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.

International Meeting Addresses the Role of Labour in Reducing Climate Change

Labour, Climate Change, and Social Struggle was the theme of the international conference in Toronto from November 29 to December 1, organized and hosted by the Work in a Warming World project at York University. The presentations at the 3-day event reflected the participants: trade unionists, academics, and representatives of social justice organizations from Canada, U.S. U.K., EU, Sweden, India, Australia, New Zealand, Africa and Asia. Keynote addresses made by David Miller, former Mayor of Toronto and now CEO and President of the World Wildlife Fund Canada, and Philip Jennings, General Secretary of UNI Global Union, the international union federation which includes 20 million members. The plenary speakers were Hassan Yussuff, Secretary-Treasurer of the Canadian Labour Congress and Chris Tollefson, Professor and Executive Director of the Environmental Law Centre in Victoria, British Columbia. Other union speakers and panellists included representatives from the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Canadian Union of Postal Workers, Public Service Alliance of Canada, British Columbia Federation of Labour, and the Labour Network for Sustainability (U.S.).

Speakers and workshops throughout the conference reflected a healthy balance and respect for both academic research and practical experience in striving for a worker-led strategic response to climate change. A broad range of topics were covered – to name a few: the role of worker capital and pensions funds, greening the built environment, the energy sector, power relationships between the global south and north, the emerging model of climate change law, gender and climate change, and greening the healthcare sector. A constant theme throughout the conference was the crucial leadership role that organized labour can play in the struggle for a sustainable, just economy, and the need for understanding and relationship-building with allies in the environmental movement.

A strategy meeting in Toronto in November brought together just such a gathering of like-minded union and environmental groups of the Green Economy Network: participants included the Council of Canadians, the Polaris Institute, the Climate Action Network, KAIROS, and unions including the Public Service Alliance of Canada, Canadian Union of Public Employees, Unifor and the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE).

LINK 

Labour, Climate Change, and Social Struggle (W3 international conference):  full list of speakers and topics is now available at: http://www.workinawarmingworld.yorku.ca/w3conference/program/program-details/; Papers will be available online in 2014.

Activists Rally around Green Jobs press release (summarizing the Green Economy Network Strategy Meeting) is at the CUPE website at: http://cupe.ca/green-jobs/Rally-green-jobs

Climate@Work Released

PrintReleased in May 2013, Climate@Work, edited by Carla Lipsig Mumme, presents research by members of the Work in a Warming World project (W3). The focus of the book is on the Canadian scene and the current and potential role for workers and unions to contribute to a growing, green economy with good, green jobs. It examines six sectors in detail – construction, energy, transportation equipment, forestry, tourism, and the postal sector. Yet because of the global nature of the climate change struggle, the introductory section sets Canada in international context, looking at the role of international agreements, public policy, and the puzzling silence of English-language scholarly research on climate change and work. See the Fernwood Press website for a summary, list of chapters, and ordering information, at: http://www.fernwoodpublishing.ca/Climate-at-Work/.

NRTEE Documents are Accessible to the Public at W3 Website

At the end of March 2013, government-mandated cutbacks ended the life of the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy (NRTEE), which had provided independent research and analysis about climate change and environmental issues in Canada, and which had published reports monitoring Canada’s progress toward GHG reductions under the Kyoto Protocol.  Despite government efforts to curtail access to the research output of the NRTEE, the W3 project has created an archive of all NRTEE documents since 1987. Go to http://www.workinawarmingworld.yorku.ca/library/  for free access.