Public opinion polls: on carbon tax, pipelines, and a growing fear of climate change around the world

On February 8, Clean Energy Canada released results from an online survey of 2,500 Canadian adults, conducted by Abacus Data. Across Canada, 35% support a federal carbon tax, 37% say they are open to considering it, and 28% oppose it  – with the highest opposition from Alberta (41%). When told that revenues would be rebated to households (the ford and carbon tax infographicCarbon Incentive Plan),  support climbed by 9 points – and even more in Alberta. Asked if they agreed with  Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s statement that a carbon tax will bring a recession, 64% of Canadians  and 63% of Ontarians disagreed – and when asked a follow-up question asserting that many economists disagree with Premier Ford, 74% of Canadians and 73% of Ontarians stated they would trust the economists over the Premier.

The Angus Reid Institute  has tracked opinion about a carbon tax in Canada since April 2015, and are due to release new survey results in winter 2019 . Their online survey conducted in October 2018 (just after the announcement of the federal Carbon Incentive plan), showed that support for a carbon tax had increased nationally  from 43% in July 2018 to 54% in October.  The leading cause of opposition to the carbon plan is the sense that it is a “tax grab”, followed by the opinion that it will not help reduce emissions. Also notably, “six-in-ten Canadians say they do not trust information about climate change from their provincial government – with  only 24% of Manitobans  trusting their government.  Who do Canadians trust on this issue?  78% trust university scientists; 56% trust “international organizations doing work in this field”.

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From Angus Reid Institute, “Duelling realities” poll

Other recent Angus Reid analysis of Canadians’ overall attitudes on climate change was released on November 30 in “Dueling realities? Age, political ideology divide Canadians over cause & threat of climate change”.   Only 9% of Canadians do NOT perceive climate change as a threat, with 55% of 18 to 34-year-olds  said they believe climate change to be a very serious threat.  Yet  a survey  released in January 2019, “Six-in-ten Canadians say lack of new pipeline capacity represents a crisis in this country” details the polarized opinions about oil pipelines, showing that 53% of Canadians surveyed support both the Energy East and TransMountain pipeline projects, and  six-in-ten say the lack of new pipeline capacity constitutes a “crisis”. Opinions are divided by region, ranging from 87% in Alberta and 74% in Saskatchewan seeing a crisis, versus 40% in Quebec.

Opinion in the United States:  Results from the December 2018 national survey, Climate Change in the American Mind ,  reveal that 46% of Americans polled have personally experienced the effects of global warming, and a majority are worried about harm from extreme events in their local area –  including extreme heat (61%), flooding (61%), droughts (58%), and/or water shortages (51%).  This longstanding survey (since 2013) is conducted by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication. It also updates the results in the series, “Global Warming’s Six Americas” , which categorizes attitudes from  “Alarmed”, to “Concerned”, all the way to “Doubtful” and “Dismissive” –  showing that in December 2018, the “Alarmed” segment is at an all-time high of 29% , while the “Dismissive” and “Doubtful” responses have declined to only 9%.  The full report   also includes responses concerning emotional responses to global warming, perceived risks, and personal and  social engagement – which includes such questions as “How much of an effort do your family and friends make to reduce global warming?”

Australian women are re-considering having children:  A survey released in February by the Australian Conservation Foundation and the  1 Million Women organization reports on climate change attitudes of Australian women, in the lead-up to the country’s federal election in 2019.  Of the 6514 Australian women who responded to the survey between September – October 2018, nearly 90% are extremely concerned about climate change.  Again, concern is highest in the under-30 bracket, where  one in three are so worried about what global warming that they are reconsidering having children.  A four page summary of survey results is here 

Finally, international attitudes are reflected in a survey published in February by Pew Research Center:  “Climate Change Still Seen as the Top Global Threat, but Cyberattacks a Rising Concern”.   This top-level survey of 26 countries shows that climate change was perceived as the most important threat in 13 countries:  including Canada,   Germany, Greece, Hungary, Spain, Sweden, U.K., Australia, South Korea, Kenya, Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico.  In the U.S., the top threat was seen to be cyberattacks from other countries (74%), followed by attacks from ISIS (62%). Global climate change was the third-ranked threat at 59% .

Low-wage workers, Women, and Migrant workers will suffer most from Climate change-induced heat

Climate Change and Labour: Impacts of Heat in the Workplace   identifies heavy labour and low-skill agricultural and manufacturing jobs as the most susceptible to heat changes caused by climate change.  India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Cambodia, Nigeria, Burkina Faso and part of West Africa are the countries most at risk. Quoting the IPCC’s 5th Assessment Report, it states that “labour productivity impacts could result in output reductions in affected sectors exceeding 20% during the second half of the century–the global economic cost of reduced productivity may be more than 2 trillion USD by 2030.” Even if countries meet their Paris emissions reductions targets, rising temperatures may cut up to 10 percent of the daytime working hours in developing countries.

On the human scale, the authors surveyed more than 100 studies in the last decade which document the health risks and labour productivity loss experienced by workers in hot locations- most recently, 2016 studies from India which concluded that 87% of workers experience health problems during the hottest 3 months, and which highlighted additional problems for pregnant women workers and migrant workers.

Several important indirect effects of heat stress include: alteration of work hours to avoid the heat of the day; the need to work longer hours to earn the same pay for those whose productivity falls due to heat stress, or suffer income loss; increased exposure to hazardous chemicals when workplace chemicals evaporate more quickly in higher temperatures; and possible exposure to new vector-borne diseases.  The report calls for protection for workers , including low cost measures such as assured access to drinking water in workplaces, frequent rest breaks, and management of output targets, incorporating  protection of income and other conditions of Decent Work.

At the regulatory level,  the most relevant standard cited was adopted by the ILO in November 2015:  “Guidelines for a just transition towards environmentally sustainable economies and societies for all”,    which includes occupational safety and health and social protection policies which call on social partners “to conduct assessments of increased or new OSH risks resulting from climate change; improve, adapt or develop and create awareness of OSH standards for technologies and work processes related to the transition; and review policies concerning the protection of workers.”

The report was as a joint effort coordinated by the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF), supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Secretariat and in partnership with the International Labour Organization (ILO), UNI Global Union (UNI), the International Organization of Employers (IOE), the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the NGO network ACT Alliance. See The Guardian for a summary .

New Gender Analysis of Green Jobs in the U.S. Shows Women Under-Represented

On April 2, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) in Washington D.C. published the first analysis of gender distribution of green jobs in America. The report concludes that women are underrepresented in the green economy (holding only 29.5% of green jobs, vs. a 48% participation rate in the general labour force). There are large variations across the country: ranging from a 4% gap in Washington, D.C. to a 24% gap in Maine. The pattern in the overall economy is expected to continue since the fastest-growing green jobs are those traditionally held my men, such as HVAC technicians and electricians. The good news is that the gender wage gap is lower in the green economy than in the overall economy, (18% versus 22% in 2010). The lead author of this study is Ariane Hegewisch ; the President of the IWPR is Heidi Hartmann. The report used data from the U.S. Department of Labor Green Goods and Services Survey and the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey 2008-2010, as well as the Clean Economy database maintained at the Brookings Institute. The report is the first in a series that will be funded by a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation’s Sustainable Employment in a Green US Economy (SEGUE) Program. Future reports will address good practices in workforce development for women in the green economy.

LINKS 

Quality Employment for Women in the Green Economy: Industry, Occupation, and State-by-State Job Estimates, is available from a link at:http://www.iwpr.org/publications/pubs/quality-employment-for-women-in-the-green-economy-industry-occupation-and-state-by-state-job-estimates

Overviews of Green Jobs, Skills, and Social Dialogue in Europe and South Africa

Two new reports were released by SustainLabour in February. The first, Green Jobs and Related Policy Frameworks: an Overview of the European Union provides detailed employment data by sector, subsectors, and countries across Europe -estimating that there are about 7,360,000 jobs in the 27 EU countries in green sectors (renewable energies, energy efficiency, retrofitting, organic agriculture, waste management and green transportation.) The report discusses the quality of green jobs, skills development, and gender differences in green job creation. It describes the social dialogue between employer associations and trade unions with European and national examples, and discusses the current major policy instruments, including the Lisbon Strategy, Europe 2020, the European Economic Recovery Plan and national Economic strategies, and Roadmaps 2050 for a Resource Efficient Europe. An extensive bibliography is included.

A South African overview report analysing national policies was posted to the Sustainlabour website but has been removed, and replaced by briefer presentations from February meetings in Johannesburg.  The meetings and report are part of the “Social Dialogue for Green and Decent Jobs. South Africa-European Dialogue on Just Transition”, a collaboration of Sustainlabour with COSATU (South African Trade Union Congress) and the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) and funded by the European Union.  In South Africa, with an unemployment rate of 25%, the green economy is seen as a major source of job creation; the New Growth Path policy statement of 2011 included a Green Economy Accord, signed by government, business and trade unions and other civil society organizations.

LINKS

Green Jobs and Related Policy Frameworks: an Overview of the European Union is available at: http://www.sustainlabour.org/documentos/Green%20and%20decent%20jobs-%20An%20Overview%20from%20Europe.pdf

Sustainlabour European Union-South Africa Dialogue on Green Jobs and Just Dialogue on Green Jobs and Just Transition Presentation from 20 February 2013 (comparative summary) is available at: http://www.sustainlabour.org/documentos/Ana%20Sanchez-%20EU-SA%20green%20jobs%20Nairobi.pdf