over 3 years of construction, and has resulted in 3.5 highly-skilled engineering jobs in the operational phase. Although the job creation impact is small because of the small scale of the project, author Marc Lee maintains that it is important as an example of public sector innovation which challenges the paradigm of centralized energy distribution, and which could be replicated by other cities. See Innovative Approaches to Low Carbon Urban Systems: A Case Study of Vancouver’s Neighbourhood Energy Utility, published by Economics for Equity and Environment as part of their Future Economy Initiative.

Guelph, Ontario was recently profiled in “Community and Energy in Guelph: Environment and Economy in Partnership” in Engineering Dimensions (Jan/Feb 2015), which briefly describes Guelph’s Community Energy Initiative, begun in 2007. More recently, the Guelph District Energy Strategic Plan explains the concept of distributed urban energy systems, and includes case studies from Mannheim, Copenhagen and North Vancouver. The Guelph plan envisions a system which would supply at least 50 per cent of the heating needs of commercial, institutional and industrial facilities as well as residential dwellings.

In Connecticut in December 2014, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection announced a study to evaluate the merits of distributed energy. In response, a working paper by Jeremy Brecher of the Labor Network for Sustainability discusses the monopoly power of electrical utilities and makes seven proposals to reform a system to reduce GHG’s and be worker- and community-friendly. Connecticut’s Electric Utilities: Time to Revise the Model specifically proposes that the ownership of energy distribution be transferred from private utilities to consumer-owned co-operatives, municipal or state-owned companies, or “other alternatives”. And for a more general vision of some of those alternative models, read the EnergyVision document, A Pathway to a Modern, Sustainable, Low Carbon Economic and Environmental Future by the Acadia Center, released February 15.

Business Voices call for Net-zero Emissions Target at COP21, as well as Carbon Pricing and an end to Fossil Fuel Subsidies

The B-Team, a group of international business leaders, released an Open Letter to Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change on Feb. 5, calling on governments to commit to a zero-net-emissions target for 2050 at the COP 21 talks in Paris in 2015. Further, they call for businesses and governments to adopt meaningful and effective carbon pricing; an end to all fossil fuel subsidies, and redirection of that capital to renewable energy solutions; and for businesses and governments “to ensure the benefits of responses to climate change flow to vulnerable and impoverished communities that suffer disproportionately from climate change and are least equipped to cope with its impacts”. In October 2014, the B-Team partnered with other business organizations (The Climate Group, Ceres, Carbon Disclosure Project, BSR, World Business Council for Sustainable Business and the Prince of Wales Corporate Leaders Group) to form the We Mean Business Coalition.

Ethical Supply Chains: Different View Points

Supply Chain Sustainability Revealed: A Country Comparison, 2014-2015 was commissioned by CDP (a member of the We Mean Business coalition) and authored by Accenture consultants. The report reveals how the suppliers of 66 CDP-member corporations (who spend $1.3 trillion in procurement) are approaching risks and opportunities related to climate change and water. Supply chains in the U.S., China and Italy are considered “vulnerable”. Suppliers in India and Canada are judged as not doing enough to manage climate change risks. Indian companies, in particular, demonstrate a low propensity to report on emissions, and suppliers in Brazil have done the least to manage climate exposures and recent water shortages. A profile of Canadian suppliers is provided on page 14. A more business-oriented report, Beyond Supply Chains: Empowering Responsible Value Chains was jointly authored by the World Economic Forum and Accenture consultants. It highlights 31 supply chain practices which, it is claimed, can increase revenue by up to 20% for responsible products, reduce supply chain costs from 9%-16% and increase brand value by 15%-30%. This commercial success, combined with improved environmental impact and better local economic conditions, is called the “triple supply chain advantage”. The report states that “Adopting the triple advantage can also shrink carbon footprint by up to 22% while enabling companies to contribute to local development”.

Sustainable Energy Updates

The 2015 edition of the Sustainable Energy in America Factbook found that “over the 2007-2014 period, U.S. carbon emissions from the energy sector dropped 9%, U.S. natural gas production rose 25% and total U.S. investment in clean energy (renewables and advanced grid, storage and electrified transport technologies) reached $386 billion”. The report was commissioned by the Business Council for Sustainable Energy and prepared by analysts at Bloomberg New Energy Finance. On February 2, the 2013 Renewable Energy Data Book was released by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) on behalf of the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. Key findings include: Renewable electricity, including hydropower and biopower, grew to nearly 15% of total installed capacity and 13% of total electricity generation in the United States in 2013, compared to 23% of all electricity generation worldwide, and 15% in the UK. Solar electricity was the fastest growing electricity generation technology in the U.S., with cumulative installed capacity increasing by nearly 66% from the previous year.

 

Chilly Climate re Climate Change continues in Canada

In the U.S., the White House National Security Strategy document was released on Feb. 6,  stating that climate change is a significant risk to Americans at home and abroad, along with terrorism and a nuclear Iran. Here in Canada, the intelligence community appears to see things differently. A threat assessment document by the critical infrastructure intelligence team of the RCMP, written in January 2015 and leaked to the press in February, seems skeptical of the world’s understanding of climate science and states: “There is a growing, highly organized and well-financed, anti-Canadian petroleum movement that consists of peaceful activists, militants and violent extremists, who are opposed to society’s reliance on fossil fuels”. See coverage in  The Toronto Star (Feb. 17); The Globe and Mail (Feb. 17); or The Guardian (Feb. 18). For reaction by Greenpeace, one of the groups high on the RCMP’s radar, see “Caring for the Climate is not a Crime in Canada. Yet”, which puts the RCMP document in the context of Bill C-51, Canada’s Anti-terrorism Act, introduced to the House of Commons on January 30, 2015.

As for the media, consider the facts presented by the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions (Feb. 12) in “Do you know who’s writing your climate change news”. The article notes the case of Andrew Weaver, described in more detail in “B.C. MLA Andrew Weaver wins defamation suit against National Post”The Globe and Mail (Feb. 6). PICS puts the Weaver case in a wider context by reporting on the dismissal by Postmedia of both Margaret Munro (nominated for a World Press Freedom Award for her stories on the muzzling of federal government scientists) and Mike De Souza (who wrote about the oil sands and exposed examples of bribery, undeclared conflicts of interest and withheld information relating to the federal government’s energy policy). Energy and oil industry news coverage will now be “centralized” at the  National Post, according to “Postmedia cuts National Writer Jobs, Offers Newsroom Buyouts” in the Globe and Mail (Feb. 5).

Growth of Canada’s Clean Energy, Wind Energy, and more on Grid Parity

Tracking the Energy Revolution – Canada, is the first annual status report by Clean Energy Canada, released in early December 2014. The report states that  $25 billion has been invested in clean energy, resulting in a 37 percent employment increase in the sector in the past five years, so that  by 2013 the clean energy sector (manufacturing, power production, energy efficiency, and biofuels) accounted for more direct Canadian jobs than the oil sands. To back up their job creation claim, Clean Energy published an explanation of the calculations. Full of infographics and tables, the report goes beyond statistics to highlight the leading provinces, companies, projects, and investor groups. It also makes recommendations for the federal and provincial levels and aims to spur laggard jurisdictions to more action.

 

More good news comes in a new report by the Canadian Wind Energy Association: 2014 was a record-breaking year for wind in Canada, with 37 new wind energy projects representing over $3.5 billion in investment. Fifteen of the projects involved municipalities, First Nations, and local farmers; activity was strongest in Ontario, Quebec and Alberta. The Grand Renewable Energy project in Ontario can be considered a poster child for the industry, with over 98% of the workforce on the project from Ontario – from turbine manufacture to construction, installation, and operation. Samsung and Pattern Energy are equity partners with the Six Nations of the Grand River, which owns 10% of the project; Samsung and Pattern Energy provided a $400,000 donation to the Grand River Post-Secondary Education Office, to help Six Nations students. In B.C., the government has provided more than $5.8 million since 2011 to support the participation of over 90 Aboriginal communities in the clean energy sector, including wind energy, biomass and run-of-river hydroelectric power. See “First Nations Clean Energy Funding tops $5.8 million” in the Vancouver Observer (Jan. 6, 2015). And also of interest, a report in January 2015 by Oceana conservation group concludes that offshore wind has the potential to generate more jobs (91,000 more over 20 years) produce more power, and lead to a higher degree of energy independence than offshore drilling for oil and gas, while posing fewer environmental threats. Read Offshore Energy by the Numbers: An Economic Analysis of Offshore Drilling and Wind Energy in the Atlantic
All this, despite the assertion in a December report  that the $548 billion that is paid annually in fossil fuel subsidies around the world have impeded the growth of the renewable energy industry by making fossil fuel power generation appear cheaper than it really is. The Impact of Fossil-Fuel Subsidies on Renewable Electricity Generation was published by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD). Yet even so, Renewable Power Generation Costs in 2014, a landmark report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), states that “biomass, hydropower, geothermal and onshore wind are all competitive with or cheaper than coal, oil and gas-fired power stations, even without financial support and despite falling oil prices. Solar photovoltaic (PV) is leading the cost decline, with solar PV module costs falling 75 per cent since the end of 2009 and the cost of electricity from utility-scale solar PV falling 50 per cent since 2010.”

Canadian Companies Going Green with Energy Efficiency and More

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) “Living Planet @ Work” campaign profiles successful Canadian companies who have switched  to 100% renewable energy and are employing green business practices. Toronto’s Steam Whistle Brewing and Miratel Solutions (a fundraising, call-centre, and online and mailing services company) have been featured so far.

In the case of Steam Whistle Brewing, facilities are kept cool by harnessing cold water from the bottom of Lake Ontario; company vehicles are fueled with biodiesel, and renewable energy, via Bullfrog Power, saves the equivalent of 128 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.

Miratel Solutions began the path to greening the workplace with a ban on plastic water bottles, an extensive recycling program, eco-friendly lighting and retrofitting, and energy-efficient electronics. Since 2006, Bullfrog Power allowed the company to support the transition to renewable energy despite the fact that they rent office space and can’t control its energy supply. Miratel saves the equivalent of 38.1 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year. Other Canadian case studies of energy efficiency projects are profiled in Heads-up CIPEC, the online newsletter of the Canadian Industry Program for Energy Conservation (CIPEC) of Natural Resources Canada.

Solar Jobs in the U.S., and a Survey of Working Conditions

 The newly released U.S. Solar Jobs Census 2014 from the Solar Foundation states that there are 173,807 solar workers in the U.S., representing a growth rate of 21.8% since November 2013.  The installation segment of the solar sector represents the single largest source of domestic employment growth in the U.S., more than doubling in size since 2010.
The report also asserts that diversity is growing since 2013, and that wages remain competitive, with installers earning $20-$24 per hour; assemblers earning close to $18 per hour, solar designers, $30-$40 per hour, and sales staff ranging widely from $30 to $60 per hour. In his response to the release of the Census, the U.S. Energy Secretary highlights the DOE Solar Instructor Training Network at nearly 400 community colleges in 49 states. He states that the program has trained over 30,000 people since 2010, with a goal of 50,000 new solar workers trained by 2020.

 

The Solar Census covers all segments of the solar industry in the U.S. In contrast, The Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition Annual Scorecard surveys and ranks solar PV manufacturers internationally, with the goal “to enhance transparency around environmental health, safety, and sustainability issues for communities, workers, and the environment”. The latest edition, released in late November 2014 names manufacturers and ranks them on environmental issues such as Extended Producer Responsibility, water use, use of conflict minerals, and use of toxic chemicals. It also includes a category for Worker Rights and Health and Safety policies, measured by “a formal commitment to protecting worker rights, health, and safety that goes beyond compliance with local laws and regulations; commitment to improving employee wages; signage informing illiterate workers about minimum wage provisions; coverage of workforce by collective bargaining; workday case rates; recordable incident rates; and adoption of OHSAS for 100% of facilities”. Top ranked companies in the workers rights category in 2014, are Trina (owned by Chinese interests), SunPower (headquartered in California), and REC (recently taken over from Norwegian control by a Chinese company).

Blue and Green Authors Promote Sustainable Forestry over LNG Development in B.C.

An article written jointly by Arnold Bercov, President of the Pulp, Paper and Woodworkers of Canada (PPWC), and two campaigners with the Wilderness Committee environmental group states: “We believe the B.C. government has gradually abandoned the province’s forestry heritage in pursuit of an unsustainable pipe dream: liquefied natural gas exports to Asia. The better option – for a resilient economy and for our climate – is to rebuild an innovative, sustainable forestry sector…What B.C. needs is legislation that supports an innovative and adaptable forest industry that creates local jobs and moves products up the value chain. Raw-log exports must be banned. Strong laws should also be enacted to protect the ecological values of our working forests for future generations”. See “Trees are the Solution that LNG will never be” in the Times Colonist (Dec. 21). The same article appeared in The Tyee (January 5, 2015) under the title “Prosperity? Forestry not Fracking”. The PPWC has also been critical of the unequal distribution of funds in B.C.’s 2014 policy document, Skills for Jobs Blueprint, whereby training support for LNG jobs appears to come at the expense of funding for other sectors, such as forestry. See Local Knowledge and Government Funding Vital to Training the Next Generation of Foresters.

Union/Community Cooperation Builds on De Blasio’s Proposal to Reduce NYC GHG Emissions

A strategy document released in December tackles the triple bottom line, with ten proposals that would create jobs – up to 40,000 per year – while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to climate change. The report is notable for two reasons: it was produced by a broad group of community, environmental and labour union groups in New York, including ALIGN, the National AFL-CIO, the New York City Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO, the BlueGreen Alliance, and the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance.
Secondly, the  proposals in Climate Works for All: A Platform for Reducing Emissions, Protecting Our Communities, and Creating Good Jobs for New Yorkers are specific and detailed. They include mandatory energy efficiency retrofits for large buildings; installing solar energy systems on the rooftops of the 100 largest schools in New York City; investing in microgrids; investing in more bus lines and restoring train lines; improved flood protection and storm water management; improved commercial waste management and recycling.
For each of the ten proposals, there is a detailed discussion which includes consideration of workforce issues: for example, the energy efficiency retrofit proposal includes a recommendation that, “building owners should ensure that building operators are trained in energy-efficient operations. To this end, the City Council should pass Intro 13-2014, a bill that will require large buildings in New York City to have at least one building operator who is certified in energy efficient building maintenance”.

Labour Voices on the International Scene: G20 and Lima Climate Conference

In November 2014, following the G20 Leaders Summit in Brisbane, Australia, the Labour 20 (L20) issued a statement calling on the G20 to take action on climate change and green growth, and to implement a plan for jobs and growth that reduces inequality. From the statement: G20 leaders should “commit to an ambitious and fair share in reducing emissions” to ensure the success of the UN Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations; should  contribute to the Green Climate Fund and support green bond development; commit to investing one percent of gross domestic product in infrastructure in every country, especially that which supports a transition to a low-carbon economy; support industrial transformation measures to protect the livelihoods of those in climate-vulnerable and energy-intensive sectors; support sustainable economic activities; and set attainable food and energy security targets. In addition, the L20 called for measures to promote inclusive growth by enabling women and youth to participate in secure jobs; responsible, green investment strategies; and trade and supply chains that help create decent work and safe work places. The L20 is convened by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and Trade Union Advisory Committee (TUAC) to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). See L20 website and read a summary of the L20 statement.

Lima Leaves Out Key Labour Language

Labour organizations are decrying the lack of language pertaining to just transition policies in the final negotiating agreement of the Climate Conference in Lima in December.

Organizations such as BlueGreen Alliance and Trade Unions for Energy Democracy (TUED) lobbied leaders prior to the Conference, providing recommendations and wording suggestions to facilitate the inclusion of worker protection and reducing inequality in the climate agreement. BlueGreen advocated for improved international collaboration on best practices for just transition, and joined TUED in calling on the parties to prepare data on the positive and negative employment impacts of climate policies to support decision-making.

While a number of governments did raise labour issues at the Conference, co-chairs ultimately left them out of the text altogether. According to the International Trade Union Confederation, however, there was an overall trend of greater recognition of the centrality of just transition to sound climate policy, an active role played by labour organizations at the Conference, and the ongoing expansion and diversification of the climate justice movement, including increasing attention to labour issues. See Lima climate conference deceives, but not the climate movement. A similar assessment was made by the Canadian Union of Public Employees in Climate talks advance slowly, but activism on the rise.

Getting Back on the Climate Track with “Made in Canada” Policies

A new report from the David Suzuki Foundation overviews Canadian provincial and municipal policies that have effectively reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and calls upon the federal government to implement national policies that would coordinate and expand the ingenuity and skills of the existing green workforce. Building on the Best: Keeping Canada’s Climate Promise, also suggests that Canada would now be on track to meeting its 2020 targets if the best policies had been implemented in 2009, when Canada committed to action in Copenhagen.

The report focuses on policies that eliminated coal power, boosted renewable energy, and put a price on carbon, along with low-carbon transportation, energy efficiency, carbon capture and storage, and landfill and biogas. Ontario’s staged coal phase-out, together with the introduction of the Green Energy and Economy Act, is lauded as evidence that major changes can be made rapidly and that green economics can be fruitful; the burgeoning Ontario renewable energy industry has created more than 20,000 jobs so far. B.C.’s carbon tax is commended for its rigor and broad application, while Québec’s cap-and-trade system is favoured for its ability to link to international markets.

The report considers the application of successful policies to other jurisdictions in Canada, with each province given policy recommendations, and then rated according to their emissions reduction potential if the best policies were implemented. Saskatchewan, Alberta, and the Atlantic provinces have the most potential for improvement. Building on the Best is based on a technical report, Progress on Canadian Climate Policy, commissioned by DSF and prepared by Navius Research.

Ontario Taking a Leading Role in Provincial Climate Policy Initiatives

“Ontario: Tired of Waiting”, in Corporate Knights magazine summarizes the recent climate initiatives of Premier Kathleen Wynne. Most notably, Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia and  California issued a Joint Statement on Climate Change at the United Nations Conference of the Parties in Lima on December 9, 2014 (Joint Statement on Climate Change French version) which pledges to “collaborate on mid-term greenhouse gas emissions reductions to maintain momentum toward 2050 targets. This commitment reflects…a collective will to take action and establish these targets prior to the 2015 Conference of the Parties”.
On December 10, Ontario announced it would host a pan-American dialogue on long-term climate action at a 2015 Climate Summit of the Americas in Toronto, from July 7-9, 2015. This gathering is likely to be the venue to launch Ontario`s carbon pricing plan, pledged on January 14th; read “Ontario to move forward with carbon-pricing plan this spring” from the Globe and Mail.

B.C. Carbon Tax Receives International Praise

While Ontario hasn’t stated whether it will choose a cap and trade system or a carbon tax, British Columbia`s carbon tax has received a  recent flurry of praise. In a December 8 speech  leading up to the COP Lima meetings, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim stated that “all countries should commit to put a price on carbon” and singled out British Columbia’s system as one of the most “powerful” examples…”It’s worth noting that British Columbia’s GDP has outperformed the rest of Canada’s after introduction of the tax”.
Read also: a Globe and Mail editorial of December 13, “Why Stephen Harper should Love Carbon Taxes”; Alberta Federation of Labour President Gil McGowan in “Cutting Emissions needn`t kill Jobs, Says Oilsands Labour” in The Tyee (December 8). Even well-established conservative Preston Manning, now part of the Ecofiscal Commission, appears to endorse the concept in a November 19 Globe and Mail article: “How to Communicate a Good Idea: Carbon Pricing”. Last word goes to Larry Sommers, former Secretary of the Treasury in the U.S., in his January article in the Financial Times titled “Let this be the Year we Put a Proper Price on Carbon”.

    For more factual information about carbon taxes and how B.C. has achieved revenue neutrality, see Proof Positive: The Mechanics and Impacts of British Columbia’s Carbon Tax, released by Clean Energy Canada in December. A new, much more detailed study of the effect of a carbon tax, modelling with various revenue structures, was released by the state of Oregon in December.

Public Health Concerns Lead to Fracking Bans in Quebec, New Brunswick, New York; and what about Workers Health Concerns?

Quebec has had a moratorium on fracking since 2011, and in an interview with Radio-Canada in December, the Premier announced that the province would not allow further development. See Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard says No to Shale Gas and also in the Montreal Gazette, “Couillard Rules out Fracking”. The premier’s announcement came one day after a report from BAPE, Quebec’s environmental assessment agency, which cited risks to air and water quality, as well as potential increases in noise and light pollution. The report is available only in French, or see the Montreal Gazette summary in English. In New Brunswick, recently-elected Premier Brian Gallant announced a fracking moratorium at the end of the December legislative session – it will be voted on in February. In New York, a fracking moratorium was announced on the grounds that there were significant public health concerns about water contamination and air pollution, and insufficient scientific evidence to affirm the safety of fracking. “Citing Health Risks, Cuomo Bans Fracking in New York State” in the New York Times (Dec. 17). The article has a link to the report, A Public Health Review of High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing for Shale Gas
Development. Also of interest: a January report from Friends of the Earth in the U.K.: Making a Better Job of it: Why Renewables and Energy Efficiency are better for Jobs than Fracking (January 2015) reviews and critiques economic impact studies from the U.S. and U.K. and concludes that fracking job estimates have been overstated, and that the jobs created are likely to be short-term, with as yet unknown health risks for workers. On that note, the U.K.’s Trades Union Congress on January 20 released its TUC shale gas briefing: Fracking and workers’ health and safety issues, which briefly reviews some of the important research to date on the public safety issues, especially exposure to hydrocarbons and silica. It concludes that even with regulation in place, unions are needed to give workers the right to refuse unsafe work without the fear of penalty.

Ontario Energy Board Consultation on Energy East Pipeline

The Ontario Energy Board (OEB) released four preliminary assessments from its technical advisors on TransCanada’s proposed Energy East pipeline project on January 15, 2015. The report relating to socioeconomic aspects is by the Mowat Centre at the University of Toronto and concludes that “TransCanada’s estimated benefits are likely inflated while local benefits are expected to be small, particularly along the converted portion of the pipeline in northern Ontario”. The OEB Energy East Consultation webpage compiles all technical and background papers and submissions to date. The deadline to make a public submission is February 6, 2015; a link is available on the OEB website. Also see The Council of Canadians Energy East webpage.

Environmental Investigation of Oil Sands Tailings Ponds Unlikely, and Alberta GHG Emissions Regulations Stalled

The Commission on Environmental Co-operation (CEC) was created under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to resolve environmental disputes and to provide an outlet for the public’s environmental concerns. In 2010, Environmental Defense Canada and the Natural Resources Defense Council led a public submission which alleged that tailings ponds from Alberta’s oil sands were leaking four billion liters each year, and that the federal government was not enforcing its own Fisheries Act to prevent damage to the Athabasca River. In July, 2015, the CEC ruled that the complaint merited further investigation, but according to a CBC report of January 12, the government is attempting to stop any such investigation. See NAFTA scrutiny of oilsands tailings ponds opposed by Canada. The entire record of the complaint, with all documentation, is available at the CEC website. In the meantime, four Alberta regulations for greenhouse gas emissions, previously set to expire on December 31, have been extended till June, to allow “government to explore new approaches and partnership opportunities” for a new climate change policy framework in 2015. The regulations affected are: The Specified Gas Emitters Regulation (SGER), Specified Gas Reporting Regulation (SGRR), Administrative Penalty Regulation, and the Climate Change and Emissions Management Fund Administration Regulation. See the government’s news release (Dec. 19) and an explanation of the current framework.

Government Scientists Continue their Fight for their Right to Speak Out

The Professional Institue of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC) represents scientists employed in some 40 federal departments and agencies, including many directly involved with climate change. Having previously documented the culture of intimidation felt by their members in two reports, The Big Chill and Vanishing Science, the union is now addressing the issue at the bargaining table. Amongst the demands in the current round of bargaining: the right to speak about one’s work; the right to attend professional development meetings and conferences; and the development of a scientific integrity policy. The bargaining proposals have both an English version and French version.

Tools to Improve Sustainability at Universities

A Green Guide for Universities published by Sustainia of Sweden in December, provides suggestions, tools, and best practices for university building maintenance, purchasing, transportation, and student and employee engagement. The main focus of Chapter 8, Employee and Student Engagement, is to urge the establishment of a sustainability office in each university. Case studies are presented from Yale, Cambridge, Peking, and Copenhagen University. Many Canadian universities have well-established Sustainability offices, including: Queen’s; University of Toronto; University of British Columbia; Universite Laval. The 2014 Annual STARS Review by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education also presents case studies of sustainability at universities. The 2014 report features 105 higher education institutions, mainly from the United States, several from Canada, and some pilot international participants. The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) rates institutions on a host of practices, including Human Resources practices such as the presence of sustainability information in professional development courses and new employee orientation, commuting and telecommuting policies, etc.

Obama Administration Issues New Methane Emissions Standards for the U.S.

A White House Fact Sheet, released on January 14, announces a new goal to cut methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 40 – 45% from 2012 levels by 2025. In general, reaction from environmental groups has been tepid, citing the need to address existing operations, and to rely more on regulation and less on voluntary industry action. Read “Climate Hawks aren’t impressed with Obama’s Methane Plan” in Mother Jones (Jan. 20) for a summary of reactions.

California’s New Climate Change Initiative

Re-elected Governor Jerry Brown used his inaugural speech in January to lay out three climate-related goals for 2030: Increase the proportion of electricity sourced from renewables to 50%; reduce petroleum use in cars and trucks by 50%; and double the energy efficiency of existing buildings in the state. Calling for “active collaboration at every stage with our scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, businesses and officials at all levels”, he envisioned changes such as more distributed power, expanded rooftop solar, micro-grids, and millions of electric and low-carbon vehicles. On January 1, the state’s cap and trade system expanded to include oil and gas refineries and distribution, and on January 5, a groundbreaking ceremony was held to launch the controversial high-speed rail line between San Francisco and Los Angeles, due for completion in 2028. Read the Legal Planet analysis.

Study Examines “High Road”, Unionized Jobs in the California Solar Industry

A study released on November 10 by the University of California at Berkeley examines the environmental and economic impact of a boom in utility-scale solar electricity generation in California since 2010.

The report describes the overall economic and policy situation, then calculates the new construction, maintenance, and operations jobs created, plus the upstream and downstream jobs. It estimates the income and health and pension benefits of these new construction and plant operations jobs, most of which are unionized.

In California, the union contracts have required payments into apprenticeship training programs; the study calculates the new monies that have been generated for apprenticeship programs, and asserts that the boom in utility-scale solar construction has set in motion a related boom in apprenticeship and other forms of training for electricians, operating engineers, ironworkers, carpenters, millwrights, piledrivers, and laborers. The author estimates how apprenticeship affects lifetime earnings- using the example of electrical apprentices, who are estimated to see a lifetime income approximately $1 million higher than that of workers without similar training.

Finally, the report describes the policy environment that has facilitated this solar boom, and makes recommendations for the future. The author, Peter Philips, from the University of Utah, is currently a Visiting Scholar at the UC Berkeley Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, at the Donald Vial Center on Employment in the Green Economy.

Literature Review of Job Creation Impact of Energy Efficiency Investments

A study released by the U.K. Energy Research Centre (UKERC) on November 4 presents an analytical literature review of fifty studies published since 2000 on the relationship between green energy investment and job creation in the U.S., Europe and China. The report outlines the key concepts and modelling methodologies, and provides a comparative analysis of the job impact results of the studies surveyed.

Overall, the authors found that renewable energy and energy efficiency create up to ten times more jobs per unit of electricity generated or saved than fossil fuels. However, they conclude that the job creation issue is complex and is often wrongly focussed on short-term benefits. “The proper domain for the debate about the long-term role of renewable energy and energy efficiency is the wider framework of energy and environmental policy, not a narrow analysis of green job impacts.”

 LINKS

Low Carbon Jobs: The Evidence for Net Job Creation from Policy Support for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy is available from the Energy Research Centre website.

Canadian Environmental Education: Post Secondary Guides, Context, and New Initiatives for Public Outreach

Alternatives Journal in October published a special issue addressing environmental education. The fifteenth annual Environmental Education Guide helps students heading to postsecondary education to identify and compare the 700 interdisciplinary programs available in 120 Canadian universities and community colleges.

Three accompanying articles emphasize the importance of interdisciplinary studies: “Academic Evolution: Innovation knows no Boundaries”, profiles the work of Dr. James Orbinski, who leads research on global health and climate change as the Research Chair in Global Health at the Balsillie School of International Affairs at the University of Waterloo, Ontario, and Tim Kruger, who is the Coordinator of the Geoengineering Program at the Martin Oxford School at University of Oxford, and one of the authors of the Oxford Principles.

A quote from Kruger sums up the point of the article: “Climate change presents systems problems, involving multiple, complex mechanisms…What is left now, are those problems which are not amenable to being solved by a single disciplinary approach.” “The Genius of the Generalist”, describes the educational paths of three graduate students- two of whom have Masters of Environmental Studies degrees from York University in Toronto and “Meet 6 Environmental Grads” profiles careers after graduation from various environmental programmes in Canada, and one in Freiberg, Germany.

For students heading for an MBA, Corporate Knights magazine released its annual guide to Sustainable MBA programs around the world in October. As in past years, York University’s Schulich School of Business ranked first, followed closely by the Sauder School of Business at University of British Columbia.

And two new online initiatives to promote climate change literacy and climate justice emerged from British Columbia in October. The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and the B.C. Teachers’ Federation jointly created free classroom-ready materials designed for students in grades 8 to 12. Eight modules explore climate justice within the context of B.C.’s communities, history, economy and ecology. On October 28th the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions at the University of Victoria, launched “B.C Climate Impacts & Adaptation”, an  interactive online module free to anyone interested in expanding their climate literacy. At the same time, PICS updated the content of the educational section of their website, which houses other modules and mini-lessons.

LINKS
 
 

A New Commission with a Prescription of “Ecofiscal” Policies for Canada

Canada’s Ecofiscal Commission was launched on November 4, with the release of a report which makes the economic case for a new suite of Canadian policies at the municipal, provincial and national level.

“Ecofiscal policies correct market signals to encourage the economic activities we want (job creation, investment, and innovation), while discouraging those we don’t (greenhouse gas emissions and pollution of our land, air, and water). They use prices to help companies and individuals make decisions that take the true value of our environmental assets into account.” The Commission describes itself as independent, and representative of all political viewpoints; this manifests itself in the membership, which includes prominent former politicians Jean Charest, Bob Rae, Preston Manning, Sheila Watt-Cloutier, and Mike Harcourt. It is housed at McGill University, and led by Professor Chris Ragan of the McGill University Department of Economics (formerly a special adviser to the Bank of Canada).

LINKS
View the

 
Smart, Practical, Possible: Canadian Options for Greater Economic and Environmental Prosperity, Inaugural Report of  the EcoFiscal Commission (English Version / French Version).
 
Chris Ragan is interviewed by Tyler Hamilton of Corporate Knights magazine.

 

Corporate Leaders Sign on to an Open Letter for More Climate Change Leadership, Carbon Pricing in Canada

In an open letter to Canada’s federal and provincial political leaders, including Prime Minister Harper, the Clean 50 states that Canada needs to put a higher priority on climate change action, and specifically, “We believe that one solution is to develop a well thought out framework that includes setting a price on carbon at some specific date in the future, that would reduce other taxes, and provide an incentive for businesses and individuals to take steps to reduce their use of carbon.” The Clean 50 is a group founded and managed by Delta Management, a corporate search firm specializing in green jobs; it includes sustainability professionals from corporate Canada, as well as academics and individuals. See the website and their Open Letter

Superlatives for the U.S.-China Agreement on Climate Change, and what it Means for Canada

Media superlatives signal the importance of the surprising climate change announcement by the U.S. and China on November 11. President Obama pledged that the U.S. will emit 26 to 28 percent less carbon in 2025 than it did in 2005, and will double the pace of reduction it had previously targeted for the period from 2005 to 2020. China’s President Xi Jinping pledged to reach peak carbon emissions by 2030, if not sooner, and that clean energy sources would account for 20 percent of China’s total energy production by 2030.

See the White House press release and the White House Fact Sheet. For a summary of U.S. reactions, see the Blue Green Alliance at “What Leaders are Saying about the Historic Agreement”.

What is the impact in Canada? A Globe and Mail article stated that the agreement would put pressure on Prime Minister Harper to act on climate change, yet columnist Jeffrey Simpson wrote, “Leadership means a willingness to spend political capital on an issue, and in Canada’s case, there is no such leadership at the top. That this absence would suddenly shift as a result of a China-U.S. understanding is improbable in the extreme”.

Alberta’s new premier Jim Prentice announced that the province will “stiffen” its regulations for fossil fuel extraction. “It’s the desire of Alberta to be participatory in any sort of international agreement that we can arrive at, modeled on what the United States and China have been able to achieve”. When the U.S. – China agreement was announced, Ontario’s Kathleen Wynne, accompanied by green business leaders, had just returned from a trade mission to China.

According to the University of Victoria PICS Newscan, Guelph’s Canadian Solar Solutions signed a $70-million deal to build solar energy plants in China, and China Energy Conservation and Environmental Protection Group signed an agreement for future collaboration.  

Climate Change Momentum Continues at the G20 Summit in Brisbane

Despite the efforts of Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott to keep it off the agenda, pressure to address climate change was heaped on the G20 group, notably  by the climate agreement signed by the U.S. and China. Pope Francis sent  a letter to Prime Minister Abbott that admonished “unbridled” consumerism, environmental degradation, and their capacity to undermine global economic stability. See “U.S., EU Override Australia to put Climate Change on G20 Agenda” from Reuters and “Pope Francis to World Leaders: Consumerism Represents ‘Constant Assault’ on the Environment” from ClimateProgress.

The final communiqué expressed strong support for the Green Climate Fund. Canada announced on November 20 that it would contribute $300 million to the Green Climate Fund. See the government press release and government backgrounder, and see also “Green Climate Fund in the Spotlight at G20 Leaders’ Meet” from the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development.

Ontario and Quebec sign Agreements on Electricity Trade and Climate Change

On November 21, Ontario and Québec announced a number of agreements to “strengthen Ontario and Québec’s partnership to build up Central Canada’s economy, create jobs and make a difference in people’s lives”. These agreements specifically focused on electricity trade, climate change (including carbon pricing), infrastructure investments, the Energy East pipeline, interprovincial trade, and the Francophonie.

Relating to Energy East, Ontario affirmed Québec’s concerns and insistence that climate change is considered by the NEB and that the unfair burden of risk born by those nearby the converted aging gas pipelines is addressed.

Read Ontario’s press release and Ontario’s backgrounder, and see CBC coverage in “Ontario, Québec sign deals on Electricity, Climate Change”. According to the Globe and Mail, federal and Alberta government ministers will be travelling to Quebec soon to press the case for Energy East. Read reaction to the Ontario-Quebec agreement by Clare Demerse at Clean Energy Canada.

Analysis of the Canada – EU Trade Agreement

The Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) between the EU and Canada was announced as a “done deal” in Ottawa on September 26, despite the fact that the text had never been made public till that time.

The agreement abolishes almost all tariffs and reduces many non-tariff barriers, but most controversial is the chapter on investment protection, which includes Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions. The ISDS mechanism gives foreign corporations the ability to sue Canada or a province, if the companies allege that domestic health or environmental policies and regulations interfere with their right to make a profit.

The Council of Canadians has been a vocal opponent of CETA because of these ISDS provisions and released a new book in November. Trading away Democracy (co-published by a number of other organizations, including Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Canadian Union of Public Employees, European Federation of Public Service Unions, Friends of the Earth Europe).
The International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development in Geneva has published a detailed review which includes a summary of the Environment and Labour chapters of the CETA . The article points out a departure from past trade agreements such as NAFTA: disputes under the Environment or Labour chapters cannot be initiated by civil society, but only by a government- to -government mechanism specifically defined in each chapter. See “Unpacking the EU Canada Free Trade Deal” in Bridges (Nov. 3).

Also see the Government of Canada website relating to CETA, including a link to the text of the agreement (English version / French version).

Grid Parity for Solar and Wind Energy

According to the Global Wind Energy Outlook published by the Global Wind Energy Council and Greenpeace International, wind power alone could supply as much as 19 percent of global electricity needs by 2030, and 30% by 2050, given policy support. The economics of wind and solar production are leading the way: see an overview of recent studies relating to grid parity of solar and wind energy, including the October report by Deutsche Bank analyst Vishal Shah, and a New York Times article. The Deutsche Bank report found that solar has already reached grid parity in the ten states that represent 90 % of U.S. solar electricity production. Wind continues to face community opposition, but a Health Canada study in November concludes that there is no evidence of a causal relationship between exposure to wind turbine noise and self-reported medical illnesses and health conditions. See the Health Canada study.

Pipeline News: Report Questions Economic Benefit of Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Project ahead of Mass Arrests

A report released by Simon Fraser University and The Goodman Group Ltd. on November 10th asserts that pipeline company Kinder Morgan has exaggerated the number of jobs to be created by its Trans Mountain Expansion Project and drastically underestimated the potential cost of spills. 

While the company holds that the project will support 36,000 person-years of work for British Columbians, with an additional 2000 jobs in spin-offs, the Goodman Group report estimates a maximum of 12,000 person-years during the construction period – amounting to about 4000 jobs per year. Further, revenues for the province may also be lower than claimed. The Goodman report was released just after Kinder Morgan was granted an injunction on November 14th against a group of residents protesting the Trans Mountain project on Burnaby Mountain. 53 protestors have been arrested as of November 22nd.

Read the Goodman report, Economic Costs and Benefits of the Trans Mountain Expansion Project (TMX) for B.C. and Metro Vancouver. Read “Economists Question Projected Value of Trans Mountain’s Pipeline” from The Globe and Mail. For information about the protests, see “Kinder Morgan Slaps Burnaby Residents with Multi-Million-Dollar Lawsuit” from the Vancouver Observer, and “Kinder Morgan Protests: More Protesters are Arrested as Test Drilling Starts” from the CBC.

Pipeline News: Energy East Application filed at NEB; Quebec Response

On October 30th, Trans Canada filed a formal application for its Energy East pipeline project from the National Energy Board (NEB). See the NEB website for information about the Energy East application and the National Energy Board process, including how to participate, or see the CBC website for “TransCanada Formally Applies to NEB for Energy East Pipeline Approval”.

TransCanada claims the project will directly or indirectly create 14,000 jobs, and help create $36 billion worth of economic activity, basing its projections on a new Conference Board of Canada report, which updates a previous report by Deloitte consultants. See Energy East Pipeline Project: Understanding the Economic Benefits for Canada and its RegionsSee also an “Economic Backgrounder” from Trans Canada.

 On November 6th, the Québec National Assembly unanimously passed a resolution asserting provincial jurisdiction to conduct its own environmental assessment and casting a vote of non-confidence in the NEB process. The resolution condemned the NEB’s exclusion of climate impacts from the factors it considers and the failure of the federal government to adopt national emissions regulations for oil and gas. Québec’s Minister of Natural Resources said the province will analyze potential economic and environmental impacts and the threat to its wintertime natural gas supply in consultation with the public, and will appear before the NEB with its findings. Find the resolution in the legislative Votes and Proceedings for Nov. 6 at page 471, and the Quebec press release. See reaction to the resolution from the Pembina Institute, emphasizing climate impacts. The Québec Minister of Environment also sent a letter to Trans Canada on November 18th which  outlined seven project conditions, including assurance the province will benefit economically and adequate involvement of the public and First Nations in decision-making. Read the conditions in “Environment Minister sets Conditions for TransCanada in Quebec”.

How Should Canada Prepare for Climate Migrants?

As part of its Climate Justice program, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives – B.C. Office released a report in November, asking: “given Canada’s historical and ongoing contribution to global warming, what is our collective obligation to people fleeing regions most affected by climate change, and how prepared are we to meet these obligations?” Researchers found serious gaps in current policies and thinking around climate migration, and recommend legislative reform to create a new immigration class of “climate migrants”, with targets and programs to ensure Canada absorbs its fair share of those migrants. Recognizing that most climate migrants will remain in developing countries, Canada should also increase its support to those countries which will bear the brunt of climate displacement. Read Preparing B.C. for Climate Migration.

 

Canada’s Forests, Climate Change, and the Roles of Government and Professionals

On September 24, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources released the 2014 edition of State of Canada’s Forests, which includes “sustainability indicators” which highlight key social, economic and environmental data such as GhG emissions, contribution to GDP, and labour force growth and wage levels.

In a table showing “Benefits to the Canadian Economy”, the forest sector ranks as providing 9.34 jobs per million dollars of value added; in comparison, the energy sector provides 1.94 jobs (see http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/forests/report/economy/16517). The federal government report strikes an optimistic and positive note, highlighting government’s role in providing financial incentives through the Investments in Forest Industry Transformation program, the Expanding Market Opportunities program and the Forest Innovation program.

forestsIn contrast, a September report from the Intact Forest Landscapes Initiative states that Canada has led the world in forest loss from deforestration since 2000 (half of such forest loss occurred in just three countries: Canada, Russia and Brazil). According to Global Forest Watch Canada, the major causes of Canada’s forest loss are massive increases in oil sands and shale gas developments, as well as logging and road building. The Intact Forest project is produced by the Global Forest Watch Network, an international collaboration that includes Greenpeace, University of Maryland, and World Resources Institute among others, and uses satellite imagery technology to determine the location and extent of the world’s last large undisturbed forests.

In British Columbia, four professional associations related to the forestry industry released an “unprecedented” joint statement in July, which states, “Our members have crucial roles to play in both climate change mitigation and adaptation; their knowledge, expertise and professionalism are key parts of the solution. But they also have important professional and ethical responsibilities related to the changing climate. Professional associations have an obligation to define those responsibilities and to provide the training and structures that will allow members to meet their responsibilities to their clients and to the public”. The statement also calls on government to show leadership, and calls for a review of a range of provincial laws in light of climate change. Signatories to the joint statement are: the Association of BC Forest Professionals (ABCFP), the Association of Professional Biology (APB), the College of Applied Biology (CAB), and the Planning Institute of BC (PIBC).

LINKS:

State of Canada’s Forests 2014 is available, with accompanying infographics and summaries at: http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/forests/report/16496 (English version), and http://www.rncan.gc.ca/forets/rapport/16497 (French version)

Intact Forest Landscapes is at: http://intactforests.org/; Global Forest Watch Canada is at: http://www.globalforestwatch.ca/

Professional Associations of B.C. Joint Statement is at: http://www.abcfp.ca/about_us/media_centre/documents/Pro_Leadership_in_a_Changing_Climate-Joint_Statement_20140708.pdf; accompanying 1-page background document is at: http://www.abcfp.ca/about_us/media_centre/documents/Joint_Statement_on_Climate_Change-Backgrounder_20140708.pdf. The Association of B.C. Forest Professionals released their own position paper in January 2014 at: http://www.abcfp.ca/publications_forms/publications/documents/ABCFP_Climate_Change-Position_Paper_2014.pdf

Electric Vehicles Good for Ontario Economy

According to a new report from the non-profit Windfall Centre, Ontario’s economy would enjoy major economic benefits from increased electric vehicles (EV’s), including considerable energy savings, government revenue, and thousands of new skilled, well-paid jobs in manufacturing, research, business and professional services, and infrastructure development. 

According to Windfall, these benefits would outweigh losses in other sectors, including oil and gas and Ontario’s sagging gasoline vehicle manufacturing sector. The report estimates that if 10% of Ontario’s passenger vehicles were to be electric by windfall2025, the province’s total income would increase by more than $3.6 billion with an added 34,000 person years of work. 

The importance of such a conversion is underlined in a September report from the Partnership on Sustainable Low Carbon Transport. “Without transport contributing in a significant manner to the mitigation of climate change it will not be possible to shift to a global stabilization pathway that can keep warming below 2 Degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels”.  

California’s Governor Jerry Brown also cast his vote for EV’s in September with S.B. 1275, The Charge Ahead California Initiative, to get 1 million EV’s driving in the state by 2020. Governor Brown’s decision was celebrated by the BlueGreen Alliance, who noted that most EV’s in California are union-made in the U.S. 

LINKS: 

The Economic Impact of Electric Vehicle Adoption in Ontario is available at: http://www.windfallcentre.ca/drive-electric/studies/ev-adoption/report/

For more about electric vehicles, see “Plugged in: Electric Vehicles Coming to Canada in 2015” from the Globe and Mail at: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-drive/culture/technology/plugged-in-electric-vehicles-coming-to-canada-in-2015/article20592549/, or follow the Electric Vehicle News Blog at FleetCarma at: http://www.fleetcarma.com/category/electric-vehicle-news/ 

Land Transport’s Contribution to a 2°C Target is at: http://www.slocat.net/transporttwodegree   

“The Effort to Get One Million Electric Vehicles on California’s Roadways Just Got A Jumpstart” from BlueGreen Alliance is at: http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/blog/the-effort-to-get-one-million-electric-vehicles-on-californias-roadways-just-got-a-jumpstart

 

Federal Government Scientists: an Open Letter in their Support, and an Injunction for Energy East Based on their Concerns

The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC), along with the Union of Concerned Scientists, marked the Government of Canada’s Science and Technology week with an advertising campaign which included an open letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

muzzle_scientists_canada_report_535_692The letter states: “Canada’s leadership in basic research, environmental, health and other public science is in jeopardy…We urge you to restore government science funding and the freedom and opportunities to communicate these findings internationally”. The letter was signed by more than 800 scientists from 32 countries, from institutions such as Harvard Medical School in the U.S. and the Max Planck Institute in Germany. PIPSC, which represents scientists employed by the federal government, has published earlier surveys of its members to document their perceptions of being “muzzled”; a related advocacy group, Evidence for Democracy, released its own report on October 8, compiling and ranking the communications policies of federal government departments.

The world has seen this before, as described in a blog by the Union for Concerned Scientists, and coincidentally, by the New York Times obituary on October 19, 2014 for Rick Pitz. Pitz was a U.S. whistleblower who exposed the subtle manipulation of scientific reports on climate change in the Bush administration between 2002 and 2003.

Ignoring the opinions of federal government scientists has its perils. On September 23, the Quebec Superior Court issued a temporary injunction to stop TransCanada’s exploratory drilling for the Energy East pipeline. Part of the reason for the injunction: environmental groups provided internal documents showing that scientists from the federal department of Fisheries and Oceans had been raising concerns for months about the impact of the exploratory drilling on the habitat of threatened St. Lawrence beluga whales, and of the proposed oil terminal that would be built to service 250-metre long supertankers. The court ruled that, by ignoring the scientists’ concerns, Quebec’s Minister of the Environment erred in issuing a permit for the exploratory work.

LINKS:

PIPSC Press release, with a link to the Open Letter, is at: http://www.pipsc.ca/portal/page/portal/website/news/newsreleases/news/21102014

Can Scientists Speak? Grading Communication Policies For Federal Government Scientists is at: https://evidencefordemocracy.ca/canscientistsspeak, with a blog which summarizes Canadian and U.S. experience at the Union of Concerned Scientists at: http://blog.ucsusa.org/want-to-talk-to-a-scientist-in-canada-dont-look-to-the-federal-government-678

See the CBC report at:http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/foreign-scientists-call-on-stephen-harper-to-restore-science-funding-freedom-1.2806571 for links to previous stories in this ongoing issue.

Rick Pitz obituary in the New York Times (Oct. 19, 2014) is at: http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/10/19/a-passing-rick-piltz-a-bush-era-whistleblower/?_php=true&_type=blogs&module=Search&mabReward=relbias%3Ar&_r=0, and the related expose of Philip A. Cooney, “Bush Aide Softened Greenhouse Gas Links to Global Warming” in the New York Times (June 8, 2005) at: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/08/politics/08climate.html?emc=eta1

“TransCanada work on St. Lawrence port Suspended by Quebec Court Order” on the CBC website (September 23) at: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/transcanada-work-on-st-lawrence-port-suspended-by-quebec-court-order-1.2775613

Productivity Loss due to Workplace Heat Stress: an Issue for North America, too

In an article appearing in Our World, a publication of the United Nations University, author Tord Kjellstrom argues that economists need to consider the impact of the physiological limits of people exposed to ambient heat when they work.

His article reviews the literature to date on this issue, and contends that climate change is resulting in huge financial losses because of reduced labour productivity: estimated in 2012 as approximately US$2 trillion globally by 2030. High temperatures are already having an impact in tropical and sub-tropical countries, as well as the southern U.S. and Europe, and Australia.

How relevant is this to North America? In 2014, as part of the Risky Business project, the American Climate Prospectus included a chapter on labour productivity, which projected that heat-related losses of labour productivity in 2050 and 2090 in the United States would be the largest actual economic cost of climate change – amounting to approximately 0.2 percent of GDP in 2050. And in October 2014, an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that “By 2050, many US cities may experience more frequent extreme heat days. For example, New York and Milwaukee may have 3 times their current average number of days hotter than 32°C (90°F)…The adverse health aspects related to climate change may include heat-related disorders, such as heat stress and economic consequences of reduced work capacity”. The article continues to list many other adverse health outcomes and the implications for physicians. Wor

LINKS:

“Productivity Losses Ignored in Economic Analysis of Climate Change” in Our World (September 23, 2014) at: http://ourworld.unu.edu/en/productivity-losses-ignored-in-economic-analysis-of-climate-change

American Climate Prospectus: Economic Risks in the United States (June, updated August 2014) at: http://rhg.com/reports/climate-prospectus

“Climate Change Challenges and Opportunities for Global Health” in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) at: http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1909928

For more, see the Hothaps website at: http://www.climatechip.org/. Hothaps = High Occupational Temperature: Health and Productivity Suppression, an international research program which studies “the effects of heat exposure on working people (including gender aspects and effects on pregnant women and on children), to quantify climate change-related increases in workplace heat exposures and the impact this will have on human health and productivity”.

Labour Should Lead with a Worker-Friendly Climate Plan

Drawing on American economic and labour policy during World War II, authors Jeremy Brecher, Ron Blackwell and Joe Uehlein envision what climate policy could look like with labour in the lead, in an article in the September 2014 issue of New Labor Forum.

The authors acknowledge that unions are caught between the immediate interests of their members, many of whom work in industries vulnerable to new climate regulations, and long-term social, economic, and ecological wellbeing. As a result, labour has at times remained “aloof” to the climate movement, but the authors advocate that the labour movement should take the initiative to develop its own government-led climate plan – one that bridges the divide between work and environment, reverses austerity, raises wages, and offers full employment, job security, and transition training.

As during wartime, the authors contend, climate change demands ramped up production and expansion in innovative sectors. The government should take the lead in financing the low-carbon transition during its initial, more expensive stages, thereby encouraging private investment by creating stable green markets. Citizens should be supported during the transformation through the establishment of a welfare state that diverts carbon tax revenues to workers and the unemployed, provides education and training, and recruits and distributes workers to where they are most needed.

LINKS:

“If Not Now, When? A Labor Movement Plan to Address Climate Change” in New Labor Forum (v.23, #3) is at: http://nlf.sagepub.com/content/23/3/40.full.pdf+html

New York Climate Summit: Labour Marches and Business Makes Pledges

The New York Times Editorial Board pronounced its verdict on the U.N. Climate Summit – focussing on the People’s March rather than the official meetings, and noting “a palpable conviction that tackling climate change could be an opportunity, and not a burden”.

The article notes that cooperation between the U.S. and China could create the conditions for a breakthrough agreement in 2015, “But what might really do the trick – if Climate Week is any guide – is the emergence of a growing bottom-up movement for change”. In an article in Truthout, Abby Scher summarizes the support for the People’s March by national unions in the U.S., including Service Employees (SEIU) and Communication Workers of America, as well as the New York state and city unions and the community-labour alliances which have taken root in New York since Hurricane Sandy.

The business community made headlines with its reports and announcements over the Climate Summit week: a Global Investor Statement by nearly 350 global institutional investors representing over $24 trillion in assets, calling for stable, reliable and economically meaningful carbon pricing and a phase-out of fossil fuels; the Carbon Tracker Initiative published a report for investors to measure their risk exposure and start directing capital away from high cost, high carbon projects; the new We Mean Business coalition released The Climate has Changed report; and iconic companies like Kellogg’s, Nestle, Apple, and IKEA and others released their own statements supporting climate change action.

CalPERS, the largest public pension fund in the U.S., pledged to measure and publicly disclose the carbon footprint of its $300 billion investment portfolio, and the California State Teachers Retirement System announced that it will increase its clean energy and technology investments from $1.4 billion to $3.7 billion over the next five years. And according to a New York Times summary of business initiatives: “The major Indonesian palm oil processors, including Cargill, issued a separate declaration on Tuesday pledging a crackdown on deforestation, and asking the Indonesian government to adopt stronger laws. Forest Heroes, an environmental group, called the declaration “a watershed moment in the history of both Indonesia and global agriculture. We should not underestimate the significance of what is happening”.

And for an interesting, more neutral point of view: consider the special report Climate Protection as a World Citizen Movement, presented to the German Federal Government on the occasion of the UN Climate Summit in New York. The German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU) recommends a dual strategy for international climate policy: governments should negotiate the global phasing-out of fossil CO2 emissions at the Paris meetings in 2015, while civil society initiatives, including those of trade unions and religious organizations, should be supported and encouraged.

LINKS:

“A Group Shout on Climate Change” Editorial in the New York Times (September 27) is at: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/28/opinion/sunday/a-group-shout-on-climate-change.html?emc=edit_th_20140928&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=67440933&_r=0. In contrast, see also “Moving Forward after the People’s Climate March” in Canadian Dimension at: https://canadiandimension.com/articles/view/moving-forward-after-the-peoples-climate-march

“At Least Some Unions Step Up for Big Climate March!” by Abby Scher in Truthout at: http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/26137-at-least-some-unions-step-up-for-big-climate-march, with a list of the unions who officially endorsed the People March at: http://peoplesclimate.org/organizedlabor/. See also the BlueGreen Alliance statement at: http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/news/latest/members-of-labor-environmental-partnership-front-and-center-in-peoples-climate-march

For Business documents, see Global Investor Statement is at: http://investorsonclimatechange.org/; Carbon Supply Cost Curves: Evaluating Financial Risk to Oil Capital Expenditures is at the Carbon Tracker Initiative at: http://www.carbontracker.org/report/carbon-supply-cost-curves-evaluating-financial-risk-to-oil-capital-expenditures/; We Mean Business website is at: http://www.wemeanbusinesscoalition.org/, with The Climate has Changed at: http://www.wemeanbusinesscoalition.org/stories. CalPERS statement is at: http://www.calpers.ca.gov/index.jsp?bc=/about/newsroom/news/montreal-carbon-pledge.xml; California Teachers Retirement System press release is at: http://www.calstrs.com/news-release/calstrs-commits-increase-clean-energy-and-technology-investments; “Companies take the Baton in Climate Change Efforts” in the New York Times at: http://mobile.nytimes.com/2014/09/24/business/energy-environment/passing-the-baton-in-climate-change-efforts.html?_r=3

Climate Protection as a World Citizen Movement by the German Advisory Council on Global Change is at: http://www.wbgu.de/fileadmin/templates/dateien/veroeffentlichungen/sondergutachten/sn2014/wbgu_sg2014_en.pdf

Climate Change is the Theme of ILO World Day for Decent Work, and CLC Announces a Climate Change Week of Action

According to the Director of the International Labour Organization (ILO), “To mark this year’s World Day for Decent Work, trade unions have chosen the theme of climate change, urging governments to move now to create prosperity for all on a sustainable planet”. “There is a growing consensus that climate change and decent work for all are the two defining challenges of the 21st century”. The Canadian Labour Congress also marked the day, and, referring to the Report of Canada’s Commissioner of the Environment, made this statement: “In keeping with the Climate Justice theme for World Day for Decent Work, the CLC used this report to invigorate the preparations for its planned national climate change week of action this December, set to coincide with the United Nations global climate change meeting (COP 20) in Lima, Peru, from December 1 to 12, 2014”.

LINKS:

ILO Director’s blog is at: http://iloblog.org/2014/10/08/there-are-no-jobs-on-a-dead-planet/

CLC announcement of Climate Change Week of Action is at: http://www.canadianlabour.ca/news-room/statements/october-7-2014-world-day-decent-work

Canada will miss 2020 Copenhagen Emissions Target, says Environment Commissioner

The Report from the Canadian Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development states that, in addition to failing to develop a national framework, enact any legislation that targets climate change, or release long-awaited oil and gas regulations, Canada’s tar sands monitoring is inadequate, neglects cumulative impacts, and lacks a plan beyond next year. The tar sands are Canada’s fastest growing source of emissions. Commissioner Gelfand also highlighted uncertainty surrounding which projects are subject to an environmental assessment and inadequate public and aboriginal consultation following the introduction of Bill-C45 in 2012, which profoundly altered environmental legislation in Canada. She also noted the dire need to improve planning in the Arctic, as shipping increases in the absence of updated navigation information or emergency response strategies.

Read the 2014 Fall Report of Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development at: http://www.oag-bvg.gc.ca/internet/English/parl_cesd_201410_e_39845.html (English), and http://www.oag-bvg.gc.ca/internet/Francais/parl_cesd_201410_f_39845.html (French). The Commissioner appeared before the House of Commons Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development to discuss her report on October 8; see the transcript at:
http://www.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?DocId=6723122&Language=e&Mode=1&Parl=41&Ses=2(English), and http://www.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?DocId=6723122&Mode=1&Parl=41&Ses=2&Language=F (French). See “Highlights of the Environment Commissioner’s Fall Report” from the CBC at: http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/highlights-of-environment-commissioner-s-fall-report-1.2790164.

For reaction see “Commissioner’s report shows Canada must do more for environment” from the David Suzuki Foundation at: http://www.davidsuzuki.org/blogs/science-matters/2014/10/commissioners-report-shows-canada-must-do-more-for-environment/; “Treading Water on Climate Change: Sierra reacts to Environment Commissioner’s Report” from Sierra Club Canada at: http://www.sierraclub.ca/en/report-fail; and “No Overall Vision:” Scathing New Audit from Environment Commissioner Exposes Canada’s Utter Climate Failure” from Desmog Canada at: http://www.desmog.ca/2014/10/07/no-overall-vision-scathing-new-audit-environment-commissioner-exposes-canada-s-utter-climate-failure.

Ontario is the First Canadian Province to Issue Green Bonds

In early October, Ontario’s sale of green bonds attracted orders of almost $2.4 billion from investors around the world.

The funds will be used to finance clean transportation; energy efficiency and conservation; clean energy and technology; forestry, agriculture and land management; and climate adaption and resilience. Toronto’s Eglinton Crosstown LRT will be the first project to receive funding. Read the news release from the Government of Ontario at: http://news.ontario.ca/mof/en/2014/10/strong-demand-for-ontarios-first-green-bond.html. See also “Ontario goes green with the latest bond sale” from the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions at: http://pics.uvic.ca/news/news-scan/pics-climate-news-scan-september-25-2014#solutions.

For an financial explanation of green bonds, see the TD Economics report Green Bonds: Victory Bonds for the Environment (November 2013), at: http://www.td.com/document/PDF/economics/special/GreenBonds_Canada.pdf. According to a September report released by UNEP, World Bank and others, green bonds are on the rise worldwide and are “integral” to financing the global low-carbon transition. Read Financial Institutions Taking Action on Climate Change at: http://investorsonclimatechange.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/FinancialInstitutionsTakingActionOnClimateChange_Final.pdf.

Bloomberg estimates that the global green bond market will reach US$40 billion by the end of the year, three times more than 2013.

B.C. LNG Setor: New Legislation and a New Report

In the week of October 20, British Columbia introduced the Greenhouse Gas Industrial Reporting and Control Act and the Liquefied Natural Gas Income Tax Act. The former requires liquefied natural gas plants to purchase carbon offsets and punishes those who fail to limit their carbon emissions to 0.16 tonnes per tonne of LNG – the strictest standards in the world, according to B.C. Environment Minister Mary Polak.

However, Merran Smith of Clean Energy Canada criticized the Act for focussing exclusively on port facilities, at the end of the supply chain. Matt Horne of the Pembina Institute asserted that 70% of the industry’s emissions would be released before reaching the ports. See “B.C.’s New LNG Emissions Regulations A Good Start, But Not Enough” from Desmog Canada at: http://www.desmog.ca/2014/10/22/bc-new-lng-emissions-regulations-good-start-but-not-enough, and Pembina’s comments at: http://www.pembina.org/media-release/pembina-reacts-to-tabling-of-bc-lng-carbon-pollution-legislation.

The new tax legislation imposes a 3.5% rate on operating income, half the amount B.C. had initially planned. Read the government press release at: http://www.newsroom.gov.bc.ca/2014/10/bc-to-have-worlds-cleanest-lng-facilities.html, and for details on the Act, see the government’s website at: http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/topic.page?id=75BD4BF2B6B5493FB8A36DB05EBA764D. Jack Mintz, from the University of Calgary, states: “the B.C. shale gas royalty is one of the most distortionary systems developed in industrialized countries”.

For his financial and policy critique, see “Jack M. Mintz: Why B.C.’s LNG tax policy sets a bad precedent” in the Financial Post at: http://business.financialpost.com/2014/10/22/jack-m-mintz-why-b-c-s-lng-tax-policy-helps-neither-the-province-nor-the-industry/. For a broader view, see Marc Lee’s reaction in “A B.C. Framework for LNG, part 2: The LNG income tax” at Rabble.ca at: http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/policynote/2014/10/bc-framework-lng-part-2-lng-income-tax.

And the last word: Pembina will release a new report on October 27th, LNG and Climate Change: The Global Context.

Energy Efficiency in Canadian Industrial Sectors

On October 16, the Council of Canadian Academies released a report commissioned by Industry Canada, based on a survey of more than 1,000 Canadian firms. It provides an overview of how Canadian businesses have adapted to rising and increasingly volatile energy prices. “The Panel focused on Canadian sectors that are particularly exposed to energy prices and therefore potentially vulnerable to changes: the energy intensive resource-based, manufacturing, and transport sectors; the capital intensive oil and gas, mining, and electric power sectors; and the transport equipment sector”.

59% of firms surveyed have invested in equipment to manage energy costs over the past few years; only 18% of surveyed firms had access to information that allowed them to benchmark their energy efficiency against their competitors (the Forest Products industry being one example of an industry that does benchmark).

The report was prepared by a 13-member expert panel, chaired by Fred Gorbet . See Energy Prices and Business Decision-Making in Canada: Preparing for the Energy Future at: http://www.scienceadvice.ca/en/assessments/completed/energy-prices.aspx (English), and http://sciencepourlepublic.ca/fr/assessments/completed/energy-prices.aspx (French), with an abridged English version (6 pages) at: http://www.scienceadvice.ca/uploads/eng/assessments%20and%20publications%20and%20news%20releases/energy_prices/energyprices_rif_en.pdf.

Cities Making Progress in the Fight against Climate Change

A new global network, The Compact of Mayors, was announced at the New York Climate Summit in September, to expand city-level GHG reduction strategies; make existing targets and plans public; and make annual progress reports using a newly-standardized measurement system that is compatible with international practices. The new Compact will work with existing organizations and global networks of cities (C40, Cities Climate Leadership Group, ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, and United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG). See a summary at: http://www.iclei.org/details/article/global-mayors-compact-shows-unity-and-ambition-to-tackle-climate-change-1.html, read The Compact document at: http://www.iclei.org/fileadmin/user_upload/ICLEI_WS/Documents/advocacy/Climate_Summit_2014/Compact_of_Mayors_Doc.pdf, or see the World Resources Institute blog at: http://www.wri.org/blog/2014/09/compact-mayors-cities-lead-tackling-climate-change-un-summit/.

At their annual meeting on September 23, the B.C. Mayors Climate Leadership Council reviewed their accomplishments since the group was founded 5 years ago. Climate Action Plans have been established in 50% of municipalities in British Columbia, covering 75% of B.C.’s population. 31 local governments achieved carbon neutrality for their operations in 2012. See the press release at: http://www.toolkit.bc.ca/News/BC-Municipalities-Marching-Ahead-Climate-Action. For more information about action in cities across Canada, see the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Partners for Climate Protection latest National Measures Report at: http://www.fcm.ca/Documents/reports/PCP/2014/PCP_National_Measures_Report_2013_EN.pdf (the PCP is part of the global ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability). See also Best Practices in Climate Resilience from Six North American Cities (from City of Toronto, June 2014) at: http://www1.toronto.ca/City%20Of%20Toronto/Environment%20and%20Energy/Programs%20for%20Businesses/Images/16-06-2014%20Best%20Practices%20in%20Climate%20Resilience.pdf.

The Carbon Disclosure Project surveyed 207 cities worldwide in its new report, Protecting Our Capital: How Climate Adaptation In Cities Creates a Resilient Place for Business. The survey included the following Canadian cities: Vancouver, Victoria, Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Brandon, Winnipeg, Burlington, Hamilton, London, Toronto, and Montreal. The report attempts to identify the alignment of how companies and the cities in which they operate perceive climate-related risks. It finds most commonality in recognizing risks from increased temperatures and heatwaves, which have immediate impacts across the public and private sectors. It is assumed that cities that develop reasonable risk assessment and reduction strategies will be better positioned to attract and retain business. See https://www.cdp.net/CDPResults/CDP-global-cities-report-2014.pdf.

Climate Compensation: Considering the Liability of Oil and Gas Companies on the Toronto Stock Exchange

CLIMATE COMPENSATION: CONSIDERING THE LIABILITY OF OIL AND GAS COMPANIES ON THE TORONTO STOCK EXCHANGE
A report released on October 9 by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) and West Coast Environmental Law considers the total potential liability of five oil and gas companies currently trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange-EnCanada, Suncor, Canadian Natural Resources, Talisman, and Husky. Informed by a discussion of the liability claims against the tobacco industry, the authors provide an overview of possible legal approaches to climate compensation, and conclude that those five TSX-listed companies alone could be incurring a global liability as high as $2.4 billion per year for their contribution to climate change.

See Payback Time? What the Internationalization of Climate Litigation Could Mean for Canadian Oil and Gas Companies at the CCPA website at: https://www.policyalternatives.ca/publications/reports/payback-time.

New European Targets for Emission Reductions and Renewables

On October 24, members of the European Union reached agreement on new emissions targets for 2030: 40% cuts to greenhouse gas emissions, 27% target for the renewable energy market share and, an optional target of 27% increase for energy efficiency improvement. The EU is holding up the agreement as a model for other countries in advance of the Paris climate talks of 2015, though like all politically-driven compromises, it has its critics. According to Greenpeace EU: “People across Europe want cleaner energy, but EU leaders are knocking the wind out of Europe’s booming renewables sector”, and from the European Green Party, “It is shameful that the council gave veto power against better goals to Poland on renewables, to France on interconnectors, and to the UK on efficiency. […] We used to have a polluter-pays-principle; now we’ve gotten a polluter-vetos-principle”.

See The Guardian at: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/oct/24/eu-leaders-agree-to-cut-greenhouse-gas-emissions-by-40-by-2030; Statements and Reactions are found at: http://www.euractiv.com/sections/eu-priorities-2020/eu-leaders-adopt-flexible-energy-and-climate-targets-2030-309462.

Union Should Embed Climate Change in their Core Agenda, says TUED Report

Trade Unions for Energy Democracy is convening a 40-person strategy discussion on September 20 as part of the People’s Climate March activities in New York. The meeting will discuss “central political issues facing the global labor movement around energy, climate change, impacts of pollution, and the need to develop an inspiring vision of a truly sustainable political economy based on solidarity and sufficiency”.

To focus discussion, TUED has released a working paper, written by Sean Sweeney of the Cornell Global Labor Institute, taking stock of what he calls “the great inaction” – UN-led climate negotiations and labour’s participation in them. He advocates that “social dialogue and social partnership need to be replaced by a new trade union narrative around movement-building and alliances, coupled with a new agenda or program grounded in economic democracy and popular power”. He concludes: “Focusing on climate change as a distinct and separate issue is counterproductive. To connect with their own members unions will need to embed climate protection into the work they are presently doing to defend and promote workers’ rights, fight privatization, austerity, and defend public services…By integrating climate protection into their present battles, unions can broaden the social base of support for what they presently regard to be their ‘core agenda’. Furthermore, they can play a role in articulating a clear and inspiring alternative that mounts to a new ecological and economic development paradigm”.

Sweeney cites Naomi Klein’s speech at the founding convention of UNIFOR in September 2013 as a statement of a desirable approach. Ms. Klein will also speak at the TUED event about her new book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate.

LINKS:

Climate Change and the Great Inaction: New Trade Union Perspectives by Sean Sweeney is at: http://unionsforenergydemocracy.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/TUED-working-paper-2-Final.pdf

Agenda for the TUED meeting, Power to the People: A Strategy Discussion on Advancing Social Ownership of Energy is at: http://unionsforenergydemocracy.org/tued-strategy-discussion-sept-20-draft-agenda

Naomi Klein’s website is at: http://www.naomiklein.org/main; see the book review of This Changes Everything in the Globe and Mail at: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/books-and-media/book-reviews/naomi-kleins-this-changes-everything-a-convincing-case-that-global-warming-is-the-defining-issue-of-our-era/article20700657/, and an excerpt at: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/books-and-media/naomi-klein-the-price-of-free-trade-is-unchecked-climate-change/article20578823/

Greening the Workplace: UK Unions Experience

A July report from the Trades Union Congress (TUC), The Union Effect: Greening the Workplace, explores six U.K. case studies in which notable attempts were made to improve workplace environmental footprints, including a government department, a hospital, a port, and a financial services company. While some initiatives were instigated by management and achieved variable success rates, unions played key roles overall. In some cases, unions pro-actively worked for environmental change, for example by educating members directly or instigating campaigns.

In other cases, they supported initiatives by helping shape workplace behaviour and “staff culture”, working closely with management, and adding staff input to the planning process. In general, unions saw it as their role to lobby employers to view a green workplace as a long-term inves'The Union Effect: greening the workplace report cover tment. Unfortunately, the current reliance on voluntary commitments meant that environmental initiatives sometimes stalled or failed as enthusiasm waned. The report concludes that “the right for a recognised trade union to appoint union environmental reps could have a transformative effect”, and that there are three essential underpinnings to success: “sufficient time off for appropriate and relevant environmental training; sufficient time to carry out an energy and environmental audit with management; by agreement with management, the option to establish a joint environment forum”.

LINKS:

The Union Effect: Greening the Workplace is available at: http://www.tuc.org.uk/economic-issues/social-issues/environment/climate-change/union-effect-greening-workplace

Energy Efficiency Investment Bring Jobs in US Scenario

A new report by lead authors Robert Pollin and Heidi Garrett-Peltier proposes a new energy investment program for the U.S., requiring public and private investment of $200 billion per year over the next 20 years, and focussing on energy efficiency and renewable energy.

“Green Growth: A U.S. Program for Controlling Climate Change and Expanding Job Opportunities” argues that the U.S. can cut its carbon pollution by 40% from 2005 levels and create a net increase of 2.7 million clean energy jobs, if policies and investment undergo “a transformational shift in how we construct, finance, and deploy our energy infrastructure”. The report provides estimates of fiscal impacts and job impacts. The authors cite four essential conditions for their scenarios, one of which is “Regional equity and transitional support for communities and workers”, described as “allocating federal government clean energy investment spending equitably among all regions of the country, targeted community-adjustment assistance, extensive worker-training programs, and adjustment-assistance programs for fossil fuel workers. The national clean energy investment program can itself provide a critical base for generating new opportunities among workers and communities that are presently dependent on the fossil fuel industries”.

Energy Efficiency: Measuring the Multiple Benefits

The International Energy Association (IEA) on September 9 released a guide aimed at policy makers, including assessment tools to measure the multiple benefits of energy efficiency. In addition to the customary benefits (reduced GHG emissions, energy savings, and improved energy security), the IEA also lists improved health and well-being, industrial productivity, increased employment, poverty alleviation, and improved local air pollution, among others. It argues that energy efficiency is now the “first fuel” rather than the “hidden fuel”.

Note that in the 2014 International Energy Efficiency Scorecard published by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) in July, Canada ranked 10th out of 16 countries; the U.S. ranked 13th, and Germany ranked #1.

LINKS:

Green Growth: A U.S. Program for Controlling Climate Change and Expanding Job Opportunities by Robert Pollin, Heidi Garrett-Peltier, James Heinz and Bracken Hendricks, released by the Center for American Progress (CAP), and the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) is available at: http://cdn.americanprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/GreenGrowthReport.pdf. Reaction is at: http://cdn.americanprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/PERI_quotesheet9.18.pdf

Capturing the Multiple Benefits of Energy Efficiency is summarized at: http://www.iea.org/newsroomandevents/pressreleases/2014/september/name-125300-en.html, with an executive summary at: http://www.iea.org/Textbase/npsum/MultipleBenefits2014SUM.pdf

Press release for 2014 International Energy Efficiency Scorecard by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) is at: http://www.aceee.org/press/2014/07/germany-italy-eu-china-and-france-to

Business and Climate Change: Canada, US, and a new International Coalition

Corporate Knights magazine released its 13th annual ranking of the best Corporate Citizens in Canada in June. Companies are ranked on 12 key performance indicators, including energy, carbon and water productivity, waste productivity, safety performance and employee turnover, and “clean capitalism pay link” (defined as: at least one senior executive’s compensation tied to clean capitalism-themed performance targets). A companion article, “The Sustainability Pay Link”, discusses the extent to which executive compensation is tied to ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) criteria, and the reasons why it is not as widespread as might be expected.

Also in June, U.S.- based Ceres released a 2014 edition of its ongoing series, Power Forward 2.0: How American Companies are Setting Clean Energy Targets and Capturing Greater Business Value. It reports that clean energy is becoming mainstream for U.S. corporations – with 60% of the Fortune 100 having goals for renewable energy or greenhouse gas reductions, resulting in a decrease in annual CO2 emissions of approximately 58.3 million metric tons. The report also chronicles the evolving business practices, financial tools, and policy developments, including case studies and profiles. For example, it includes a note about the compensation policy at Clorox, which awards its CEO a bonus for meeting corporate environmental goals.

In the lead-up to the U.N. Climate Summit in New York, a new coalition of business and climate organizations is being launched. The founding partners of “We Mean Business” are: BSR, the B Team, CDP, Ceres, The Climate Group, the Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group (CLG) and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). Their mission statement says: “we are calling for national and international policies that will continue to scale-up clean energy and energy efficiency, unleash low carbon innovation and send the right price signals to drive investment in clean technologies”.

LINKS:

Corporate Knights’ Canada’s Best Corporate Citizens is at: http://www.corporateknights.com/report/2014-best-corporate-citizens-canada, with details of the performance criteria at: http://www.corporateknights.com/report/2014-best-corporate-citizens-canada/methodology. “The Sustainability Pay Link” is at: http://www.corporateknights.com/article/sustainability-pay-link

Power Forward 2.0: How American Companies are Setting Clean Energy Targets and Capturing Greater Business Value is at: http://www.ceres.org/resources/reports/power-forward-2.0-how-american-companies-are-setting-clean-energy-targets-and-capturing-greater-business-value/view (free registration required)

We Mean Business website is at: http://www.wemeanbusinesscoalition.org/

Architects Commit to Build Zero Emissions World by 2050

In early August, at the International Union of Architects (UIA) World Congress, architects from around the world signed the “2050 Imperative”, committing them to eliminating emissions in the built environment by 2050.
UIA member organizations alone represent 1.3 million architects in 124 countries. From Canada, the declaration was signed by The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC). From the text: “We recognize our responsibility to seize this unique opportunity to influence ethical, socially responsible development throughout the world: to plan and design sustainable, resilient, carbon -neutral and healthy built environments that protect and enhance natural resources and wildlife habitats, provide clean air and water, generate on-site renewable energy, and advance more livable buildings and communities”.
 
LINKS:

The 2050 Imperative and the media advisory from Architecture 2030 are available at: http://architecture2030.org/news/uia_declaration_081414.html. The 6-page declaration is at: http://www.architecture2030.org/downloads/uia_declaration_full.pdf

Provincial Updates, including the Premiers Agreement on a National Energy Plan

As the annual Premiers conference ended on August 29, Canada’s premiers announced a reinvigorated Canadian Energy Strategy (CES), a shared vision and set of principles emphasizing environmental responsibility, a diversified, climate-friendly energy and clean technology sector, and a robust, lower-carbon economy utilizing carbon pricing.

A driving force at the Premiers Conference may have come from Ontario Premiers Kathleen Wynne and Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard, who had agreed to revive the Ontario-Québec partnership at a bilateral meeting one week earlier. The central Canadian bloc will increase economic and energy integration between the provinces and advocate for national progress on climate change.

Reaction to the Energy Strategy announcement from Keith Stewart of Greenpeace provides historical context to the Premiers’ meetings, and laments the failure of the federal government to contribute meaningfully to the development of a coherent, effective national approach.

Yet Canadian provinces have made uneven progress on their climate action plans, according to monitoring reports released over the summer. In Alberta, the Auditor General’s report stated that the province lacked a plan to meet its goals. British Columbia has achieved its first interim target of a 6% emissions reduction below 2007 levels by 2012, largely due to government policies, including its well-regarded carbon tax. The Ontario Environment Commissioner reported that Ontario will meet its 2014 target (a 6% reduction in emissions below 1990 levels) largely because of the shutdown of the province’s coal plants, but it will miss the 2020 target because so little else has been done. In New Brunswick, the Climate Action Plan 2014-2020 document reports that New Brunswick’s GHG emissions declined by 17 per cent between 2005 and 2010, thus meeting its goals for 2012. A new plan establishes provincial GHG emissions reduction targets of 10 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020 and 75 to 85 per cent below 2001 levels by 2050.

LINKS:
The Canadian Energy Strategy and premiers’ news release are available at:

The Ontario news release on partnering with Québec is available at: http://news.ontario.ca/opo/en/2014/08/quebec-and-ontario-partner-to-strengthen-central-canadas-economy.html?utm_source=ondemand-multimedia&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=p

 Comments from Keith Stewart of Greenpeace are available at: http://www.greenpeace.org/canada/en/Blog/provinces-leave-harper-increasingly-alone/blog/50444/

  A Letter to the Ottawa Citizen by Mark Winfield and Pierre Olivier Pineau provides insight into  Ontario’s and Quebec’s  electricity markets at: http://marksw.blog.yorku.ca/2014/06/11/ontario-quebec-electricity-and-climate-change-time-for-a-new-relationship/

 For a summary of the energy-related policies in Ontario’s July 2014 Budget statement, including the Industrial Electricity Incentive program to promote job creation, see the Gowlings Newsletter at: http://www.gowlings.com/KnowledgeCentre/article.asp?pubID=3675

Alberta Auditor General’s report is at: http://www.oag.ab.ca/webfiles/reports/AGJuly2014Report.pdf, with a Pembina Institute analysis at: http://www.pembina.org/blog/auditor-generals-scathing-review-ups-pressure-to-improve-albertas-weak-climate-policy

Ontario’s Environmental Commissioner’s report, Looking for Leadership: the Costs of Climate Inaction is at: http://www.eco.on.ca/index.php/en_US/pubs/greenhouse-gas-reports/2014-ghg-looking-for-leadership

  In British Columbia, Climate Action in British Columbia Progress Report 2014 is at: http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/cas/pdfs/2014-Progress-to-Targets.pdf.

The Pembina reaction to the report is generally positive at: http://www.pembina.org/blog/bc-climate-action-plan-2

Clean Energy From Canadian Perspective: a Call for Renewable Policies in Canada and a Global Review

“A New National Prize: Making Clean Energy the Next Oil Sands” by Clare Demerse and Dan Woynillowicz appears in the September October issue of Policy magazine. The article distills the findings of the UN-backed study, Pathways to Deep Decarbonization, in which research teams from 15 countries, including Canada, proposed strategies for national energy reform that will allow us to limit global temperature rise to below 2 degrees.

The report of the U.N.-based Pathways project was presented to the Secretary General in July, to support the UN Climate Summit in September. The press release and details of the Pathways project is at: http://unsdsn.org/news/2014/07/08/ddpp-press-release/.

The Demerse/Woynillowicz article summarizes the overall findings and focuses on the Canadian findings, including that by 2050, wind and solar sources could comprise 27% of Canadian electricity generation, up from 2% today. The article concludes by proposing two simple policy changes to kick off a stronger commitment to clean energy in Canada: more favourable tax treatment for power storage and solar technologies, and consumer incentives for electric vehicles. See “A New National Prize” at: http://policymagazine.ca/pdf/9/PolicyMagazineSeptember-October-14-DemerseWoynillowicz.pdf.

Citing the “wave of hope” generated by the People’s Climate March, on SeptTER-Global-Cover-300ember 21, Clean Energy Canada released its first-ever annual review, called Tracking the Energy Revolution: Global Edition at: http://cleanenergycanada.org/2014/09/21/tracking-energy-revolution-builds-surging-wave-hope/. With maps, photos and infographics, it is loaded with statistics that reveal the extent of the global shift to renewable energy by governments and businesses.

Nova Scotia Bans Onshore Fracking; Explores Energy Options

Following a two-year moratorium and the release of the report of a 10-person expert panel chaired by Cape Breton University president David Wheeler, Nova Scotia announced its decision to prohibit onshore high-volume fracking on September 3rd. The ban does not include less risky onshore extraction methods or offshore high-volume fracking.

Nova Scotia’s offshore oil and gas reserves are significantly larger and have already attracted $2 billion in investments and proposals to build three LNG plants. The South Canoe wind project, currently under construction, and a tidal turbine to be built next year will further buttress the province’s energy resources.

Consultations with the public and Mi’kmaq communities revealed a strong mistrust of fracking. See the website of the Hydraulic Fracturing Review at: http://www.cbu.ca/hfstudy, with links to submissions, studies and press coverage. See also “High-volume fracking to be banned in Nova Scotia” available at the CBC at: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/high-volume-fracking-to-be-banned-in-nova-scotia-1.2754439.

On the heels of the announcement, a study released by the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health found that some fracking workers are exposed to unsafe volumes of benzene when inspecting storage tanks. “Evaluation of Some Potential Chemical Exposure Risks During Flowback Operations in Unconventional Oil and Gas Extraction: Preliminary Results” is available at: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/.VBDknKOuRas#.VBySDmOln4U, summarized in the Los Angeles Times at: http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-fracking-benzene-worker-health-20140910-story.html#page=1.

Tsilhqot’in Landmark Decision with Implications for Resource Developments in Canada

The decision by the Supreme Court of Canada to grant British Columbia’s Tsilhqot’in nation title over a portion of their ancestral lands marks the first time Aboriginal title has been formally recognized in Canada. Gowlings law firm calls it “one of the most significant Aboriginal law cases in Canadian history” and a blog at West Coast Environmental Law calls the decision “a watershed moment”.
Notably, the decision clarifies the test for whether an indigenous group has title over an area, including such criterion as occupation prior to the Crown assertion of sovereignty and continuous occupation since. In particular, the case established that “nomadic or semi-nomadic” land use, such as that of the Tsilhqot’in, does not preclude title.
It also offers some explanation about what legal rights and responsibilities title entails, such as decision-making power over how the land will be used, the right to derive economic benefits from the land and to use and manage it. Yet considerable uncertainty remains about resource extraction or other projects espoused by the government. The decision stops short of requiring consent, but recommends seeking consent from title-holders prior to project approval.
The West Coast Environmental Law blog offers an analysis of the text of the decision and how it may impact pipeline development in B.C. See the Supreme Court decision at: http://scc-csc.lexum.com/scc-csc/scc-csc/en/item/14246/index.do; subsequently, the B.C. government announced a letter of agreement with the Tsilhqot’in in a press release at: http://www.newsroom.gov.bc.ca/2014/09/tsilhqotin-bc-sign-historic-letter-of-understanding-set-the-stage-for-lasting-reconciliation.html.
See also: “Supreme Court of Canada grants Tsilhqot’in Aboriginal title claim” summary from Gowlings Law Firm available at: http://www.gowlings.com/KnowledgeCentre/article.asp?pubID=3399
and “Tsilhqot’in Nation v. British Columbia: Implications for the Enbridge Tankers and Pipelines Project” from West Coast Environmental Law is available at: http://wcel.org/resources/environmental-law-alert/tsilhqotin-nation-v-british-columbia-implications-enbridge-tankers.

An Update on Canadian Climate Change

At the end of June, Natural Resources Canada released the latest in its climate change assessment reports, updating the 2008 version. Canada in a Changing Climate: Sector Perspectives on Impacts and Adaptation synthesized over 1500 publications since 2007, and includes chapters on natural resources, food production, industry, biodiversity and protected areas, human health, and water and transportation infrastructure.

Editors of the compilation are F.J. Warren and D.S. Lemmen of the Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Division of Natural Resources Canada; over 90 authors and 115 expert reviewers contributed to the document. See http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/environment/resources/publications/impacts-adaptation/reports/assessments/2014/16309 for the 2014, 2008, and 2004 assessment reports.

Canadian Food Industry Targets Waste Reduction

A new report on waste in Canada’s food industry calls for a collaborative, coordinated approach that includes businesses and consumers to reduce waste. An estimated 30-40% of all the food produced in Canada is wasted.

The report asserts that because businesses tend to focus narrowly on the waste of food products, it overlooks the waste of energy, water, labour, and productive capacity. Where efforts are made to reduce food waste, they tend to emphasize waste diversion, particularly recycling. Far more effective is waste reduction, which eliminates waste diversion costs before they arise.

Although consumers are the greatest source of food waste, the report states that one of the main barriers to  preventing food waste at source were the attitudes and behaviour of management and staff. Developing an Industry Led Approach to Addressing Food Waste in Canada was commissioned by Provision Coalition (a national association of food and beverage manufacturers), and written by Provision Coaliton, Network for Business Sustainability at the Ivey School of Business, and Value Chain Management Centre. See a summary at: http://www.provisioncoalition.com/blog/blogdetail/Industry%20Collaboration%20Needed%20To%20Tackle%20Food%20Waste%20Challenge%20in%20Canada. The full report is at: http://www.provisioncoalition.com/assets/website/pdfs/Provision-Addressing-Food-Waste-In-Canada-EN.pdf.

 

For a recent article on the “food waste hierarchy” and the growing international concern about food waste, see the Food Climate Research Network at:  http://www.fcrn.org.uk/research-library/waste-and-resource-use/food-waste/food-waste-hierarchy-framework-managing-food-surp. The authors argue for a distinction between food surplus and food waste, and advocate a hierarchy of action, beginning with prevention, followed by re-use, recycle, recovery and finally, disposal.

Need for Energy Efficiency will Transform Manufacturing

A report released on July 30 by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) describes the components of “smart manufacturing” – networked devices, predictive and anticipatory software, culminating in an integrated, cloud-based, open-access smart manufacturing platform which “in a few decades will transform the industrial sector and fundamentally alter the way products are manufactured”.
See The Energy Savings of Smart Manufacturing at: http://aceee.org/research-report/ie1403.
See also the July 4 white paper Smart Freight: Applications of Information and Communications Technologies to Freight System Efficiency, which describes and provides examples of companies using new, more sophisticated information and communications technology (ICT). Although examples are given of new systems of electronic monitoring of truck drivers, the majority of the report describes sophisticated logistics innovations. The report is at: http://aceee.org/files/pdf/white-paper/smart-freight-ict.pdf.

 

People’s Climate March Under the Eyes of the World

The Climate Leadership Summit convened by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in New York City on September 23 has created a flurry of reports and statements, some of which are summarized below. Most world leaders are expected at the Summit, with the notable exceptions of the leaders of China, India, and Canada – which will be represented by Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq. See the official U.N. website at: http://www.un.org/climatechange/summit. Oxfam International has published The Summit that Snoozed, which calls for government action at the meeting and provides a checklist/toolkit for sorting out promises from greenwash at: http://www.oxfam.org/sites/www.oxfam.org/files/file_attachments/bkm_climate_summit_media_brief_sept19.pdf.

On September 21, the People’s Climate March, organized by 350.org and Avaaz, brought together people from diverse social movements from across the globe to demonstrate the size and diversity of the support for urgent climate action. In New York, Avaaz presented a petition containing 2.1 million signatures. Donald Lafleur, Executive Vice-President of the Canadian Labour Congress marched – as did an estimated 311,000 other people, including U.N. Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, Al Gore, New York mayor Bill de Blasio, Ontario Environment Minister Glen Murray as well as Bill McKibben and Naomi Klein. According to the New York Times coverage at: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/22/nyregion/new-york-city-climate-change-march.html?ref=todayspaper&_r=0, “the People’s Climate March was a spectacle even for a city known for doing things big”… and it was only one demonstration of hundreds across the globe. The official March website is at: http://peoplesclimate.org/; see also the Toronto Star coverage, which reported 3000 demonstrators including leaders from the Sierra Club, Toronto 350, and Quebec-based Equiterre, at: http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2014/09/21/3000_join_climate_march_at_nathan_phillips_square.html; CBC Vancouver estimated a crowd of 1000 for that city at: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/un-climate-summit-vancouver-joins-thousands-in-worldwide-rallies-1.2773535, see the CTV video from Calgary for a taste of the demonstration there at: http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/canadians-join-global-climate-protest-in-nyc-1.2017167#, and the Montreal Gazette at: http://www.montrealgazette.com/technology/Montrealers+march+back+climate+summit/10223004/story.html.

No Contradiction Between Climate Progress and Economic Growth

In September 2014, with the U.N. Summit on the horizon, the Global Commission on the Climate and the Economy released a consultation document, Better Growth, Better Climate, which culminates in a 10-point plan of key recommendations, aimed at the international community of economic decision-makers.

According to The Guardian newspaper, this report is the most significant intervention in climate politics for Lord Nicholas Stern since his 2006 report. “The report from the international commission concludes that making progress on the climate would not come at the expense of the global economy, but that there will have to be a sharp shift away from carbon-intensive fossil fuels if the world is going to avoid the worst impact of a changing climate”. See reaction at The Guardian at: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/16/barack-obama-report-economy-grow-fight-climate-change-un-summit?CMP=EMCENVEML1631.

The Toronto Globe and Mail reaction honed in on the implications for Canada’s oil and gas industry of the report’s call for higher carbon pricing and the elimination of fossil fuel subsidies – see http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/industry-news/energy-and-resources/oil-reliant-firms-at-risk-report/article20607843/#dashboard/follows/. Paul Krugman wrote an OpEd in New York Times on Sept.18 at: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/19/opinion/paul-krugman-could-fighting-global-warming-be-cheap-and-free.html.

The Global Commission on the Climate and the Economy was commissioned in 2013 by seven countries, with its programme of work conducted by eight research institutes, led by Washington-based World Resources Institute. The Commission is chaired by former President of Mexico Felipe Calderón, and includes Nicholas Stern amongst its other prominent members. Read Better Growth, Better Climate: the Synthesis Report at: http://static.newclimateeconomy.report/TheNewClimateEconomyReport.pdf.

 

Statements of European Policies for a Green Economy

In early July, the European Commission adopted the Green Employment Initiative Communication, a labour market and skills policy framework document which advocates developing labour skills and improving forecasting of which skills will be needed, anticipating sectoral change and promoting worker mobility, supporting job creation by shifting taxation from labour to pollution, and increasing transparency and data quality to better monitor changes to the labour market. See the European Commission press release is at: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-14-765_en.htm; for more specifics see the FAQ’s re the Green Employment Initiative Communication at: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-14-446_en.htm.
Much of the theory behind the policy framework is reiterated and elaborated in the European Environment Agency (EEA) report Resource-efficient Green Economy and EU Policy, released on July 15th. Noting that change is coming too slowly, it states: “what is required is a much bigger, deeper, and more permanent change in the EU economy and society to create both new opportunities and substitution processes across the economic structure”. The report then emphasizes the importance of strong fiscal reforms to support the green transition, including environmental taxation, emissions-trading, and phasing out subsidies to harmful industries, but notes that keeping the EU competitive will take delicate balance. The EEA report also underscores the need for eco-innovation and reducing barriers to adoption and diffusion through the free circulation of green knowledge, greater financial resources. See Resource-efficient Green Economy and EU Policy at: http://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/resourceefficient-green-economy-and-eu.

 

…From the World Bank

Released in June, a World Bank report presents “simulated case studies” of Brazil, China, India, Mexico, the United States and the European Union. It examines the benefits of implementing three sets of policies on clean transportation, energy efficiency in industry, and energy efficiency in buildings. The report introduces a new macroeconomic modeling framework that can incorporate socioeconomic benefits such as public health and environmental externalities. See Climate-Smart Development: Adding Up the Benefits of Actions that Help Build Prosperity, End Poverty and Combat Climate Change at: http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2014/06/23/study-adds-up-benefits-climate-smart-development-lives-jobs-gdp. The World Bank has also praised British Columbia, along with Sweden, California, and even China for their carbon pricing initiatives in “What does Carbon Pricing Success Look Like? (September 18) at: http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2014/09/18/what-does-carbon-pricing-success-look-like-ask-the-leaders, along with a June 3 2014 Statement, Putting a Price on Carbon, at: http://www.worldbank.org/en/programs/pricing-carbon

 

 

IMF Calls for Higher Taxes on Fossil Fuels Around the World, including Canada

Getting Energy Prices Right: From Principle to Practice “green-shift” tax analysis calculates the cost of carbon energy – including health effects of pollution – in 156 countries, and proposes precise levels of taxation: higher levels on fossil fuels, and lower levels on people and capital. Their prescription is gradual tax increases which would be balanced by decreases to income taxes – for Canada, the tax increases average out to about 52% on gasoline and diesel.

Canadian Finance Minister Joe Oliver rejected the proposals, according to a report at the CBC website at: http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/imf-calls-for-green-shift-with-52-gas-tax-hike-in-canada-1.2724294. See also the Globe and Mail article at: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/industry-news/energy-and-resources/imf-calls-on-canada-to-raise-carbon-taxes-cut-income-taxes/article19872600/.

The full report is available for purchase ($28) at: http://www.imfbookstore.org/ProdDetails.asp?ID=9781484388570.

 

Leaked IPCC Updates

In June, the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) released a 20-page guide which summarizes the most pertinent findings relating to workers and employment in the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Climate Change: Implications for Employment is available from http://www.etui.org/Publications2/Guides/Climate-change-Implications-for-employment.

In late August, news media obtained a leaked version of the IPCC draft Synthesis Report of the AR5, scheduled for official release in November. While the facts are unchanged from the three reports it summarizes, the tone was reported to be blunter and more “stark”. See Bloomberg News at: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-08-26/irreversible-damage-seen-from-climate-change-in-un-leak.html or the New York Times at: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/27/science/earth/greenhouse-gas-emissions-are-growing-and-growing-more-dangerous-draft-of-un-report-says.html?ref=science&_r=4.

The leaked draft emphasizes the need for urgent action – a point also made by in the July 31 report from the U.S. Council of Economic Advisors. See The Cost of Delaying Action to Stem Climate Change at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/the_cost_of_delaying_action_to_stem_climate_change.pdf.

 

 

China Announces Coal Restrictions and a National Carbon Market to Begin in 2016

The Chinese government has shown new muscle in its efforts to rein in its enormous GHG emissions. China’s planning agency, the National Development and Reform Commission, issued a directive banning the sale or import of coal with 40 per cent or more ash content and 3 per cent or more sulphur content, with tighter restrictions (ash content limits at 16 per cent and sulphur at 1 per cent) in major economic hubs, including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

Australians, whose coal industry could be adversely affected, see this as a move to protect the Chinese coal mining industry, according to the Sydney Morning Herald at: http://www.smh.com.au/business/china-coal-ban-to-rescue-domestic-mines-20140917-10ibcl.html. See also a Wall Street Journal report at: http://online.wsj.com/articles/china-coal-ban-highly-polluting-types-banned-starting-in-2015-1410852013.

In September, China also announced that it plans to launch a national carbon market in only two years, in 2016. See the New York Times announcement at: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/01/business/international/china-plans-a-market-for-carbon-permits.html, a brief summary by the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development at: http://www.ictsd.org/bridges-news/bridges/news/china-unveils-plans-for-national-carbon-market-by-2016 or a detailed analysis by Caron Brief at: http://www.carbonbrief.org/blog/2014/09/analysing-china-carbon-market/.

 

Information and Communications Technologies as a Path to Sustainable Infrastructure and Systems

On June 17th , the Council of Canadian Academies released the report of its Expert Panel on the Potential for New and Innovative Uses of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) for Greening Canada. The multidisciplinary panel of experts was chaired by David Miller, President and CEO of WWF-Canada. The report discusses interconnected ICT opportunities which can achieve environmental, economic, and social benefits for Canada, and organizes these opportunities in six key thematic areas: “environmental monitoring; smart interconnected utilities; smart interconnected buildings and neighbourhoods; smart interconnected mobility; smart interconnected production; and healthy people and healthy communities”. It also states that Canada is well positioned to be a leader in green data centres, because of our cooler climate and relatively clean electricity supply. Regarding our human capital capabilities to achieve ICT innovation, the report states that they “are difficult to assess”, and that skills gaps are likely to occur on both the demand and supply sides. Increased computer literacy training will be required from elementary to post-graduate levels.

LINKS:

Enabling Sustainability in an Interconnected World is at the Council of Canadian Academies website at http://www.scienceadvice.ca/uploads/eng/assessments%20and%20publications… (224 pages). The Backgrounder, with links to summaries, is at http://www.scienceadvice.ca/en/assessments/completed/greenict.aspx .

Proposed Pipelines would Bring Miniscule Benefits to Quebec; Moratorium Urged for Oil Exploration in the Gulf of St.Lawrence

A report dated January 2014 but only released on June 2 examines the claims of economic benefits and job creation for Quebec if tar sands are transported and refined in Quebec. It concludes that Quebec will receive “miniscule” benefits but will bear almost all of the risk and cost of spills and other environmental impacts. Even if all the proposed projects (Line 9B, Energy East and a Suncor coker plant) were approved, the report estimates the economic contribution related to operating activities for the entire crude oil sector would likely remain at about 0.50% (or less) of the total economy and 0.30% (or less) of total jobs. This report was prepared by the consultants at the Goodman Group, in collaboration with Équiterre and Greenpeace Canada.

A report by the St. Lawrence Coalition looks at the issue of the exploration for and exploitation of oil in the Gulf of the St. Lawrence River, and the impacts on the five provinces which border it: Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, PEI, and Newfoundland. The report describes the environmental impacts, and also includes a section dealing with socioeconomic impacts such as job creation, wealth distribution, and how oil-related activity can coexist with the existing fisheries industry and with the First Nations. Because of the current gaps in knowledge, the report calls on the precautionary principle and recommends a moratorium on development to allow “a vast public consultation as part of an ad hoc public review …, which would involve the coastal communities of the five Gulf provinces when it comes to decide whether or not the Gulf should be opened to the oil and gas industry.” The authors of this report are employed at the David Suzuki Foundation, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) Quebec, Nature Québec, and Attention FragÎles.

LINKS:

Economics of Transporting and Processing Tar Sands Crudes in Quebec is available at http://www.greenpeace.org/canada/Global/canada/report/2014/06/Goodman%20report.pdf
Gulf 101: Oil in the Gulf of St. Lawrence: Facts, Myths, and Future Outlook by the St. Lawrence Coalition is at http://www.coalitionsaintlaurent.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/DSF_Golfe_101_English_June_4_2014_V2.pdf (English version) and http://www.coalitionsaintlaurent.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/DSF_Golfe_101_Francais_June_4_2014.pdf (French version).

Canadian Forestry Industry Rebrands Itself as Innovative and Green

Canada’s forestry companies, through their organization the Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC), recently released two “report cards” to measure their progress towards their Vision 2020 goals for productivity, environmental performance, and people . Regarding people, their Pathways to Prosperity report states: “the sector recruited 8,000 workers in the period 2010 to 2012, mainly to replace retiring baby-boomers.” The environmental performance measures get far more attention: “

In 2010-2012, the reduction in waste to landfill was 31%, …. with 98% of wood residue now being used for either energy generation or composting. More than 66% of mills’ waste water sediment is being used for either energy generation, composting or land application. The recycling rate also improved by another 4%. Canada has one of the highest recovery rates of waste paper and packaging in the world at 73% … Energy use decreased by 8%. For example, the sector continued to invest in energy reduction projects including the installation of energy-efficient equipment to improve mills’ competitiveness and increase the production of green energy. This has also served to improve the quality of air emissions with a reduction in particulate matter (PM) (11%), sulphur oxide (SOx) (6%) and nitrous oxide (NOx) (11%)” .

The Productivity Scorecard report is based on a detailed analysis by the Centre for the Study of Living Standards (CSLS). That study documents the trends in the labour force and in labour productivity, and concludes that the driving force behind rapid labour productivity growth in the forest products industry is multifactor productivity growth, made possible by investment in change and innovation. The report describes the two major initiatives: Future Bio-pathways Project (begun in 2010), and Construction Value Pathways (begun in 2013). The report recommends renewed focus on human and physical capital investment, as well as on R&D spending.

To rebrand the industry and attract a new generation of workers to the sector, FPAC launched The Greenest Workforce.ca website. The website states: “The industry’s traditional products like pulp, paper and lumber are fundamental to the success of new products like renewable bio-fuels, green bio-plastics, bio-pharmaceuticals, bulletproof vests, car parts and airplane wings which are part of the dynamic new face of the Canadian forest products industry.” Using videos and Twitter, the site includes job postings, job profiles, descriptions of the industry and career prospects.
Unifor, which represents more than 21,000 forestry workers, and just completed bargaining for a pattern agreement with Resolute Forest Products, agrees that the industry is in transition. In a President’s Statement of June 8, Jerry Diaz calls for the reinstatement of a Forestry Industry Council with “a specific mandate to investigate and make public recommendations for a strengthened high-value forestry industry.”

LINKS:

Vision2020 Pathways to Prosperity (June 17) is at http://www.fpac.ca/index.php/en/page/vision2020
Productivity Report Card summary (May 2014) is at http://www.fpac.ca/publications/14-FPAC-0349-ProductivityReportDesign2014-EN-Rev5.pdf with the detailed analysis prepared by the Centre for the Study of Living standards (CSLS) at http://www.csls.ca/reports/csls2014-01.pdf .
Greenest Workforce.ca is at http://www.thegreenestworkforce.ca/index.php/en/
Unifor Statement is at http://www.unifor.org/en/blog/new-resolute-collective-agreements-covering-2000-workers

Canada Ranks #1 Outside the U.S. for LEED Projects; A New Guide for Engineers Recognizes the Impact of Sustainability Requirements

Canada was ranked first for LEED® installations, of all countries outside the U.S., in a list compiled by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). The list is intended to demonstrate the global reach of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) movement – a green building certification system that provides third-party verification of the features, design, construction, maintenance, operation and effectiveness of green buildings.

According to the USGBC, Canada has 17.74 million GSM of LEED-certified space, and in total, it has 4,068 LEED-certified and -registered projects representing 58.66 million GSM. A related report, LEED in Motion: Canada, details all LEED activity in Canada, and features a list of the cities in Canada that have incorporated LEED into their local building codes, as well as provincial and federal green building requirements. It states that there are 3,651 people in Canada who hold LEED credentials.

For Canadian consulting engineers dealing with infrastructure projects, the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies – Canada (ACEC) recently released Sustainable Development for Canadian Consulting Engineers. It states: “It is clear that sustainable development will increasingly drive the project requirements of clients of the consulting engineering industry in Canada. The industry needs to take sustainability issues seriously …” The report identifies systems currently in use for sustainability measurement on infrastructure projects in the U.S., U.K., France and Australia , and considers their possible application for Canada. The report acknowledges the importance of the existing PIEVC Engineering Protocol for evaluating the impact of climate change on infrastructure

LINKS:

LEED in Motion: Canada is available at http://www.usgbc.org/sites/default/files/LEED_In_Motion_Canada_0.pdf ,with the press release re the List of LEED countries at http://www.cagbc.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=News_and_Media_Room&template=/CM/ContentDisplay.cfm&ContentID=16357
Sustainable Development for Canadian Consulting Engineers is at http://www.acec.ca/source/2014/SourceExpress/sustainability/PDF/SustainabilityEng.pdf

6.5 Million People Employed in the Global Renewable Energy Industry

The Renewables Global Status Report released by REN21 on June 4th covers recent industry and policy developments, and key growth trends in the global renewable energy industry, striking an optimistic tone with the statement that more than 22% of the world’s power production now comes from renewable sources. China, the United States, Brazil, Canada, and Germany remain the top countries for total installed renewable power capacity. REN21 reports that 6.5 million people are directly or indirectly employed in renewable energy industries worldwide. Data is provided by industry at the global level, with greater detail for some countries , including U.S. China, India, EU, but not for Canada. Most renewable jobs are concentrated in a few countries: China, Brazil, U.S., India, Bangladesh, and some EU countries; of these, 60% of China’s employment is concentrated in the solar pv industry. Regarding the employment data, the report states: “Global statistics remain incomplete, methodologies are not harmonised, and the different studies used are of uneven quality. These numbers are based on a wide range of studies, focused primarily on the years 2012–2013.”

LINKS:
Renewables Global Status Report website, with links to the full report, figures, summaries and previous editions back to 2005 is available at http://www.ren21.net/REN21Activities/GlobalStatusReport.aspx

Proposed Carbon Tax Model Forecasts Job Increases; Hank Paulsen Calls Urgent Action Against Climate Change, Including a Carbon Tax

A new report models the effects of a carbon tax in the U.S. at the point of extraction, beginning in 2016 at a rate of $10 per metric ton of carbon dioxide and escalating at $10 per year until 2035. All proceeds from the carbon tax would enter into a “fee-and-dividend” (F&D) system that would refund money to all American households on a monthly basis, based on the number of people in the household. The report forecasts that by 2025, there would be: 2.1 million more jobs under the F&D carbon tax than in the baseline; 33% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from baseline conditions; 13,000 premature deaths avoided because of improved air quality. The report was prepared for the Citizen’s Climate Lobby by consultants Regional Economic Models (REMI) and Synapse Energy Economics.
Models and research about carbon taxes may assume higher prominence as the U.S. business community becomes more and more open about discussing the possibility.

In an OpEd in the New York Times on June 21, Former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, Hank Paulsen, a Republican, states that climate change is the challenge of our times and “The solution can be a fundamentally conservative one that will empower the marketplace to find the most efficient response. We can do this by putting a price on emissions of carbon dioxide — a carbon tax…. Putting a price on emissions will create incentives to develop new, cleaner energy technologies.“ Paulsen, along with former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and billionaire Tom Steyer, founded a business-oriented research initiative called Risky Business. Their high profile report is scheduled to be released on June 24, and will expand on the themes of Paulesen`s OpEd: the urgency of action and the risks of delay in fighting climate change.

LINKS:
The Economic, Climate, Fiscal, Power, and Demographic Impact of a National Fee-and-Dividend Carbon Tax is at http://citizensclimatelobby.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/REMI-carbon-tax-report-62141.pdf
“The Coming Climate Crash“ in New York Times OpEd (June 21) is at http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/22/opinion/sunday/lessons-for-climate-change-in-the-2008-recession.html?ref=opinion
Risky Business website is at http://riskybusiness.org/

Lord Stern Proposes an Alternate Model of the Economic Cost of Climate Change

A new academic paper by Nicholas Stern and Simon Dietz critques the widely-used Dynamic Integrated model of Climate and the Economy (DICE), developed by William Nordhaus in the 1990’s, and updated in 2013. In a summary from the London School of Economics, Lord Stern states: “I hope our paper will prompt other economists to strive for much better models which will help policy-makers and the public to recognise the immensity of the potential risks of unmanaged climate change.” By modifying assumptions – for example, using a range of temperatures from 1.5C to 6C for climate senstivity, rather than the single 3C level of the DICE model – Stern and Dietz arrive at a level of $200 per tonne for the cost of carbon – astonishingly higher than $40 – $50 per tonne cost that the DICE model would produce. (The carbon tax in British Columbia grew from $10 per tonne at its inception in 2008, to the current level of $30 per tonne of CO2, since July 2012. )

LINKS:
London School of Economics press release is at http://www.lse.ac.uk/GranthamInstitute/news/dietz_stern_june2014/ . A working paper version of the article , Stern and Dietz (2014) Endogenous growth, convexity of damages and climate risk: how Nordhaus’ framework supports deep cuts in carbon emissions, is available from a link at http://www.lse.ac.uk/GranthamInstitute/publication/endogenous-growth-convexity-of-damages-and-climate-risk-how-nordhaus-framework-supports-deep-cuts-in-carbon-emission/.
“We’re massively underestimating climate costs, experts warn” (June 16) at Grist at http://grist.org/news/were-massively-underestimating-climate-costs-experts-warn/

Reaction to the Harper Government Northern Gateway Decision

Neither the Prime Minister nor any cabinet ministers were available for comments or questions about the expected cabinet approval, released at the last possible moment via a brief press release on June 17. “After carefully reviewing the report, the Government accepts the independent Panel’s recommendation to impose 209 conditions on Northern Gateway Pipelines’ proposal.” …” Moving forward, the proponent must demonstrate to the independent regulator, the NEB, how it will meet the 209 conditions. It will also have to apply for regulatory permits and authorizations from federal and provincial governments. In addition, consultations with Aboriginal communities are required under many of the 209 conditions that have been established and as part of the process for regulatory authorizations and permits.” See the press release at http://news.gc.ca/web/article-en.do?mthd=tp&crtr.page=2&nid=858469&crtr.tp1D=1 and the government’s summary statement of the 209 conditions is at http://news.gc.ca/web/article-en.do?mthd=tp&crtr.page=1&nid=858489&crtr.tp1D=930 .

The province of British Columbia has conditions of its own, which Environment Minister Polak reiterated in the official B.C. reaction to the decision on June 17 at http://www.newsroom.gov.bc.ca/2014/06/northern-gateway-pipeline-more-work-needed-to-meet-bcs-five-conditions.html. Most notably, the First Nations of B.C. have condemned the decision: see the Coastal First Nations website at http://www.coastalfirstnations.ca/ , where Art Sterritt, Executive Director of the Coastal First Nations says: “The government’s announcement giving its approval to Enbridge is meaningless. ‘It’s an approval in name only. This project is dead. ’…… The project can’t proceed with these conditions. We’ve been clear there is no technology to clean up an oil spill and the dispersant that is used causes more damage than the oil itself.” (http://www.coastalfirstnations.ca/news-release/june-17-2014-215pm ).

Another press release from the Coastal First Nations, on June 16th, states: “With many First Nations gearing up for court battles to protect their territories from this risky proposal, representatives of Coastal First Nations, Dogwood Initiative, Unifor, West Coast Environmental Law, Douglas Channel Watch and One Cowichan promised to work together to defeat Northern Gateway, regardless of any approvals issued by the federal cabinet.”

The internet is alive with opposition campaigns: Within B.C., the Dogwood Initiative is calling for a referendum at Let B.C. Vote at http://www.letbcvote.ca/ , (includes a compilation of news reports). Stand Strong Christy, co-ordinated by ForestEthics Advocacy, at http://standstrongchristy.ca/ has an online petition urging B.C. Premier Christy Clark to hold firm to her earlier stated 5 conditions for Northern Gateway approvals in B.C.

Leadnow.ca and ForestEthics Advocacy host another petition at http://www.enbridge21.ca/ naming the Enbridge 21 (the 21 federal Conservative cabinet ministers from B.C.) and providing an online email form to contact them, and “hold them accountable” by pledging to vote for whoever opposes Enbridge in the 2015 election.

David Suzuki posted an open Letter and has an online petition to Stephen Harper , and the leaders of all federal parties at http://action2.davidsuzuki.org/no-enbridge-pipeline?utm_campaign=enbridgeEmail&utm_source=EM1&utm_medium=email&utm_content=link&mkt_tok=3RkMMJWWfF9wsRolu6XLZKXonjHpfsX66u8kXK%2B3lMI%2F0ER3fOvrPUfGjI4CSsFiI%2BSLDwEYGJlv6SgFS7jNMbZkz7gOXRE%3D .

The federal Green Party also has its own petition at http://www.greenparty.ca/media-release/2014-06-17/predictable-cabinet-decision-enbridge-project-launches-fight-stop-pipelines . Environmental Defense has an online email form to send a protest message to the political leaders at http://environmentaldefence.ca/stop-tar-sands-expansion?utm_source=Environmental+Defence+Campaign+Email+List&utm_campaign=06cf692bda-Lighten+Up+FINAL&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_df56834cfa-06cf692bda-27545293.

For reaction from environmental groups, see EcoJustice at http://www.ecojustice.ca/media-centre/press-releases/federal-approval-doesnt-guarantee-enbridge-northern-gateway-will-be-built ; Pembina Institute at http://www.pembina.org/reacts-fed-decision-gateway, Greenpeace Canada at http://www.greenpeace.org/canada/en/Blog/harper-just-picked-a-fight-he-cant-win/blog/49666/ , Environmental Defence Canada at http://environmentaldefence.ca/articles/statement-environmental-defence%E2%80%99s-tim-gray-in-response-federal-cabinet%E2%80%99s-irresponsible-deci and Natural Resources Defence Council (U.S.) at http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/eshope/canada_approves_northern_gatew.html .

Carbon Taxes and the Need for Social License

Especially timely, given the June 17th Northern Gateway decision, is a recent report by the Canada West Foundation about the concept and means to achieve “social license”, and a Pembina Institute blog which reviews it. Pembina provides this definition: “Social license is generally considered to exist when the perceptions, opinions, and beliefs held by a local population regarding a development allow for the ongoing public approval of the related activity.” The Canada West Foundation, an advocate for Western development, states: that … “A positive brand will only endure if it is based on solid and constantly improving performance at the local level.” The author calls for industry to lead a systematic effort to engage supporters in communities affected by resource development, and calls on government to be involved with “public policy, legislation and regulation needed to sustain progress”. Regarding a carbon tax, for example, he states: “The net benefit/cost might well be positive for resource industries since a stable carbon management regime would add to policy stability and social legitimacy.”

LINKS:
From The Ground Up: Earning Public Support for Resource Development (May 27) from Canada West Foundation at http://cwf.ca/pdf-docs/publications/From%20the%20Ground%20Up%20Report%20v9.pdf.
The Costs of Losing Social License (June 6) at Pembina Institute at http://www.pembina.org/blog/the-costs-of-losing-social-licence.

House of Commons Standing Committee Applauds the Oil and Gas Industry

In the lead-up to the Northern Gateway decision, on June 11th the House of Commons Standing Committee on Natural Resources presented its 7th Report on the Cross-country Benefits of the Oil and Gas Industry. The report selectively reproduces the testimony of industry-affiliated witnesses, and quotes the Assistant Deputy Minister of Natural Resources Canada, who is reported to have said that “the socio-economic benefits from the oil and gas industry are universally positive.” Not only socio-economic benefits, but, according to the Standing Committee, “the development of the oil and gas industry generates various environmental benefits, including improved air quality, water quality, and reforestation. Many of these improvements are achieved through world-class innovation and clean technologies developed and supported by the industry”.

Dissenting reports from the Liberal and New Democratic members of the committee attempt to give voice to some of the less enthusiastic witnesses. See the report at http://www.parl.gc.ca/Content/HOC/Committee/412/RNNR/Reports/RP6644319/412_RNNR_Rpt07_PDF/412_RNNR_Rpt07-e.pdf (English version) or http://www.parl.gc.ca/Content/HOC/Committee/412/RNNR/Reports/RP6644319/412_RNNR_Rpt07_PDF/412_RNNR_Rpt07-f.pdf (French version). Briefs and evidence submitted are not available online, but the oral testimony and minutes of the committee meetings can be read at http://www.parl.gc.ca/committeebusiness/CommitteeMeetings.aspx?Cmte=RNNR&Language=E&Mode=1&Parl=41&Ses=2 (English) http://www.parl.gc.ca/committeebusiness/CommitteeMeetings.aspx?Cmte=RNNR&Mode=1&Parl=41&Ses=2&Language=F (French version).

Ontario Electors Return a Liberal Government, Avoid Conservative Cuts to Green Energy

The Green Prosperity Scorecard at http://www.greenprosperity.ca/scorecard/ compared the environmental policies of the four political parties contesting the Ontario election of June 12. Professor Mark Winfield of York University also highlighted the positions in his OpEd at http://marksw.blog.yorku.ca/2014/05/26/ontarios-not-so-green-election/ . “There is…almost across-the-board silence on basic environmental issues like air and water quality, waste management, the protection of biological diversity, parks and protected areas, and endangered species.” After the success of the Liberal party and Premier Kathleen Wynne, Professor Winfield wrote: “Wynne’s party owes a great deal of its success last night to younger and progressive voters in towns and cities, for whom urban, energy and environmental issues are of central importance. With the threat of a PC government removed, these voters, and the province’s organized environmental movement, can afford to push the Liberals much harder in these areas than they have over the past few years.”

See http://marksw.blog.yorku.ca/2014/06/13/the-2014-ontario-election-outcome-the-electoral-politics-of-economic-transitions/ . Specifically, Environmental Defence reacted with the statement: “Most immediately, we look forward to the reintroduction of the Great Lakes Protection Act, the Protection of Public Participation Act, and the Ending Coal for Cleaner Air Act.” See http://environmentaldefence.ca/articles/statement-tim-gray-environmental-defence%E2%80%99s-executive-director-kathleen-wynne%E2%80%99s-election-pre .

Clean Electricity in Alberta Means Less Reliance on Coal

While the government of Alberta continues to develop its Alternative and Renewable Energy Policy Framework, a new report from the Pembina Institute and Clean Energy Canada argues that “With effective policy, the province could cut the percentage of grid electricity that is supplied from coal energy from over 60 per cent today to less than four per cent by 2033.” (p.1) According to the report, in 2013, coal power generation supplied 63.7 per cent of electricity in Alberta’s grid (compared to 39.1 per cent of the in the United States). And whereas total coal power generation in the United States decreased by 21.3 per cent between 2007 and 2013, it decreased by only 13 per cent in Alberta. (p.4). See Power to Change: How Alberta can Green its Grid and Embrace Clean Energy at http://www.pembina.org/docs/power-to-change-pembina-cec-2014.pdf with a backgrounder at http://www.pembina.org/docs/power-to-change-pembina-cec-backgrounder.pdf . Earlier in 2014, the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment commissioned a survey which revealed that 80% of Albertans agreed that wind energy should be used to reduce reliance on coal-fired power in the province. See the CAPE Newsletter (Summer 2014) at http://cape.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/capenewsummer2014.pdf . And on May 23, a public opinion commissioned by the Alberta Energy Efficiency Alliance, in conjunction with the Pembina Institute, reported that 76 per cent of Albertans support the stronger greenhouse gas performance regulations for industrial facilities. See the Ipsos Reid poll at http://www.ipsos-na.com/news-polls/pressrelease.aspx?id=6509 .

No to Light Rail for the Calgary-Edmonton Corridor

The Standing Committee on Alberta’s Economic Future reported to the provincial legislature on May 23, with a recommendation not to proceed with a light-rail link between Calgary and Edmonton at this time because population is not sufficient to support it. However, for future infrastructure planning, the report recommended that the government should identify a greenfield transportation/utility corridor and begin acquiring land, while at the same time developing a regulatory framework to allow the private sector to participate. See the report at http://www.assembly.ab.ca/committees/abeconomicfuture/EHS/Reports/2014/High%20Speed%20Rail%20Transit%20System%20in%20Alberta,%20Final%20Report.pdf .

A Path to Sustainable De-Growth

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives on June 12 released an extended essay by University of British Columbia Professor Emeritus William Rees, the originator of “ecological footprint analysis”. He states, “Ecological damage and resource scarcity is largely the result of production and consumption to satisfy just the wealthiest 20 per cent of the world’s population.” (p. 2) … “Drawing on various disciplines from cognitive psychology through environmental science, sociology and economic history, I outline some of the broad framing necessary at the global level and specific policies needed at the national and (bio-)regional scales to achieve a planned descent to a sustainable steady state.” (p. 4). Read Avoiding Collapse : An Agenda for Sustainable Degrowth and Relocalizing the Economy at https://www.policyalternatives.ca/sites/default/files/uploads/publications/BC%20Office/2014/06/ccpa-bc_AvoidingCollapse_Rees.pdf .

New Canadian NGO Promotes Polluter Responsibility and a Clean Economy

Canadians for Clean Prosperity has launched a website with the goal of educating Canadians and advocating for political action towards polluter responsibility. The website estimates the costs of pollution clean-up – currently borne by taxpayers – at approximately $27.1 billion dollars, or $1779 per Canadian household.

Their online petition states: “We call on the government to impose pollution fees and use the revenues to cut taxes, dollar for dollar, on things we want, like jobs and income.” Don Drummond, former Chief Economist of the TD Bank, Gord Downie of the Tragically Hip and Munir Sheikh, former Chief Statistician of Statistics Canada are among the Advisors to the group; the business-oriented Board of Directors includes Greg Keissling of Bullfrog Power, and Bruce Lourie, President of the Ivey Foundation. See the website at http://www.cleanprosperity.ca/.

President Obama’s Landmark Executive Actions to Cut Coal Plant Emissions and Protect Oceans

For details about the June regulatory initiatives in the United States, go to: Clean Power Plan Proposed Rule at the Environmental Protection Agency website at http://www2.epa.gov/carbon-pollution-standards/clean-power-plan-proposed-rule and for commentary, see `Taking Page from Health Care Act, Obama Climate Plan relies on States“ in the New York Times (June 2) at http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/03/us/politics/obama-epa-rule-coal-carbon-pollution-power-plants.html. The Pembina Institute highlights the growing gap between Canadian and U.S. climate leadership at http://www.pembina.org/blog/us-action-on-climate-amplifies-leadership-vacuum-in-ottawa; The Natural Resources Defence Council discusses the possible impacts on jobs at http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/plehner/new_carbon_pollution_standards.html and http://www.nrdc.org/media/2014/140529.asp . Regarding the U.S. Executive Order on June 17th to expand protection of the oceans, see the White House press release at http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/06/17/presidential-memorandum-comprehensive-framework-combat-illegal-unreporte , and “Pew Applauds Obama Administration`s New Focus on Illegal Fishing” at http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/about/news-room/news/2014/06/pew-applauds-obama-administrations-new-focus-on-illegal-fishing or “ Obama to Expand Marine Reserves and Crack Down on Seafood Black Market“ at The Guardian (June 17) at http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jun/17/obama-oceans-marine-reserves-leonardo-dicaprio

Roadmap for Corporate Sustainability Practices Includes Employee Recruitment, Retention, Training and Support

A new report produced by Ceres and Sustainalytics assesses the progress of 613 of the largest, publicly-traded companies in the U.S. in integrating sustainability into business systems and decision-making. Gaining Ground uses the framework of the Ceres “Roadmap”, reporting on greenhouse gas emissions reduction programs, human rights in supply chains, and the sustainability aspects of product design, transportation and logistics, and supply chains. The Roadmap includes 3 activities related to employees (under the “Performance dimension”): recruitment and retention, training and support, and promotion of sustainable lifestyles. The report states that only 6 percent of companies can be considered “Tier 1”, or exemplary, regarding their efforts to systematically engage employees in sustainability issues. General Electric is highlighted for “using its Human Resource department to integrate sustainability into the company’s culture-from hiring practices to job education and training to employee well-being programs.” Campbell Soup requires that every employee have a “CSR oriented goal” in their annual performance objectives (Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) includes sustainability). Bank of America provided $3,000 reimbursement to employees who purchased hybrid vehicles. Gaining Ground concludes that there is progress in corporate sustainability initiatives, but it is insufficient at the current rate.

LINKS

Gaining Ground: Corporate Progress on the Ceres Roadmap for Sustainability is at: http://www.ceres.org/roadmap-assessment/progress-report, with interactive links to topics and company information. The Summary of employee related information is at: http://www.ceres.org/roadmap-assessment/roadmap-in-action/explore-by-topic/performance-employees.

See the Ceres Climate Declaration and list of signatories (including some Canadian companies) at: http://www.ceres.org/bicep/climate-declaration/climate-declaration-full-signatory-list.

Drought Brings Economic and Job Loss in California’s Agricultural Industry

Researchers at the University of California at Davis were commissioned by the state Department of Food and Agriculture to prepare estimates of the economic impacts of the current drought to enable targeting of drought relief efforts. Their preliminary report concludes that losses will reach $1.7 billion and 14,500 full-time and seasonal jobs in the intensively-farmed Central Valley. “…the smaller than expected reduction of water availability, crop acres and employment comes at the expense of the exhaustion of reserve groundwater storage and a substantial increase in groundwater overdraft. There will be substantial long term costs of groundwater overdraft that are not reflected in this study. Furthermore, if another critically dry year occurs in 2015 the socioeconomic impacts will likely be much more severe.” Although the drought will cause hardship for farmers and communities, agriculture accounts for less than 3 percent of the state’s $1.9 trillion a year gross domestic product. Other economic concerns are for forest fires, the fisheries industry, and consumer prices for fruit and vegetables. California has been under a state of emergency since January 2014; its normal dry season begins around May.

LINKS

Preliminary 2014 Drought Economic Impact Estimates in Central Valley Agriculture is at: https://watershed.ucdavis.edu/files/biblio/Preliminary_2014_drought_economic_impacts-05192014.pdf, with a press release summary at: http://news.ucdavis.edu/search/news_detail.lasso?id=10933.

To keep abreast of the hardships and actions relating to California’s drought, go to the government website at: ca.gov/drought.

Actions By International Unions: A Global Campaign for Climate Goals, and Demands for Labour Rights in TIPP Trade Agreement

On May 21, more than 50 unions representing millions of workers joined the Unions4Climate global campaign at the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) World Congress in Berlin. The sign-up launches the mobilisation campaign for industrial transformation, just transition measures to organise workers in green, decent jobs, and ultimately for a climate agreement in Paris in 2015. Hassan Yussuff, newly-elected President of the Canadian Labour Congress, and Secretary Treasurer Barb Byers attended the Berlin meeting, though the CLC is not named in the press release as one of the signatories.

The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) has released a detailed position statement regarding the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) agreement, currently under discussion between the EU and the U.S. The ETUC position includes demands for consideration of the environmental impact of tar sands and shale gas, and for protection of labour rights on both sides of the Atlantic. On May 15, 240 unionists and activists were arrested in Brussels in protest against budget austerity and the trade agreement.

LINKS

The Unions4Climate Action website, including a sign-up form for individuals, is at: http://act.equaltimes.org/unions4climate; the full Statement, Climate Change is a Trade Union Issue, is at: http://www.ituc-csi.org/IMG/pdf/en_unions4climate.pdf. The website for the 3rd Congress is at: http://congress2014.ituc-csi.org/, and includes a press release about the campaign.

“ETUC position on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership” statement from the European Trade Union Confederation is available at: http://www.etuc.org/documents/etuc-position-transatlantic-trade-and-investment-partnership#.UxX0sYW7Tm4. See also “What does the TTIP really mean for workers?” (March 10) from ETUC’s Equal Times at: http://www.equaltimes.org/what-does-the-ttip-really-mean-for?lang=en.

Sierra Club and Power Shift TTIP analysis: Energy Trade in the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership: Endangering Action on Climate Change is available at: http://sierraclub.typepad.com/compass/2014/05/exposed-transatlantic-trade-pact-endangers-action-on-climate–1.html.

“Hundreds of Protesters Arrested In Brussels as Business Leaders Debate ‘Maintaining Citizen’s Trust'” at: http://www.euractiv.com/sections/european-business-summit-2014/hundreds-protesters-arrested-brussels-business-leaders-debate.

Improvements to Canadian Regulations for Oil Tankers and Pipelines

Following changes to railroad safety regulations in April, the Canadian government released back-to-back announcements of changes governing oil tankers (on May 13) and pipelines (on May 14). Regarding spills from oil tankers, the new regulations will increase company liability from the current $161 million per incident to $400 million per spill, and will also impose a levy on companies, with a total of $1.6 billion available to clean up an oil spill and provide compensation. (The government’s own expert panel had recommended that corporate liability be unlimited in its report, delivered December 2013.) See the government press release at: http://news.gc.ca/web/article-en.do?nid=847519 or the CBC report at: http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/new-tanker-spill-rules-raise-liability-for-companies-1.2641217.

The changes to pipeline safety announced on May 14 include the introduction of “absolute liability” for all National Energy Board (NEB)-regulated pipelines, making companies liable for costs and damages irrespective of fault, up to the limit of $1 billion for major oil pipelines; companies continue to have unlimited liability when at fault or negligent. The powers of the National Energy Board are expanded to give the NEB authority to order reimbursement of any cleanup costs incurred by governments, communities or individuals, and to take control of any clean-up operations if the company is unable or unwilling to do so. The regulations also call for developing a strategy with industry and First Nations communities to increase First Nations’ participation in pipeline safety operations. See the government press release and backgrounder at: http://news.gc.ca/web/article-en.do?nid=848059.

Report Re B.C. Site C Dam Draws Little Attention or Controversy

The Report of the Review Panel on British Columbia’s Site C dam was released on May 8. See the Report of the Joint Review Panel at: http://www.ceaa-acee.gc.ca/050/documents/p63919/99173E.pdf, the Globe and Mail coverage (May 8) at: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/site-c-recommendation/article18565850/ or the summary at The Tyee at: http://thetyee.ca/News/2014/05/08/Site-C-Review/. The Panel was mandated “to inquire into the environmental, economic, social, health,and heritage effects of the Project and their significance, to examine proposals for the mitigation of adverse effects, and to record assertions of Project effects on the Aboriginal rights and treaty rights of the affected First Nations and Métis peoples.” Their only recommendation relating to employment issues was that “If the Project proceeds, BC Hydro must work with training institutions to focus on employment in indirect and induced sectors for Aboriginal workers, as these jobs are likely to be longer lived than those related strictly to construction.” An earlier WCR post links to a David Suzuki report about the Site C Dam: see: https://workandclimatechangereport.org/2013/12/19/the-jobs-argument-and-the-costs-of-energy-development-two-views/

Shale Gas Reports Call for “More Research” and “Better Communication”

On May 1, the Council of Canadian Academies released a report by a multidisciplinary panel of experts who considered the state of knowledge of potential environmental impacts from the exploration, extraction, and development of Canada’s shale gas resources. The report does not address the safety, nor the economic benefits of development. As stated in the press release: ” It reviews the use of new and conventional technologies in shale gas extraction, and examines several issues of concern including potential impacts on groundwater and surface water, greenhouse gas emissions, cumulative land disturbance, and human health.” The report concludes that suitability of shale gas development depends on regional context because of Canada’s different geographies, geologies, and ecologies. Further, it states that scientific understanding is not yet sufficient nor conclusive. The Environmental Impacts of Shale Gas Extraction in Canada is at: http://www.scienceadvice.ca/uploads/eng/assessments%20and%20publications%20and%20news%20releases/shale%20gas/shalegas_fullreporten.pdf; a press release and summaries are available at: http://www.scienceadvice.ca/en/assessments/completed/shale-gas.aspx (English) and http://sciencepourlepublic.ca/fr/assessments/completed/shale-gas.aspx (French).

In the U.K. in early May, a Select Committee of the House of Lords tabled a report, The Economic Impact on UK Energy Policy of Shale Gas and Oil. The report examines the U.S. experience, and discusses U.K. environmental impacts, job impacts, and climate change implications. It concludes: “We consider that the risks to human health and the environment are low if shale development is properly regulated, with the improvements we recommend. We welcome the community benefit schemes announced by the industry which, if well-targeted, could play a role in winning public acceptance. We also recommend that the industry improves its presentation and communication skills and puts across more convincingly the economic and employment gains shale development can bring to areas like Lancashire.” The official summary of the recommendations is at: http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/lords-select/economic-affairs-committee/news/report-publication/; the Report is at: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201314/ldselect/ldeconaf/172/172.pdf.

Fraser Institute Argues the Economic Importance of the Energy Industry

A report released by the right-wing Fraser Institute on May 15 states: “Our examination of Canadian data leads us to conclude that energy use in Canada is not a mere by-product of prosperity, but a limiting factor in growth…policies favouring the abundant availability of energy are important for sustaining strong economic growth, and policies that deliberately limit energy availability will likely have negative macroeconomic consequences.” Read Energy Abundance and Economic Growth at: http://www.fraserinstitute.org/research-news/display.aspx?id=21204. For a critique of the report, see the Broadbent Institute blog by Matthew Patterson of the University of Ottawa, at: http://www.broadbentinstitute.ca/en/blog/economic-freedom-and-politics-environmental-performance.

U.S. Scientists and Generals Sound the Alarm on Climate Change

The landmark National Climate Assessment report was written by 300 experts, guided by a 60-member Federal Advisory Committee, and reviewed by a panel of the National Academy of Sciences. It documents climate changes, makes future projections, and analyses impacts nationally and regionally on seven sectors – human health, water, energy, transportation, agriculture, forests, and ecosystems. The report is available in a variety of formats – go to http://nca2014.globalchange.gov/highlights. On May 14th, the U.S. Center for Naval Analyses and its Military Advisory Board (composed of 16 retired generals and admirals) released a “bipartisan call to action” in the form of its report: National Security and the Accelerating Risks of Climate Change at: http://www.cna.org/sites/default/files/MAB_2014.pdf. The report argues that climate-related events such as flooding, drought and rising sea levels bring population dislocation and food insecurity, and therefore act as “catalysts for instability and conflict”. Importantly for Canadians, they warn that an ice-free Arctic will bring competition for shipping lanes and access to undersea oil deposits – see an article in The Guardian at: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/may/14/climate-change-arctic-security-threat-report?CMP=EMCENVEML1631.

U.S. Makes Progress in Pollution Regulations, Set Back in Energy Efficiency

The bipartisan Shaheen-Portman bill, which would have raised energy efficiency standards for federal buildings and provided tax incentives for energy-efficient homes and commercial buildings, became pegged to the Keystone XL and coal plant issues during election-year political dealings, resulting in its defeat on May 12. See “Energy Bill Caught Up in Keystone XL Dispute” article from the Huffington Post at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/12/energy-bill-keystone_n_5308819.html or “Shaheen Energy Bill to Promote Energy Efficiency Failed” in the New York Times at: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/13/us/politics/bill-to-encourage-energy-efficiency-fails-in-senate.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=0

On April 29th, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the EPA’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR). About 1,000 power plants will now be required to adopt new restrictions on nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide. Information on the EPA’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) is available from the EPA at: http://www.epa.gov/airtransport/CSAPR/ and see also “Justices Back Rule Limiting Coal Pollution” (April 30) in the New York Times at: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/30/us/politics/supreme-court-backs-epa-coal-pollution-rules.html. New coal plant carbon regulations, which are expected to spur carbon trading on the west coast, will be announced on June 2 but still face legal and political challenges from the Republicans, the Chamber of Commerce, utilities, coal companies, and others. See the EPA’s website at: http://www2.epa.gov/carbon-pollution-standards/what-epa-doing#overview and http://www.c2es.org/publications/carbon-pollution-standards-existing-power-plants-issues-options/.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is making headway in other areas, including taking the first step towards regulating the chemicals used in the fracking process. The EPA is considering filing information about the chemicals under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), but has not yet committed to forcing companies to submit data or to actively controlling chemical use. See “EPA Takes First Step Toward Regulating Fracking Chemicals” at Bloomberg News at: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-05-09/epa-considers-requiring-disclosure-of-fracking-chemicals.html.

Bad News for Climate Change in the First Budget of Australia’s Abbott Government

In what is being called the “Backwards Budget” delivered on May 13, the government of Australia continues to dismantle the existing national agencies related to a low-carbon economy. The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) joins the previously announced Climate Change Authority and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation on the chopping block. Funding for the Emissions Reduction Fund is now muddy, and the 3-year old carbon pricing system will be abolished, if government proposals are approved by the Senate in July. See the positions of Australia’s Climate Institute at: http://www.climateinstitute.org.au/, Australia’s coal miners’ union (CFMEU) at: http://cfmeu.com.au/campaigns/national/climate-change or blogs by Alexander White from The Guardian: “Australia’s Extreme Budget Meets Extreme Climate” (May 21) at: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/southern-crossroads/2014/may/21/may-heatwave-budget-2014-abbott-renewable-energy-cuts and “Could Australia Really Dismantle its Carbon Price” (May 26) at: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/southern-crossroads/2014/may/26/carbon-price-abolish-tony-abbott-australia.

Canada’s Oil Economy Through the “Staples” Lens

In 1963, economist Mel Watkins achieved international recognition with the publication of “A Staple Theory of Economic Growth” in the Canadian Journal of Economics and Political Science. To mark the 50th anniversary, the Canadian Centre for Policy Analysis published a collection of essays written by members of Canada’s Progressive Economics Forum, placing Watkins’ ideas in historical and global context. The section “Staple Theory and the Bitumen Boom” is essential reading, as authors Thomas Gunton, Gordon Laxer, Daniel Drache and Jim Stanford use staples theory to discuss the fossil fuel addiction of our economy, its dangerous impact on the broader economy, on cultures, especially Aboriginal culture, and on the environment.

Part 4: “Modern Applications”, includes “The Staple Theory and the Carbon Trap”, by Brendan Haley; “LNG: BC’s Quest for a New Staple Industry” by Marc Lee, and “Staples Theory: Its Gendered Nature” by Marjorie Griffin Cohen, among others. In the final essay in the collection, Mel Watkins writes: “My 1963 article has perhaps encouraged some readers to think too much about linkages and how to enhance them, to focus on incremental change when it is transformative change that is necessary…Fifty years on I have grandchildren, and know that the world must move ASAP from dependence on fossil fuels to reliance on green technologies. This will involve a wrenching change for Canada because bitumen is now the superstaple driving our economy and our polity…These may not be the best of times, and they may well get worse, but there is room for hope if we will but face up to our situation. In Canada, that means escaping both the staple trap and the carbon trap by weaning our­selves from the export of bitumen”.

LINK

The Staple Theory @ 50: Reflections on the Lasting Significance of Mel Watkins’ “A Staple Theory of Economic Growth” is available at: https://www.policyalternatives.ca/sites/default/files/uploads/publications/National%20Office/2014/03/Staple_Theory_at_50.pdf

Canada’s Oil Economy Through the IMF Lens

The International Monetary Fund has weighed in on the economic benefits of oil sands development in Canada, in a background report written in January 2014 but only released in April. Using Input-Output analysis based on 2009 data, the IMF report notes that overall the unconventional oil and gas industry make a small, positive contribution to Canada’s economy: for every $1 invested in the oilsands, Canada’s GDP rises 90 cents – of which 82 cents goes to Alberta. The report states “employment in the energy sector increased by less than 13,000 over 2007-12, against a total 752,000 jobs created over the same period in Canada”. To measure broader spilloever effects across Canada and across industries, the report uses a General Equilibrium Model which takes into account the “infrastructure constraints” – i.e. pipeline and transportation capacity. The report concludes “that the potential output gain for Canada’s energy products would reach only about 2 percent of GDP” over a ten year horizon, and that is conditional on construction of infrastructure (pipelines) for export to non-U.S. markets and for interprovincial energy integration, and if inter-industry linkages are encouraged across Canada to more widely distribute economic benefit.

LINKS

IMF Country Report 14/28: Canada: The Unconventional Energy Boom in North America; Macroeconomic Implications and Challenges for Canada is at: http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/scr/2014/cr1428.pdf

Summary and commentary are at the DeSmog Blog at: http://desmog.ca/2014/04/09/benefits-canadas-energy-boom-remain-energy-sector-alberta-reports-imf, or in an article by Andrew Jackson at the Broadbent Institute at: http://www.pressprogress.ca/en/blog/imf-oil-exports-aren%E2%80%99t-so-key-canada%E2%80%99s-economic-future-after-all

British Columbia Tripartite Working Group Makes Workforce Recommendations for LNG Development in the Face of Environmental Controversy and Public Opinion

Since September 2013, the Premier’s Liquefied Natural Gas Working Group has met to discuss workforce planning, skills training, and the use of temporary workers in LNG projects. Described by the government as “unprecedented”, the working group included representatives from government, industry, the Haisla Nation, and organized labour, specifically: United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 170; B.C. Federation of Labour; B.C. and Yukon Building and Construction Trades Council; B.C. Government and Service Employees Union; Construction and Specialized Workers Union Local 1611; and Sheet Metal Workers International Association Local 280. The Working Group released their final report on March 31st and all fifteen recommendations were accepted by the Premier on April 3rd. Next step: a 10-year skills-training plan. The Terms of Reference did not include the environmental impact of the proposed LNG development and the contention that the LNG production will make it impossible for B.C. to meet its legislated carbon emissions targets.

The Final Report provides an inventory of existing and proposed LNG development in B.C. as of March 2014, as well as analysis of the workforce data and issues as identified by the B.C. Natural Gas Workforce Strategy and Action Plan, released in July 2013 and since updated by the government. Fifteen recommendations include the use of best practices relating to apprenticeship, mobility of labour within B.C. and Canada, and most contentiously, the use of temporary foreign workers. The report calls for the formation no later than July 2014, of an ongoing body which would include government, labour unions, industry and contractors, and First Nations, to participate in workforce planning, skills training, and to develop a protocol for the use of temporary foreign workers, “to limit their use, but also to plan accordingly for their use if and when needed”.

Many First Nations groups oppose LNG development, and a new public opinion survey released on April 24 shows that 78% of British Columbians agree that “B.C. should transition away from using fossil fuels to cleaner sources of energy to prevent climate change from getting worse. More than two thirds (67%) agree the province should decrease its reliance on fossil fuel exports to avoid future boom and bust economic cycles”. The survey was commissioned by the Pembina Institute, Clean Energy Canada and the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions, and conducted by Strategic Communications Inc. in April of 2014.

LINKS

Premier’s Liquefied Natural Gas Working Group: Final Report is available at: http://www.labour.gov.bc.ca/pubs/pdf/lng_final_report.pdf, with a press release and backgrounder from B.C. Premier’s Office at: http://www.newsroom.gov.bc.ca/2014/04/premiers-lng-working-group-recommendation-road-map.html

“Key Native Group in Northern B.C. threatens to Stop Talks on Pipelines” in the Globe and Mail (April 21) at: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/native-group-threatens-to-stop-talks-on-pipelines/article18088799/, but also see “B.C. and First Nations sign first LNG revenue-sharing Agreement, and Backgrounder” at: https://www.newsroom.gov.bc.ca/2014/04/bc-and-first-nations-sign-first-lng-revenue-sharing-agreements.html

Public Opinion Survey is available from the Pembina Institute website at: http://www.pembina.org/pub/2539

See also the BC LNG Info website, maintained by the Northwest Institute, SkeenaWild Conservation Trust, and Headwaters Initiative, with the stated goal of providing impartial, up to date information about the LNG industry in B.C. for the benefit of the community. See http://bclnginfo.com/newsroom for news and updates.

New Brunswick’s Controversial New Forestry Plan Allows for Expanded Cutting on Crown Lands

The New Brunswick government released a new forestry plan in March 2014, following heavy lobbying by the forest industry, led by J.D Irving Ltd. The industry argued that they needed a long-term commitment to access the wood supply from Crown Lands to justify the large capital investment necessary to make New Brunswick mills efficient. The 2014 Strategy for Crown Lands Forest Management increases the amount of softwood (chiefly spruce and fir) that can be harvested from Crown Lands by 20%, and reduces the areas that are off-limits to industrial cutting (including watercourse buffers, deer wintering areas, and old growth forest) from 28% to 23% over a 10-15 year period. The result, according to the government, will be “500 new, well-paid private sector jobs” and “more than $22 million in additional annual wages”. Direct forest sector employment in New Brunswick had fallen 24% and the number of mills had fallen 47% since 2004, according to the government. Since the release, J.D. Irving Ltd. has committed to $513 million in capital investments in its mills, mostly at Irving Pulp & Paper in Saint John.

In response to the March Strategy document, Rino Ouellet, Atlantic area Director for Unifor, issued a press release which echos the government’s economic arguments and endorses the Forestry Plan. In a February press release, he had stated, “…in order for the plan to work, it must include in the process First Nations people, wood lot owners, labour, and crown land rights…and must continue to allow for environmentally-protected areas”.

On another side of this triangular debate, opposition includes: the provincial leader of the Green Party, who calls it “a plan for plunder”; the executive director of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness, who calls it “regressive”; Graham Forbes, a professor from University of New Brunswick, who says it is unsustainable; and Rod Cumberland, a retired government biologist, who says many provincial government scientists are alarmed, but are too afraid to speak out for fear of losing their jobs.

The political storm continues on this issue. On April 24th, the government tabled in the legislature the terms of an agreement with J.D. Irving which increases the company’s annual allocations of softwood, for an initial term of 25 years, beginning on July 1, 2014. The contract calls for the company’s performance to be reviewed every five years, with five-year renewals contingent upon satisfactory performance.

LINKS

Putting Our Resources To Work: A Strategy For Crown Lands Forest Management on the New Brunswick government website at: http://www2.gnb.ca/content/dam/gnb/Departments/nr-rn/pdf/en/ForestsCrownLands/AStrategyForCrownLandsForestManagement.pdf

J.D. Irving press release is at: http://www.newswire.ca/en/story/1335353/new-crown-forest-policy-drives-16-8-million-investments-in-the-forests-mills-and-suppliers-74-jobs-created

Unifor’s March press release: “Atlantic’s Largest Forestry Union applauds Long term plan for Sector” at:

http://www.unifor.org/en/whats-new/press-room/atlantics-largest-forestry-union-applauds-long-term-plan-sector; February press release at: http://www.newswire.ca/en/story/1298929/forestry-plan-much-needed-for-new-brunswick

For Reactions: The Crown Lands Debate, a Feature on the CBC website at: http://www.cbc.ca/nb/features/crownforestrydebate/ including, “Irving clout with Government challenged in wake of Forest Deal” at:http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/irving-clout-with-government-challenged-in-wake-of-forest-deal-1.2572410; and “New Crown Forest Plan slammed by retired Provincial Biologist” at: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/new-crown-forest-plan-slammed-by-retired-provincial-biologist-1.2580430; “New Crown Forestry Plan greeted with Shock, Dismay” at: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/new-crown-forestry-plan-greeted-with-shock-dismay-1.2570803

“J.D. Irving’s Crown Forest Contract Made Public” is at the CBC at:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/j-d-irving-s-crown-forest-contract-made-public-1.2620780

U.K. Union Makes Green Progress on Three Fronts

A new report by the Public and Commercial Services Union of the U.K. outlines how that union is pursuing its green goals on three fronts: greening the union administration and operations through policies regarding energy use, waste reduction, green procurement and staff travel policies; at the workplace, supporting the green representatives through networks and online training; and in the community, through national and local campaigns, for example, against fracking, the Energy Bill Revolution and energy poverty, and through fair trade and trade justice campaigns. The report also summarizes the union’s Green Forum in November 2013, and its new participation in the Trade Unions for Energy Democracy (TUED) network, based at Cornell University’s Global Labor Institute in New York. It will relaunch its One Million Climate Jobs campaign in 2014.

LINKS

Becoming a Greener Union is available from a link at the Public and Commercial Services Union website at:http://www.pcs.org.uk/en/resources/green_workplaces/index.cfm, which also gives a link to the full report and a video from the 2013 Green Forum

Eco-Industries Can Thrive with Supportive Government Policies and a Culture of Innovation

A new report from EU think-tank the Ecologic Institute, prepared for the Greens in the European Parliament, asserts that eco-industries outperformed the broader economy during difficult times, including the 2008 financial crisis. The report examines five European countries since 2008, and compares them to the U.S., China, and Mexico. It states that, while European manufacturers in general fell behind on the global market, manufacturers of environmental goods and services managed to remain competitive. In addition, even when European eco-manufacturing lost out to global competitors like China’s growing solar PV manufacturing sector, European jobs were retained in planning, installation, and maintenance. The resilience of the European eco-industries is attributed partly to rapid innovation, as measured by patent applications. Ecologic also noted that government policy that preserved investor confidence was crucial to maintaining resilient eco-industries.

LINKS

How Crisis-resistant and Competitive are Europe’s Eco-Industries? Is available at: http://www.ecologic.eu/10477

Links to IPCC 5th Assessment Reports, and Reactions

If somehow you missed the release of the two reports from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 5th Assessment, you will find Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaption, and Vulnerability (released March 31st) at:
http://www.ipcc-wg2.gov/AR5/. The second report, Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change (released on April 13th) is available at: http://mitigation2014.org/. The final Synthesis Report is scheduled for release in October 2014. What follows is a series of links to summaries and reaction, especially with a Canadian viewpoint. “UN report highlights urgency of near-term carbon cutting” (April 13) in the Globe and Mail at: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/world-losing-ground-in-climate-battle-says-un-body/article17949953/; “Only with Political Will can we Avoid the Worst” from David Suzuki at: http://www.davidsuzuki.org/blogs/science-matters/2014/04/only-with-political-will-can-we-avoid-the-worst-of-climate-change/; “Dear Fossil Fuel Industry, It’s Over” at the Greenpeace Canada website at: http://www.greenpeace.org/canada/en/Blog/dear-fossil-fuel-industry-its-over/blog/48924/. There was no response from Environment Canada or the Prime Minister’s office.

From the U.S., several items from the New York Times are at: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/01/opinion/climate-signals-growing-louder.html?emc=edit_th_20140401&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=67440933&_r=0, and http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/14/science/earth/un-climate-panel-warns-speedier-action-is-needed-to-avert-disaster.html?emc=edit_th_20140414&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=67440933&_r=0, with a widely cited OpEd on April 17th by Paul Krugman, “Salvation gets Cheap”, at: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/18/opinion/krugman-salvation-gets-cheap.html?_r=0. From the U.K., The Guardian summary of U.K. reaction is at: http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/blog/2014/apr/14/climate-change-report-reactions-to-the-final-instalment-of-the-ipcc-analysis, and a portal to all Guardian coverage of the IPCC reports is at: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/ipcc.

Oil and Gas Sector Contributed Almost One Quarter of Canada’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions

On April 11th, a Friday afternoon, Environment Canada quietly released its annual national greenhouse gas emissions inventory, as required by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). National emissions decreased by 0.3% between 2010 and 2012, but overall trends confirm that Canada is on track to significantly miss its commitment to a 17% decrease by 2020. Most provinces have cut their overall emissions, although Alberta’s have increased by 7% between 2005 and 2012, mainly because the oil sands experienced an 80% emissions increase. The oil sands alone now account for 9% of total Canadian emissions, while the oil and gas sector overall contributes about one quarter.

Signs of progress are emerging in the manufacturing and transportation sectors, and electricity emissions intensity is decreasing, largely attributable to efficiency improvements and the Ontario coal phase-out, which reduced the province’s electricity emissions by 56%.

Reaction from P.J. Partington, an analyst at the Pembina Institute, calls for Canada to make good on its promise to introduce national oil and gas regulations. See National Inventory Report 1990-2012: Greenhouse Gas Sources and Sinks in Canada at the Environment Canada website at: http://www.ec.gc.ca/ges-ghg/default.asp?lang=En&n=3808457C-1&offset=6&toc=show (English version), and http://www.ec.gc.ca/ges-ghg/default.asp?lang=Fr&n=3808457C-1 (French version).

For P.J. Partington’s blogs, go to “Big shiny trends: Canada’s new emissions numbers” at: http://www.pembina.org/blog/789; “Oil Sands Talking Point collides with Reality” at: http://www.pembina.org/blog/787; and “Getting Back in Gear: Oilsands Climate Performance” at: http://www.pembina.org/blog/788. The U.S. released its UNFCC National Inventory documents in the same week, showing that U.S. emissions are now 10% below 2005 levels, the lowest they have been in 20 years. Go to: http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/ghgemissions/usinventoryreport.html.

Canadian Cities Rank High in Climate Change Adaptation – and Some Examples

A newly released survey conducted by the researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology investigates the progress in climate adaptation planning in 468 cities worldwide – 298 of which were in the U.S., 26 were in Canada. Results show that 92% of Canadian cities are pursuing adaptation planning, compared to 68% worldwide, and 59% in the U.S.. The top ranked impacts identified by cities that conducted assessments were: increased stormwater runoff (72%), changes in electricity demand (42%), loss of natural systems (39%), and coastal erosion (36%). Other important issues were loss of economic revenue, drought, and solid waste management. The report, Progress and Challenges in Urban Adaptation Planning: Results of a Global Survey is available at: http://www.icleiusa.org/action-center/learn-from-others/progress-and-challenges-in-urban-climate-adaptation-planning-results-of-a-global-survey, and summarized at: http://www.icleiusa.org/blog/survey_us_cities_report_increase_in_climate_impacts_lag_in_adaptation_planningworldwide-progress-on-urban-climate-adaptation-planning. For a policy perspective, read the David Suzuki blog “Canada’s Success depends on Municipal Infrastructure Investments” (March 13) at: http://www.davidsuzuki.org/blogs/science-matters/2014/03/canadas-success-depends-on-municipal-infrastructure-investments/. For a more anecdotal report which names and describes some innovative Canadian municipalities, see “Five Canadian Communities Fighting Climate Change That You’ve Probably Never Heard of Before” from the DeSmog Blog at: http://www.desmog.ca/2014/04/03/five-canadian-communities-fighting-climate-change-you-ve-probably-never-heard-of-before. It describes Dawson Creek, B.C.; Guelph, Ontario; Varennes, Quebec; T’Sou-ke First Nation, B.C.; and Bridgewater, Nova Scotia. An overview of the Upwind-Downwind Conference of municipalities in Hamilton in March, and a summary of Hamilton’s climate action initiatives, appears in “Ontario Municipalities take Action on Air Quality and Climate Change” at: http://www.alternativesjournal.ca/community/blogs/current-events/ontario-municipalities-take-action-air-quality-and-climate-change.

The Future of Canada’s Electrical System

On March 25, the Canadian Electricity Association (CEA) released Vision 2050: The Future of Canada’s Electricity System, a report which offers recommendations and calls for urgent decisions and action. The report concludes with “Principles for Prudent Investment” which include: reliability, equity (calling for social policies to support ratepayers and protect low income consumers from energy poverty), integration of intermittent sources of electricity (i.e. solar and wind), innovation and modernization of infrastructure, energy efficiency improvements, and the electrification of transportation. See http://www.electricity.ca/resources/publications/vision-2050-the-future-of-canadas-electricity-system.php; See also the Sustainable Electricity Annual Report 2013 at: http://www.sustainableelectricity.ca/media/AnnualReport2013/2013SustainableElectricityAnnualReport.pdf (published August 2013), and Power for the Future: Electricity’s Role in a Canadian Energy Strategy (July 2013) at: http://www.electricity.ca/media/ReportsPublications/PowerForTheFutureElectricityRoleCanadianEnergyStrategyE.pdf.

Investment in Canadian Clean Energy Mirrors Global Trend to Solar Pre-Eminence

Two new reports on investment in clean energy were released in March/April, both showing a global decline in investment levels, and that investment in solar now exceeds wind investment. A report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) shows a 14% decrease in global investment in renewables in 2013, but even so, renewables attracted $192 billion for new capacity and comprised 43.6% of newly installed generation capacity in 2013. The U.S. continues to rank first among developed economies for investment in renewable energy with $33.9 billion in 2013 – although this represents a 10% decrease, largely attributable to the uncertainty over the continuation of the Wind Tax Credit. Japan, Canada and the United Kingdom were the only G-20 countries in which investment increased. Canada ranked 6th amongst the G-20 countries with $6.4 billion investment, largely in wind energy ($3.6 billion) and solar energy ($2.5 billion) in 2013. See “Six Canadian companies shaping the future of clean energy” (March 27) in Globe and Mail Report on Business Magazine at: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/rob-magazine/six-canadian-clean-energy-companies/article17685931/?page=4. To read the Global survey, see Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2014, produced jointly by the Frankfurt School-UNEP Collaborating Centre, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) at: http://www.unep.org/newscentre/Default.aspx?DocumentID=2787&ArticleID=10824&l=en.

A related report was issued by the Pew Charitable Trusts, also utilizing Bloomberg data. Who’s Winning the Clean Energy Race? 2013 Edition contrasts a 16% decline in renewables investment in developed markets of G-20 countries (led by the U.S. and EU) with a growth of 15% in non G-20 countries, led by such countries as Chile and Uruguay. Pew ranks China as the top destination for investors; solar capacity in China increased fourfold in 2013. See Who’s Winning the Clean Energy Race? At: http://www.pewenvironment.org/news-room/press-releases/pew-report-finds-that-global-clean-energy-investment-declined-in-2013-85899543052. See also the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s April 2014 Electricity Monthly Update which shows that U.S. solar capactiy also increased by 418% between 2010 and 2014, as described at: http://cleantechnica.com/2014/04/24/us-solar-energy-capacity-grew-an-astounding-418-from-2010-2014/.

Low-Carbon Solutions to the GTA Gridlock – What Do They Mean for Workers?

A new report from the Pembina Institute and the Toronto Atmospheric Fund presents policy options, innovative ideas, and examples from other countries of strategies that would reduce emissions, chiefly by greening delivery fleets and optimizing trip planning through sophisticated information sharing. Directed at government and business, this report also has implications for workers, particularly those in the transportation and delivery sectors, as well as the warehousing, manufacturing, retail and food services industries.

See Greening the Goods: Opportunities for Low-Carbon Goods Movement in Toronto at: http://www.pembina.org/pub/2536.

Divestment Still a Necessary Strategy as ExxonMobil Reports on Stranded Assets

The largest oil and gas company in the world, ExxonMobil, agreed under pressure from activist shareholders to publish a “Carbon Asset Risk” report on their website, to provide information to shareholders on the risks that stranded assets pose to the company’s business model, and how the company is planning for a low-carbon world. Stranded assets for Exxon are the carbon reserves which would need to remain in the ground if the world were to follow a carbon budget to keep below 2 degrees of global warming.

Some environmentalists are claiming this transparency as a victory – GreenBiz described it as “a pivotal milestone on the road to a low-carbon economy”. Bill McKibben, noting that the Exxon report was released on the same day as the IPCC Report, said it is “probably at least as important in the ongoing battle over the future of the atmosphere”. But McKibben sees “consummate arrogance” in Exxon’s statement that “we are confident that none of our hydrocarbon reserves are now or will become stranded”. For McKibben, the solution remains a divestment campaign – a strategy that Archbishop Desmond Tutu also urged in an April essay in The Guardian.

See “Exxon, Stranded Assets and the New Math” at GreenBiz: http://www.greenbiz.com/blog/2014/03/24/exxon-stranded-assets-and-new-math, and an article in the Wall Street Journal Market Watch at: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/landmark-agreement-with-shareholders-exxonmobil-agrees-to-report-on-climate-change-carbon-asset-risk-2014-03-20. But see also Bill McKibben’s article in The Guardian on April 3rd, “Exxon Mobil’s Response to Climate Change is Consummate Arrogance” at: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/apr/03/exxon-mobil-climate-change-oil-gas-fossil-fuels?CMP=twt_fd&utm_content=bufferfc5c8&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer, and Desmond Tutu, “We Need an Apartheid-style Boycott to Save the Planet” at: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/apr/10/divest-fossil-fuels-climate-change-keystone-xl.

For an overview of Stranded Assets, see Unburnable Carbon: Wasted Capital and Stranded Assets at:
http://www.lse.ac.uk/GranthamInstitute/publications/Policy/docs/PB-unburnable-carbon-2013-wasted-capital-stranded-assets.pdf.

Pipeline News: Kitimat, First Nations Reject Northern Gateway; the Government Downgrades Protection for Humpback Whales

The Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline has encountered new road blocks as communities voice renewed opposition to the project. In Kitimat, residents voted against the pipeline by 60% in a non-binding plebiscite on April 19th. Kitimat might stand to gain the most if the project proceeds, with a promise from Enbridge to bring 180 permanent jobs to the community in addition to indirect opportunities for local contractors and suppliers. The day before the vote, four First Nations from the Yinka Dene, just west of Kitimat, expressed their official opposition to Northern Gateway in a meeting with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, the National Energy Board, and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. The Yinka Dene have already gathered 160 B.C. First Nations behind a petition against the project. Other communities that have previously stated their opposition include Terrace, Prince Rupert, and Smithers.

See “Kitimat Residents Vote ‘No’ in Pipeline Plebiscite” from The Globe and Mail at: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/kitimat-residents-vote-in-northern-gateway-oil-pipeline-plebiscite/article17949815/, “Does Kitimat’s Vote Matter?” In The Tyee at: http://thetyee.ca/News/2014/04/12/Kitimat-Northern-Gateway-Vote/, and “Four Dene clans officially reject Northern Gateway pipeline” from The Globe and Mail at: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/four-dene-clans-officially-reject-northern-gateway-pipeline/article17948468/.

See https://workandclimatechangereport.org/2014/01/28/northern-gateway-headed-to-court-as-neb-approval-provokes-criticism-of-review-process/ for background on the current lawsuits against the Northern Gateway project by First Nations and environmental groups.

Meanwhile, on April 22nd, Environment Canada has recommended that the humpback whale be reclassified, from “threatened” to “species of special concern” under the Species At Risk Act. This would remove legal protection for humpback habitat (which happens to include the British Columbia coast where oil tanker traffic would increase if Northern Gateway is approved, and is part of the basis of a lawsuit launched by EcoJustice and others). See the CBC report at: http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/humpback-whale-losing-threatened-status-amid-northern-gateway-concerns-1.2617633.

National Energy Board Rejects B.C. Academics’ Participation in Transmountain Pipeline Hearings

A public letter sent to the National Post states: “This week, the National Energy Board (NEB) announced plans for its upcoming hearings on the proposal to triple the capacity of Kinder Morgan’s Transmountain Pipeline, which transports oil from Alberta to the Port of Vancouver. The new pipeline alone is expected to lead to 50% more carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions each year than all of British Columbia currently produces. That fact prompted 26 university professors who study climate change to apply to lend our expertise to the NEB’s assessment of whether this project is in the public interest. Every one of us was rejected, because we proposed to talk about climate change…” See the letter at: http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2014/04/10/donner-harrison-hoberg-lets-talk-about-climate-change/; see the NEB website for the Transmountain project at: http://www.neb.gc.ca/clf-nsi/rthnb/pplctnsbfrthnb/trnsmntnxpnsn/trnsmntnxpnsn-eng.html.

Keystone Decision Delayed Again

U.S. President Obama announced on April 18th that he will extend the government comment period on the Keystone XL pipeline until at least the end of May, frustrating Canadian boosters of the project. Read the CBC report at: http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/u-s-to-delay-keystone-xl-decision-1.2615062. Protests against KXL continue in the U.S., the latest including U.S. First Nations – see “Keystone Protesters mark Final Roundup – For Now” in Politico at: http://www.politico.com/story/2014/04/keystone-protesters-mark-final-roundup-for-now-106053.html?ml=la.

U.S. Announces Strategy to Reduce Methane Emissions

On March 28th, the White House released a Strategy to Cut Methane Emissions as part of the overall Climate Action Plan. It includes plans and timetables for research and consultation for agriculture, landfill, coal mining and oil and gas. Re oil and gas, the press release states: “in the fall of 2014, EPA will determine how best to pursue further methane reductions from these sources. If EPA decides to develop additional regulations, it will complete those regulations by the end of 2016”. See the press release and overview at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2014/03/28/strategy-cut-methane-emissions; see the full Strategy Document at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/strategy_to_reduce_methane_emissions_2014-03-28_final.pdf.

Mandatory Emissions Trading Scheme for China

China’s Ministry of Finance has announced a plan to launch a mandatory national emissions trading scheme sometime between 2017 and 2020. The country has chosen seven regions where carbon market pilots will begin in the meantime. Eleven regions across China have been conducting pollution trading pilots since 2007, partly modelled after the EU emissions trading scheme. While pilots to date have focussed on carbon dioxide (CO2), the national scheme is expected to include sulphur dioxide (SO2) and nitrous oxide (NOx) as well. One billion metric tonnes of CO2 will be covered under the pilot programs, smaller only than the EU emissions trading scheme.

See “China aims to launch pollution permit market within 3 years” from Reuters at: http://in.reuters.com/article/2014/03/24/china-pollution-idINL4N0ML1OU20140324. By 2020, China has pledged to cut its greenhouse gas emissions per unit of GDP by 40 to 45 percent from 2005 levels.

Energy East Pipeline: Transporting Crude Oil for Export, not Processing

Contrary to the economic projections put forth by TransCanada Pipeline, a new report released on March 18 contends that the proposed Energy East pipeline will be used primarily as a means to export crude oil, rather than to refine it in Canada.

The Energy East project would convert 3,000 kilometres of existing natural gas pipeline in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario to carry crude oil, and also would build over 1,500 km of new pipelines through Quebec and New Brunswick, with the objectiveenergyeastreport of carrying 1.1 million barrels of crude oil per day. In September 2013, an industry-sponsored report by Deloitte & Touche consultants projected job creation in the order of 10,000 jobs in development and construction, and 1,000 ongoing jobs in the operational phase.

TransCanada’s Energy East Pipeline: For Export, Not Domestic Gain argues that the crude delivered by Energy East would exceed the processing capacity of existing Canadian refineries, given that they also source crude from the U.S., the Newfoundland offshore, and in the future, the newly-approved Line 9 pipeline project. The authors argue that new refineries are unlikely to be built in Canada, and point to TransCanada’s proposed plans for export terminals at Gros Cacouna, Québec (east of Québec City) and Saint John, New Brunswick to prove that the intended purpose of the oil is export.

LINKS

TransCanada’s Energy East Pipeline: For Export, Not Domestic Gain, prepared jointly by the Council of Canadians, Ecology Action Centre, Environmental Defence and Equiterre, is available at: http://www.canadians.org/publications/transcanada%E2%80%99s-energy-east-export-pipeline-not-domestic-gain

CBC summary is at: http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/energy-east-pipeline-benefits-overblown-report-says-1.2576782

Energy East: The Economic Benefits of TransCanada’s Canadian Mainline Conversion Project (Sept. 2013) is on the Deloitte website at: http://www.energyeastpipeline.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Energy-East-Deloitte-Economic-Benefits-Report.pdf

Growth of Canada’s Clean Tech Sector

The fourth annual Canadian Clean Technology Industry Report by private consulting company Analytica Advisors was released on March 6 in Ottawa, stating that the clean-tech industry is “coming of age”. According to the report, the industry is comprised of over 700 Canadian companies which in 2012 generated $5.8 billion in exports, spent $1 billion in research and development, and created 41,100 new jobs across Canada. Twenty percent of the workforce in the sector is 30 years old and under. The survey authors predict that, at current growth rates, “this will become a $28 billion industry by 2022, employing over 75,000”. The clean tech industry has benefited from government investment of $598 million in 246 projects through the Sustainable Technology Development Fund and the NextGen Biofuels Fund, both administered by Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC).

LINKS

Press release re Canadian Clean Technology Industry Report is at: http://analytica-advisors.com/sites/default/files/2014%20Canadian%20Clean%20Technology%20Industry%20Report%20Analytica%20Press%20Release%20March%206th%202014%20SHORT_EN_Final.pdf.

The Table of Contents is at: http://analytica-advisors.com/sites/default/files/CTIR_TOC_2014.pdf, indicating the level of detail of the survey, but the full report is available only for sale at $2,500.

Sustainable Technology Development Canada website is at: http://www.sdtc.ca/index.php?page=alias-3&hl=en_CA (English), and http://www.sdtc.ca/index.php?page=home&hl=fr_CA (French); their Knowledge Centre has an archive of reports on the sector.

Expanding Recycling will bring New Jobs to California

According to a new report from the Tellus Institute, California could create 110,000 jobs if it meets its 2020 goal to recycle 75% of its solid waste. From Waste to Jobs: What Achieving 75 Percent Recycling Means for California is a follow-up to a 2011 report that asserted a 75% recycling rate for the entire U.S. could generate 1.5 million new jobs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 515 million metric tons.

Using recovered materials to create new products and packaging is more labour-intensive than incineration or sending them to the landfill. If California sticks to the 2011 AB 341 bill signed by Governor Jerry Brown, it will increase its solid waste diversion rate from half to three quarters while creating 34,000 jobs in materials collection, 26,000 jobs in materials processing, and 56,000 jobs during the manufacture of products using recycled materials. Plastics recycling is particularly significant, potentially delivering 29,000 new jobs alone. 38,600 indirect jobs could also be created in related sectors, such as equipment and services used by the recycling sector.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), which commissioned the report, recommends encouraging product stewardship and extended producer responsibility programs requiring packaging manufacturers to support the expansion of recycling infrastructure.

LINKS

From Waste to Jobs: What Achieving 75 Percent Recycling Means for California is available at: http://www.nrdc.org/recycling/files/green-jobs-ca-recycling-report.pdf

The 2011 Tellus report More Jobs, Less Pollution is available at: docs.nrdc.org/globalwarming/files/glo_11111401a.pdf

NRDC California Recycling Website is at: http://www.nrdc.org/recycling/green-jobs-ca-recycling.asp

The Importance of New Skills Training for Construction, Managers and all Occupations, in a Low Carbon Europe

Greener Skills and Jobs, a joint publication of the the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), was released at the 2nd Green Skills Forum in Paris in mid-February.

The publication consists of papers presented by policy makers, researchers, experts from international ogreener-skills-and-jobs_9789264208704-enrganisations and academics at the first forum in 2012. With a focus on European experience, the papers are organized into three sections: Gearing up Education for Training and Growth; Enterprise Approaches For a Workforce Fit For a Green Economy; and Integrating Skills Into Local Development Strategies For Green Job Creation.

Beyond the expected overview of the quantity and quality of green jobs in the EU countries and the arguments for the need for labour market flexibility and retraining, the 228-page document also offers detailed and specific chapters, including: “Licensing and certification to increase skills provision and utilisation amongst low-carbon small and medium-sized enterprises in the United Kingdom” (a study of construction trades and the emerging energy efficiency jobs), and “Managerial skills in the green corporation”, which used case study interviews to confirm the importance of three competencies for middle and top managers: change management leadership, collaborative openness, and eco-innovative mindset.
The overall message is that green skills will be needed “in all sectors and at all levels in the workforce as emerging economic activities create new (or renewed) occupations”.

LINKS

Greener Skills and Jobs is available at: http://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/industry-and-services/greener-skills-and-jobs_9789264208704-en (read-only, or download with OECD credentials). It is not yet available in French. Links to all the OECD Green Growth Studies are available at: http://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/fr/environment/oecd-green-growth-studies_22229523

Meeting skill needs for green jobs: Policy recommendations (November 2013) is a related document published by the International Labour Organization, which describes the complex international policy environment related to green vocational education. It was prepared for the G20 Working Group relating to Human Resources Development. It is available at: http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/—ed_emp/—ifp_skills/documents/publication/wcms_234463.pdf

Recommendations for an Equitable Green Growth Architecture

The Green Economy Barometer, released at a U.K. conference in February, outlines the existing structures, organizations and national policies that underlie the green economy, and identifies gaps which may be impeding equitable growth. The report differentiates between green growth, which has focused on attracting investment, and green economy, which requires policy reform to create a more equitable economic system. “A green economy should start where the majority of people are, tackling poverty and helping them to develop their assets and meet their needs and aspirations. So it should actively include the informal economy, small and medium enterprises, and locally owned and run solutions – not just big business”. The paper concludes: “For the shoots of the green economy to grow, mature and replace the current economic system, we need collective action to tackle some of the ‘fault-lines’ that are fragmenting the green economy landscape. We also need urgently to connect the macro objectives of a green economy transition to societal needs and aspirations”.

LINKS

Green Economy Barometer: Who is Doing What Where and Why? by the Green Economy Coalition and the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) is available at: http://pubs.iied.org/pdfs/16573IIIED.pdf

Summary of the report and discussions from the conference are at the International Institute for Environment and Development website at:
http://www.iied.org/support-for-green-economy-surges-crucial-gaps-remain, and a Reuters summary is at: http://www.trust.org/item/20140227105421

Controversial New Water Legislation Introduced in B.C.

The B.C. Government introduced Bill 18, the Water Sustainability Act, on March 11th. It updates the current legislation passed in 1909, and “will bring groundwater into the licensing system, and will expand government’s ability to protect fish and aquatic environments “. See http://engage.gov.bc.ca/watersustainabilityact/ for the legislation and all supporting documents.

In a November 2013 posting during the lengthy consultation phase, the government had outlined how the proposed changes would impact oil and gas development, including a pledge that “in completing the new Act we are looking closely at the Oil and Gas Activities Act and the Environmental Management Act to ensure that surface and groundwater are protected during hydraulic fracturing operations” (see http://engage.gov.bc.ca/watersustainabilityact/2013/11/14/blog-post-6-water-and-oil-gas-development/). Yet on March 19, Western Canada Wilderness Committee and the Sierra Club of B.C. went before the Supreme Court of B.C., alleging that Encana has systematically avoided the current water licensing regulations by applying to the provincial Oil and Gas Commission for repeated “short term” water permits for fracking (see http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/encana-s-water-permits-for-b-c-fracking-illegal-lawsuit-alleges-1.2578788).

The aspect of pricing commercial and industrial water use has been deferred by a period of further consultations; see the consultation paper, Pricing B.C.’s Water, at: http://engage.gov.bc.ca/watersustainabilityact/files/2014/03/Pricing-B.C.s-Water.pdf. Public comments will be accepted until April 8th.

BC Budget Announces Tax on LNG, Silent on Carbon Price

On February 18th, British Columbia tabled a provincial budget that touts its Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) development plans and offers some highly anticipated clarification on the sector’s tax structure.

Proposed taxation will include a 7% levy on the liquefaction process (the most emissions-intensive part of the process), which will take effect after capital costs are recovered. Until then, companies will pay only 1.5%. While companies argue the tax may render B.C. LNG uncompetitive, Sustainable Prosperity argues that the rate will likely be lower in practice. Adding to the confusion over just how much revenue will accrue to the province is uncertainty about future LNG prices, and whether the existing carbon tax will apply.

The budget did not address the expected impacts on B.C.’s emissions reductions wellhead-to-waterline-022014targets. According to Sustainable Prosperity, five proposed LNG plants will emit 73 megatons of carbon alone, along with emissions from fracking, transportation, combustion, and any additional plants. In a new report, the Pembina Institute argues that the jobs and revenue figures published by the government would require five to seven LNG terminals, which it claims could put B.C. LNG emissions on par with oil sands emissions by 2020.

While the budget rolls back public spending overall, it also includes an expansion of the provincial Carbon Neutral Capital Program (CNCP) which will draw the health and post-secondary education sectors into an existing scheme to establish a carbon-neutral school system. CNCP collects $25 per ton of greenhouse gas emissions from participating sectors, which is then invested in low-carbon capital upgrades.

See the B.C. Budget and Fiscal Plan, along with highlights and backgrounders, at: http://bcbudget.gov.bc.ca/2014/default.htm. For reaction, see “Carbon regime missing in action in BC’s new LNG tax regime” from Sustainable Prosperity at: http://www.sustainableprosperity.ca/blogpost87; “B.C. Budget 2014: About that LNG Prosperity Fund” Blog from Marc Lee of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives at: http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/policynote/2014/02/bc-budget-2014-about-lng-prosperity-fund. Also see Wellhead to Waterline: Opportunities to Limit Greenhouse Gas Emissions from B.C.’s Proposed LNG Industry from the Pembina Institute at: http://www.pembina.org/pub/2524.

Nova Scotia Approves LNG Facility at Goldboro, with 40 Conditions

On March 21st, the Nova Scotia Minister of Environment gave his approval for an LNG plant and terminal which the company predicts will create up to 3,500 jobs during its construction and employ 200 full-time workers in the operational phase. The Minister followed the conclusions of a 3-person environmental panel which acknowledged “residual effects” on the environment, including increased greenhouse gas emissions, and damage to local fisheries, but concluded that the economic benefits outweighed these considerations. The project still needs approval by the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board, and a final decision by the company, Pieridae Energy Canada. See the government press release and all documents relating to the project at: http://www.novascotia.ca/nse/ea/goldboro-lng.asp. See a Globe and Mail press report at: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/industry-news/energy-and-resources/nova-scotia-government-gives-conditional-okay-for-lng-plant/article17612971/.

Recommendations for Québec’s Next Energy Policy Emphasize Energy Efficiency, Support Pipelines

A 2-person commission appointed to review energy issues in Québec reported to the government in January 2014, generally recommending a change in direction to emphasize energy efficiency and limit new infrastructure investment. According to a report in the Montreal Gazette on March 2 (http://www.montrealgazette.com/technology/Quebec+needs+energy+course+panel/9570190/story.html), the recommendations included: set a goal of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions by 75 per cent by 2050; study the possibility of suspending phases 3 and 4 of the Romaine River hydroelectric project; stop or suspend wind, cogeneration and small-dam projects that have not yet been built; support TransCanada’s west-east oil pipeline, conditional on study by the province’s environmental review board; support Enbridge’s Line 9B oil pipeline; improve public transit; update the provincial building code to improve the energy efficiency of buildings; and support the construction of a natural-gas pipeline connection to the Gaz Métro network to replace heating oil with natural gas. The Energy Consultation website is at: http://consultationenergie.gouv.qc.ca/english/ (English version), and http://consultationenergie.gouv.qc.ca/ (French version). The report and briefs presented to the Commission are available only in French.

Fisheries in the News: Collaboration is Moving Newfoundland’s Cod Fishery to Sustainability

The Fishery Improvement Project (FIP) on the southern Newfoundland shore announced on March 13th that it has entered full assessment against the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) standard for sustainable and well-managed fisheries.

After the collapse of the cod fishery in the 1990’s, this is an historic milestone, and according to World Wildlife Fund Canada (WWF) President David Miller: “It demonstrates that good management and collaboration can lead to the recovery of cod populations – and that struggling fisheries can once again thrive, not only in Atlantic Canada but across the world”. The recovery of the fishery is indeed the result of extensive collaboration and co-operation- led by Icewater Seafoods Inc. and Ocean Choice International, partnering with WWF (formerly World Wildlife Federation) to manage the FIP, with additional financial support from the Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture, the Resources Legacy Fund, and High Liner. The Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union (FFAW) and Fisheries and Oceans Canada are also cited as key supporters.

Read the press release at WWF at: http://www.wwf.ca/newsroom/?14901/Newfoundland-cod-fishery-announces-milestone-sustainability-assessment. Read about the FFAW Stewardship Program at: http://www.ffaw.nf.ca/?Content=Science_Research/Fisheries_Stewardship_Program, and an overview of the WWF Conservation Program in Atlantic Canada at: http://www.wwf.ca/conservation/oceans/atlantic_canada/.

Commercial Fisheries Still on Hold in the Arctic

Although there is currently no commercial fishing in the Arctic, the rapidly warming waters may allow for one to develop. In 2012, scientists from 67 countries called for a moratorium on such fishing pending more research, to avoid damage to fish stocks. In February 2014, the five Arctic coastal countries – Canada, the United States, Russia, Denmark and Norway – agreed to avoid commercial fishing themselves and to work to include other countries in the agreement. In March, the European Parliament passed a resolution calling for protection of the High Arctic, prohibiting fishing, and prohibiting pollution from ships and oil rigs. See “Canada agrees to work to prevent fishing in High Arctic” on the CBC website at: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/canada-agrees-to-work-to-prevent-fishing-in-high-arctic-1.2554332. As part of its extensive work on ocean conservation, The Pew Charitable Trust provides many studies on the Arctic at: http://www.pewtrusts.org/our_work_detail.aspx?id=606; documents on Ocean Conservation and overfishing are at: http://www.pewtrusts.org/our_work_category.aspx?id=134.

On its 20th Anniversary, Criticism of NAFTA for Environmental, Economic Damage

A new report from the Sierra Club, the Council of Canadians and others, condemns the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) for failing to improve economic and environmental conditions for most Canadian, American, and Mexican citizens.

According to the report, exports from Canada to the U.S. increased by 200 percent from 1994 to 2008, yet wages stagnated. Further, NAFTA contract obligations for oil encouraged development of the oil sands, while alternative energy sectors suffered, and NAFTA restricted Canada’s ability to regulate oil sands emissions. Pollution increased in the U.S. due to growth in dirtier manufacturing sectors, although employment in American manufacturing dropped overall.

In Mexico, small farmers were unable to compete with large-scale, export-oriented intensive agriculture. Many failed in attempts to improve profits by converting carbon-sequestering forest to arable land. While the mining industry in Mexico did enjoy a boom, smallholders lost out to associated industrial pollution. Wages in the maquila manufacturing sector near the U.S. border simultaneously stagnated, even as operations and pollution levels grew.

Other environmental impacts noted by the report include a significant jump in North American greenhouse gas emissions, unsustainable water use, and the rippling effects of NAFTA clauses that provide corporations with legal avenues to challenge environmental regulations, such as Lone Pine Resources’ ongoing lawsuit against Canada over the Québec fracking moratorium (see our previous report at: https://workandclimatechangereport.org/2013/11/22/fracking-company-suing-for-lost-profits-in-quebec/).

See NAFTA: 20 Years of Costs to Communities and the Environment at: http://www.sierraclub.ca/en/main-page/new-report-reveals-environmental-costs-north-american-free-trade-agreement-environmental-d, and “NAFTA Report Warns of Trade Deal Environmental Disasters” from the Huffington Post at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/11/nafta-environment_n_4938556.html.

Capacity for Climate Change Action Diminishes in Canada, Grows in the U.S.

More cuts to Environment Canada were made public with the release of the annual departmental Plans and Priorities document for 2014-2015 in March. Although almost all programs are targeted for reduction, the 69% cut to climate change programs between now and 2016/17 speaks volumes about the current government’s attitude to climate change. See Environment Canada Plans and Priorities 2014-15 document at: https://www.ec.gc.ca/default.asp?lang=En&n=024B8406-1. Read commentary at the Toronto Star at: http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2014/03/12/environment_canada_braces_for_belttightening.html, or at The Tyee at: http://thetyee.ca/News/2014/03/15/Environment-Canada-Cuts/.

Cuts to Statistics Canada are also on the books amidst talk of “alternative data sources”. In contrast, the U.S. White House announced on March 19th that “we are launching the Climate Data Initiative, an ambitious new effort bringing together extensive open government data and design competitions with commitments from the private and philanthropic sectors to develop data-driven planning and resilience tools for local communities….Data from NOAA, NASA, the U.S. Geological Survey, the Department of Defense, and other Federal agencies will be featured on climate.data.gov, a new section within data.gov that opens for business today”. See http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2014/03/19/climate-data-initiative-launches-strong-public-and-private-sector-commitments.