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”. 

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.

 

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.

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.

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.