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Environmental groups and Unifor agree: 60% emissions reduction goal is Canada’s Fair Share

By Elizabeth Perry - Work and Climate Change Report, May 5, 2021

Towards Canada’s Fair Share is a new report endorsed by seven of Canada’s leading environmental advocacy groups. It was released just before Prime Minister Trudeau’s announcement at the international Climate Summit on April 22-23 that Canada will increase its emissions reduction target to 40 – 45% of 2005 levels by 2030. Although this is an improvement on the target mentioned in Canada’s April 19th federal budget (36% below 2005 levels, it fails to match U.S. President Biden’s announcement of a 50% target, and is far below the more ambitious target proposed in Towards Canada’s Fair Share – a 60% emissions reduction by 2030. The report was based on modelling by EnviroEconomics and Navius, and endorsed by Climate Action Network Canada, Conservation Council of New Brunswick, Ecology Action Centre, Environmental Defence, Equiterre, Stand, and West Coast Environmental Law.

A recent CBC report, “Union representing energy workers backs stronger emissions cuts — as long as there’s a transition plan” ( April 27), states that Unifor agrees with the Fair Share target of 60% by 2030 – “provided the right framework is in place to help its 12,000 members move out of the oil and gas sector.” The CBC quotes Unifor representative Joie Warnock: “Our members in the energy sector have a lot to say about the path to decarbonization. The pathway to a lower carbon economy goes directly through their livelihoods, through their lives, through their communities,…..We’re very concerned that the government hasn’t done the work to plan for a just transition.” The union accepts that an energy transition is underway, and is working to “get in front of it” – and not only for its members in the oil fields, but also for members in the auto industry, facing the transformation to electric vehicles.

Climate Stability, Worker Stability: are they compatible?

By Dr. Louise Comeau, JD, PhD and Devin Luke - Adapting Canadian Work and Workplaces to Respond to Climate Change, December 3, 2018

It appears we face a low- carbon transition dilemma. On the one hand, climate change solutions, like greenhouse gas regulation and carbon pricing, raise concerns about potential job displacement for workers in traditional energy sectors like oil and gas production and fossil-fuel generated electricity. Hence the calls for just transition. Our research, however, suggests that this blame may be at least partially misplaced. Energy workforce changes are currently affected by broader societal changes relating to fuel-cost differentials (i.e., natural gas cheaper than coal), automation, and the societal transition to non-unionized, unstable and lower-paying work. Greenhouse gas regulations and carbon pricing are certainly not the only driver of workforce change, and likely not, at least currently, not the primary driver.

Should proponents of renewable energy, energy efficiency and the low-carbon transition address these broader societal trends? If so, how? Is the solution to focus on collective responses such as energy cooperatives, public sector ownership of renewable energy supply, utility-scale and managed energy efficiency programs, rather than market- based, privatized solutions? These questions are worth answering. Our goal with this study was to better understand the training needs associated with renewable energy and energy efficiency job projections. There appears, however, to be a greater need to better integrate climate change and low-carbon economy discussions into a broader discourse on the nature of work.

Read the report (PDF).

(Preliminary) Workers' Climate Plan

By Lliam Hildebrand, et. al. - Iron and Earth, September 2016

Iron & Earth, a Canadian non-profit organization led by skilled trades workers with experience in Canada’s oil industry, is developing a Workers’ Climate Plan. This preliminary report describes how Canadacan become a leader in renewable energy, and a net exporter of renewable energy products, services and technology, by harnessing the industrial trade skills of current energy sector workers. A growing number of oil and gas trades people support a transition to renewable energy so long as it provides a just transition for current energy sector workers. By utilising Canada’s existing energy sector workforce, organizations and infrastructure, Canada can accelerate the transition to renewable energy, decrease the cost, and make Canada’s renewable energy sector globally competitive.

Throughout September and October, Iron & Earth will continue to reach out to energy sector workers over the phone and in person to speak about the Workers’ Climate Plan in more detail. Iron & Earth is consulting with a range of energy sectors take holders in partner ship with the Alberta-based EnergyFutures Lab in order to devise a set of recommendations based on worker demands. This will informan expanded Workers’ Climate Plan which we will release in November 2016 ahead of The 22nd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 22). In this preliminary, abridged version of the Workers' Climate Plan, we share insights from current energy sector workers for the consideration of the Working Group on Clean Technology, Innovation and Jobs, as they compile their reports for the ministerial tables in September 2016.

Read the report (PDF).

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