Vancouver approves Climate Emergency Action Plan and promises a Climate Justice Charter

On November 17, Vancouver City Council approved a Climate Emergency Action Plan, a roadmap for the city to cut carbon emissions by 50% by 2030, with a focus on  the biggest local sources – fossil fuels use in vehicles (39% of city emissions) and in buildings (54%). According to the official Summary, goals for 2030 include 50% of the km driven on Vancouver’s roads to be by zero emissions vehicles, and 40% less embodied emissions from new buildings and construction projects compared to 2018. The plan will cost $500 million over the next five years, according to reporting from Business in Vancouver .

Detailed documentation is available here , and the 318-page staff proposal presented to City Council on November 3rd is here . As reported by Business in Vancouver  and  The Georgia Straight , all 19 action items proposed by staff did not survive debate. The most contentious issues related to plans for a “walkable city” and a proposal for congestion pricing for the city centre. Staff were directed to prepare a report for Council by 2022 on that issue. The Georgia Straight  reproduces all the motions from the debate, indicating next steps, and how the final approved plan differs from the staff proposals.

Consultation process included a Climate and Equity Working Group

The Climate Emergency Action Plan drew on a citizen consultation process, described in detail in the staff  proposal document .  One of the key features of the consultation process:  a Climate and Equity Working Group (as described in Appendix N at page 251) which included “a rich mix of perspectives including new immigrants, people with disabilities, people with low income, urban Indigenous. The majority of participants were racialized people.” However, the report also notes that the process lacked voices from some Indigenous nations, as well as seniors, youth LGBTQ2+ community, and  “While the majority of participants were women, there was no voice specific to gender equity. These gaps need to be addressed in future engagement as part of implementation work and in the reformation of the Climate and Equity Working Group.” The Emergency Action Plan approved by Council on November 17 promises:  “Our equity work on climate policies and programs will be shaped by the forthcoming Climate Justice Charter, the Equity Framework, the Reconciliation Framework, the Healthy City Strategy, Vancouver’s Housing Strategy, and the Women’s Equity Strategy.”

Marjorie Griffin Cohen, author of “Climate Change and Gender in Rich Countries”, awarded the Charles Taylor Prize

Marjorie Griffin Cohen, Professor Emeritus at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, was awarded  the 2020 Charles Taylor Prize for Excellence in Policy Research, as announced on May 28.  Marjorie’s research has focused on the intersection of gender and sexuality issues, as well as climate and labour policy.  Amongst her many publications, Marjorie authored “Does Gender Matter in the Political Economy of Work and Climate Justice?”  in 2011 as part of the Work in a Warming World research project, the predecessor to the Adapting Canadian Work and Workplaces project.  Along with John Calvert, she also authored “Climate Change and Labour in the Energy Sector”, as a Gender book coverchapter in  Climate@Work  in 2013. In 2017, Marjorie edited the path-breaking Climate Change and Gender in Rich Countries, published by Routledge.

Over her career, Marjorie has served on several boards and commissions in British Columbia, including as the first Chair of the B.C. chapter of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives in B.C. (which she helped to establish).  The Charles Taylor Prize, normally awarded at the Broadbent Institute Progress Summit, could not be delivered in person, but Marjorie’s acceptance speech is available on YouTube .  In it, she discusses her work as the Chair of the B.C. Fair Wages Commission from 2017-2018, which contributed directly to the  increase in the provincial minimum wage to $15 per hour.

Notably, the same YouTube video  also includes a speech by Catherine Abreu, Executive Director of Climate Action Network – Canada, who was awarded the 2020 Jack Layton Progress Prize for her international leadership on climate policy and action.

Both awards represent welcome recognition of the increasing importance of climate change research in public policy.

New podcast series celebrates women fighting climate change

MothersOfInvention_PressShot_11A new, optimistic initiative called Mothers of Invention  was launched in July, led by Mary Robinson, former Prime Minister of Ireland and a well-known climate justice campaigner. Maeve Higgins, an Irish-born comedian is her  “sidekick” in a series of podcasts designed to celebrate “ amazing women doing remarkable things in pursuit of climate justice.”  Through lighthearted, informal conversations, the podcasts educate and inspire with stories of local climate activists – initially focusing on women only, but eventually planned to include men as well.  The clear purpose is to motivate individuals with positive examples, rather than a climate change “doom and gloom” message.

Episode 1, All Rise ,  explores the issue of global climate litigation through interviews with Tessa Khan, Co-Founder of the Global Climate Litigation network ; Marjan Minnesma, Director of the Urgenda Foundation which launched the world’s first climate liability lawsuit in the Netherlands; and Kelsey Juliana, Victoria Barrett & Ridhima Pandey – young plaintiffs from the U.S. and India who are supported in  lawsuits against their own governments by the Our Children’s Foundation. Each episode consists of the podcast interviews and discussion, with links for more information, more involvement, and  a chance to donate.

The line up of future “Mothers”   includes activists from around the world who have focused on land protection, zero waste, fossil fuel divestment, energy poverty, plastic pollution, and environmental racism. The initiative is profiled in The Guardian in “Mary Robinson launches new feminist fight against climate change” (July 24).

 

U.S. energy employment report: statistics by gender, age, race, and union status

USEER May 2018 reportThe 2018 U.S. Energy & Employment Report (USEER) was released in May, reporting that the traditional Energy and Energy Efficiency sectors employ approximately 6.5 million Americans, with a job growth rate of approximately 133,000 net new jobs in 2017 – approximately 7% of total U.S. new job growth.   The report provides detailed employment data for energy sectors including Electric Power Generation and Fuels Production (including biofuels, solar, wind, hydro and nuclear) and Electricity Transmission, Distribution and Storage. It also includes two energy end-use sectors: Energy Efficiency and Motor Vehicle production (including alternative fuel vehicles and parts production).  It is important to note that, unlike many other sources, this survey includes only direct jobs, and not indirect and induced jobs.

In addition to overall employment totals, the report provides an in-depth view of the hiring difficulty, in-demand occupations, and demographic composition of the workforce – including breakdowns by gender, age, race and by union composition.  As an example for solar electric power generation: “about a third of the solar workforce in 2017 was female, roughly two in ten workers are Hispanic or Latino, and under one in ten are Asian or are Black or African American. In 2017, solar projects involving PV technologies had a higher concentration of workers aged 55 and over, compared to CSP technologies.”

The previous USEER reports for 2016  and 2017  were compiled and published by the U.S. Department of Energy.  In 2018, under the Trump Administration, two non-profit organizations,  the National Association of State Energy Officials and the Energy Futures Initiative, took over the task of compiling the data, using the identical survey instrument developed by the DOE.  Timing was coordinated so that year over year comparisons with the precious surveys are possible.  Peer review of the report was performed by Robert Pollin, (Political Economy Research Institute) and  James Barrett, (Visiting Fellow, American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy).  The overview website, with free data tables at the state level, is here   .

Gender equity practices needed in the Canada’s renewable energy sector

A new report argues that Canada’s renewable energy and aligned “climate prosperity” initiatives are perpetuating employment and income inequities for women in Canada, and calls for the renewable energy sector–a major area of action on climate change–to incorporate gender equity practices in workforce training, hiring, and management.  Women and Climate Change Impacts and Action in Canada: Feminist, Indigenous and Intersectional Perspectives  states that in countries such as Canada, United States, Spain, Germany, and Italy, women hold only 20-25% of jobs in the sector, and the vast majority of these jobs are lower paid, non-technical, administrative and public relations positions.   Further, while women  face social-economic barriers that leave them bearing the brunt of climate change impacts, they are  denied a role in developing policies and programs to mitigate climate change.  Women and Climate Change Impacts and Action in Canada makes a unique contribution in examining the roles and knowledge of  Indigenous women, and calls for solidarity across women’s groups to advance the paradigm shifts necessary to achieve gender mainstreaming and climate justice in Canada.   The report was produced in collaboration between the Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women and the Alliance for Intergenerational Resilience, with financial support from Work in a Warming World (W3) Project, partnered with Adapting Canadian Work and Workplaces to Respond to Climate Change Project (ACW). A summary of the findings is at the ACW website; the full report is archived in the ACW Digital Library here.

More on this topic:  Creating and Optimizing Employment Opportunities for Women in the Clean Energy Sector in Canada  (2016) is an informal  working paper/knowledge synthesis by Bipasha Baruah, Canada Research Chair in Global Women’s Issues at Western University.  She states that “The conversation about gender equity or social justice (more broadly) in Canada’s green economy is at best incipient and tokenistic” , and calls for specific employment equity policies as well as a shift in societal attitudes. The article documents the same underrepresentation of women in the renewable energy industry, and argues that Canada lags other OECD countries in data collection and analysis, and policy initiatives.  “Renewable inequity? Women ’s employment in clean energy in industrialized, emerging and developing economies” is a more formal article by Baruah which appeared in Natural Resources Forum (2017).  The 2017 volume  Climate Change and Gender in Rich Countries: Work, Public Policy and Action, edited by Marjorie Griffin Cohen, offers a still broader look at the issue of gender and climate change.

Why gender matters when dealing with climate change

Gender book coverClimate Change and Gender in Rich Countries:  Work, Public Policy and Action is a new book released in London by Routledge publishers, as part of its Studies in Climate, Work and Society series.  Reviewers call it “path-breaking”,”timely”, “exciting”,  “unique”, “excellent and wide-ranging”  and judge that it “moves beyond common perceptions of women as vulnerable victims to show there are no universal experiences of climate change. Gender is highly relevant but in complex ways.”

Editor Marjorie Griffin Cohen introduces the book by answering the question,Why Gender Matters when Dealing with Climate Change”.  18 chapters follow,  providing analysis and case studies from the U.K., Sweden, Australia, Canada, Spain and the U.S..  Some of the  chapters are: “ Women and Low Energy Construction in Europe: A New Opportunity?” by  Linda Clarke, Colin Gleeson and Christine Wall; “The US Example of Integrating Gender and Climate Change in Training: Response to the 2008–09 Recession”,  by  Marjorie Griffin Cohen; “UK Environmental and Trade Union Groups’ Struggles to Integrate Gender Issues into Climate Change Analysis and Activism”,  by  Carl Mandy; and “How a Gendered Understanding of Climate Change Can Help Shape Canadian Climate Policy”,  by  Nathalie Chalifour.

The book editor, Marjorie Griffin Cohen , is Professor Emeritus of Political Science and Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, and a Co-Investigator at the Adapting Canadian Work and Workplaces to Climate Change project (ACW).  She was also an editor of “Women and Work in a Warming World (W4) ”  which appeared as Issue 94/95 in Women & Environments International Magazine  (2014/15).

The Green Economy includes Women and the Services Sector

A newly-released Special Issue of Women and Environments International Magazine (Winter 2014/2015) is devoted to Women and Work in a Warming World (W4) . Co-editors Marjorie Griffin Cohen and Patricia Perkins state: “it is crucial that governments and policy makers (and even environmentalists) broaden the view of what would constitute a ‘green economy’ to include a greater emphasis on care work and the services sectors. This would shift the typical policy focus from an emphasis on cleaning up dirty industries (which of course needs to be done), to including and promoting a more rational society designed to meet people’s fundamental needs: physical, political and social well-being. If a ‘green economy’ meant not just cleaner energy and transportation, but structural sustainability, women’s work would be clearly situated as central in bringing about this transition.” The issue articles include “Opportunities and Constraints for Women in the Renewable Energy Sector in India”, “Gender in Government Actions on Climate Change and Work: the U.S. example”, “Are There Jobs for Women in Green Job Creation?” (re Canada), and “Women and Low Energy Construction in Europe: A New Opportunity?”.

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.

Advancing the Role of Women in Ontario’s Renewable Energy Sector

Women in Renewable Energy (WiRE) is a new group, launched at the 2013 CanWEA conference, with the aim to highlight, enhance, and expand the role of women in the renewable energy sector in Ontario. WiRE is taking over from the Greater Toronto Chapter of Women of Wind Energy (WoWE) and is led by women working in diverse sectors of the clean energy economy, including the engineering, legal, insurance, technology, environmental assessment and services, permitting, project and business development fields. WiRE focuses on advancing the knowledge base and professional development of its members and conducting community outreach.

Future initiatives will likely involve connecting women who work in the sector with students and others not currently involved in renewable energy. Related organizations worldwide include: Women in Renewable Energy Scotland and Women in Renewable Energy Hawaii. WoWE also continues to connect women working in wind energy through local chapters across North America.

See Women in Renewable Energy website at: http://womeninrenewableenergy.ca/; “New Ontario Organization is Advancing the Role of Women in Renewable Energy” Blog post at the Alternatives Journal website at: http://www.alternativesjournal.ca/community/blogs/renewable-energy/new-ontario-organization-advancing-role-women-renewable-energy.

Women of Wind Energy website is at: http://www.womenofwindenergy.org/;Women in Renewable Energy Scotland website is at: www.wirescotland.com/; Hawaii Women in Renewable Energy website is available at: http://hawaiiwire.org/.

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

How Sustainable are the Supply Chains of Multinatonal Food Companies?

Oxfam America released Behind the Brands on February 25th, the most recent update to their GROW campaign, which seeks to increase the transparency and accountability of the “Big 10” food and beverage companies in the world. The report is a scorecard which examines company policies in seven topics critical to sustainable agricultural production: women, small-scale farmers, farm workers, water, land, climate change, and transparency. Nestlé and Unilever scored highest for their policies; Associated British Foods (ABF) and Kellogg ranked at the bottom. The other companies measured were: Coca-Cola, Danone, General Mills, Mars, Mondelez International (previously Kraft Foods), and PepsiCo. Read Behind the Brands at: http://www.oxfamamerica.org/files/behind-the-brands-briefing-paper-final.pdf