Who is included in a Just Transition?

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Who is included in a Just Transition?
Considering social equity in Canada’s shift to a zero-carbon economy

By Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood and Zaee Deshpande

 

This report investigates whether the emerging policy consensus on just transition is consistent with the principles of social justice and equity more broadly. Rather than discuss the necessity of a just transition to a zero-carbon economy in Canada, this report is specifically concerned with the question of whether a just transition, as it is currently being pursued at the policy level, truly achieves justice for all workers by redressing inequities or, at a minimum, by not exacerbating them. In this sense, we expand the scope of the just transition discourse beyond the current mainstream understanding of the term. The report concludes that a truly just transition should address and incorporate social equity from the outset.

 

 

This study was co-published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and the Adapting Canadian Work and Workplaces to Respond to Climate Change research program (ACW), a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) Partnership Grant project based at York University’s Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies

 

Download the Full Report (PDF)

 

Heating Up, Backing Down: Evaluating recent climate policy progress in Canada

by Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood
Senior Researcher, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA)

June 13, 2019

 

As Canadians from coast to coast to coast grapple with record-breaking wildfires, floods and other extreme weather events, a new report finds that many Canadian governments—at both the federal and provincial level—are moving in the wrong direction on climate policy.

The study, co-published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) and the Adapting Canadian Work and Workplaces to Respond to Climate Change research program (ACW), assesses the climate policy progress of Canadian governments over the past two years with respect to long-term greenhouse gas emission reductions.

“Overall, Canada’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to a changing climate are less comprehensive and less ambitious than even two years ago,” says report author and CCPA senior researcher Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood. “Many governments have failed to follow through on earlier promises and some have backtracked on climate policies already put in place.”

Among its findings, the report identifies two growing threats to climate policy progress in Canada:

  • A narrow public debate over carbon pricing is eroding political will for a more comprehensive climate policy approach. There are many other policies that are less controversial and can be just as effective at reducing emissions.
  • Canadian governments have been unwilling to introduce supply-side energy policies designed to restrict the production of fossil fuels, even though keeping much of our oil and gas in the ground is necessary to avoid the worst effects of global climate breakdown.

The report concludes that positive progress in provinces like British Columbia and Quebec over the past few years is outweighed by backsliding in other provinces. The new governments in Alberta and Ontario—Canada’s two biggest carbon polluters—have reversed the climate policies of previous governments, which puts Canada’s already-unlikely national targets even further at risk.

 

Download the Full Report (PDF)

Who Deserves a Just Transition?

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In a new article published by Medium.com, international trade and climate policy researcher Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood says deciding who is included in the Just Transition conversation is a more complicated question than it first appears.

If a productive, equitable outcome for all workers is the goal of a Just Transition, then we must look beyond the immediate impacts on fossil fuel workers and consider who else may be vulnerable. Failing to put equity considerations first can result in Just Transition policies that ignore the people most in need of support.

As governments increasingly take up the Just Transition cause and start putting money into social projects and programmes, these equity considerations need to be put at the forefront of the conversation.

Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood (@hadrianmk) is a researcher at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and a contributor to Adapting Canadian Work and Workplaces to Respond to Climate Change.

 

Read more on Medium.com

 

 

200,000 High-Carbon Workers Face a “Terminal Decline” Without Federal Support

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People living and working in Canada’s high-carbon oil, gas and coal towns are worried about the impact of moving to a zero-carbon economy will have on their livelihoods – and for good reason.

According to a column published in the Hill Times by researcher Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood, hundreds of thousands of Canadians face a “terminal decline” as Canadian governments ramp up their climate policy ambitions.

“At the extreme, nearly the entire economy of Fort McMurray, Alta., is directly tied to the oil industry, including one in every three jobs,” writes Mertins-Kirkwood. “Canada’s social safety system isn’t robust enough to support a ‘just and fair transition’ to the clean economy for all workers, leaving fossil fuel-dependent communities at risk.”

In his new report titled “Making decarbonization work for workers: Policies for a just transition to a zero-carbon economy in Canada,” co-published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and the Adapting Canadian Work and Workplaces project (ACW), Mertins-Kirkwood shows potentially affected fossil fuel workers are not limited to Alberta. From Fort St. John B.C., to Bay Roberts, N.L., there are communities across the country with deep dependence on the fossil fuel industry, “And they are vulnerable,” he warns.

Communities concerned about the need for a just transition for affected high-carbon workers will be watching the federal budget closely when it is released on February 27. In his column, Mertins-Kirkwood says, “It’s time our government put forward a plan to fulfill its promise of a ‘just and fair transition’ to the clean economy.”

 

Read more on HillTimes.com

 

Report Reveals Regions with Highest Share of Fossil Fuel Workers by Province; “Just Transition” Plan Needed

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By Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA)
January 25, 2018

 

 

 

Communities across Canada need a national strategy to ensure the move to a zero-carbon economy leaves no one behind, according to a new report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) and Adapting Canadian Work and Workplaces to Respond to Climate Change (ACW). For the first time, the report uses census data to identify the regions in each province with the greatest reliance on fossil fuel jobs.

The new analysis comes after the federal government announced last fall it will launch a task force in 2018 on a “just transition” policy framework for certain sectors. In general, the broad goal of a just transition is to ensure an equitable, productive outcome for all workers in the decarbonized future.

“The transition to a clean economy will create significant opportunities for Canada, but the process may also present hardship for certain workers and their communities,” says study author and CCPA researcher Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood. “The fact is, Canada’s social safety net is not yet robust enough to support a just transition for those impacted. That needs to change.”

Among the study’s findings:

    • Fossil fuel dependence is overwhelmingly concentrated in Alberta, with a few hot spots in Saskatchewan and British Columbia;
    • However, there are communities from coast to coast where the share of fossil fuel jobs is relatively high. Bay Roberts, N.L.; Cape Breton, N.S.; Saint John, N.B.; Sarnia, Ont.; Estevan, Sask; Wood Buffalo, Alta.; and Fort St. John, B.C., have the greatest share of fossil fuel workers in their respective provinces;
    • In addition to a national just transition strategy and targeted policy measures for fossil fuel-dependent communities, Canada’s social security programs should be enhanced to better support workers in any industry facing job loss and retraining costs;
    • Governments must also invest in workforce development programs to ensure there are enough skilled workers to fill new jobs created by the zero-carbon economy.

“The threat of job losses is not just a problem in the oil patch. This research makes it clear there are communities across the country that rely on fossil fuel jobs for their prosperity,” adds Mertins-Kirkwood. “There’s no doubt we need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but in doing so governments must prioritize the stability of communities in vulnerable regions and the well-being of workers across the country.”

“Making Decarbonization Work for Workers: Policies for a just transition to a zero-carbon economy” is a co-publication by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and the Adapting Canadian Work and Workplaces to Respond to Climate Change research program, based at York University and funded by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

 

Read the report on PolicyAlternatives.ca

 

 

 

 

 

“Ambition Gap” Plagues Canadian Climate Change Efforts, Finds Report

 

(York University, Toronto) Efforts to curb climate change in Canada are being hampered by a serious “ambition gap,” finds a new report by researcher Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood. The study compares federal and provincial government greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets, mitigation policies, emissions, and workforce adjustment policies.

“Tracking progress: Evaluating government plans and actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Canada” is co-published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) and the Adapting Canadian Work and Workplaces to Respond to Climate Change (ACW) research program, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and based at York University.

In the report, Mertins-Kirkwood identifies three common themes in Canadian climate policy: an ambition gap between promises and policies, widespread dependence on and continued promotion of fossil fuels, and an absence of workforce transition policies.

“Canadian governments take climate change seriously insofar as they generally recognize the risk it presents and are taking steps to mitigate emissions. However, collectively, Canadian governments do not take climate change seriously enough to act with the necessary level of ambition,” writes Mertins-Kirkwood. “In some cases, the ambition gap between targets and projections is staggering.”

The absence of a robust just transition strategy is another key issue in Canadian climate policy. Canadian governments have so far been hesitant to tackle the potentially negative impacts of climate policies on fossil fuel workers and their communities. “Public support for emissions mitigation measures is undermined when jobs are lost in the process,” adds Mertins-Kirkwood.

“Tracking progress: Evaluating government plans and actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Canada” is the latest in a series of four reports produced for the ACW’s Domestic Policy Working Group—chaired by Bruce Campbell—which is investigating Canada’s evolving domestic climate policy landscape.

 

Download full report (PDF)

 

 

Canada’s evolving domestic climate policy landscape

These working papers are a series of three preliminary reports being produced for the ACW’s Domestic Policy Working Group—chaired by Bruce Campbell—which is investigating Canada’s evolving domestic climate policy landscape. These three preliminary reports—addressing Federal Government action, provincial government action, and domestic labour policy in Canada—will be integrated into a final report in spring 2017.

The preliminary reports take as their starting point the working group’s baseline report, which was completed in October 2015. That report provides context on the current profile of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada as well as the suite of climate policies in place at the federal and provincial level through October 2015.

 

Tracking progress: Evaluating government plans and actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Canada
May 2017
Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood
International trade and climate policy researcher, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA)

Download the full report (PDF)

 

Evaluating government plans and actions to reduce GHG emissions in Canada: Just transition policies
January 2017
Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood
Research Intern, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

Download the full report (PDF)

 

Evaluating Government Plans and Actions to Reduce GHG Emissions in Canada: Provincial and territorial progress through October 2016
November 2016
Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood
Research Intern, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA)

Download the full report (PDF)

 

Evaluating government plans and actions to reduce GHG emissions in Canada: Federal progress through June 2016
July 2016
Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood
Research Intern, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA)

Download the full report (PDF)

 

 

 

Evaluating Government Plans and Actions to Reduce GHG Emissions in Canada: The State of Play in 2016

 

Presentation by Bruce Campbell, CCPA & University of Ottawa, and Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, at ACW All Team Meeting Researcher’s Workshop.

 

Vancouver, November 2016

 

Download the presentation (PDF)

 

ACW Baseline Report – Domestic Policy

 

By Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood
Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA)

 

This report provides an overview of the Canadian policies and financing instruments designed to discourage the emission of carbon and other greenhouse gases (GHGs) into the atmosphere (“green policies”). The report is focused in particular on energy policy in Canada as it relates to the production and consumption of “clean” as opposed to “dirty” energy. Energy use is directly responsible for the vast majority of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions, which means any policies that encourage or discourage the production or consumption of different kinds of energy has a direct impact on those emissions. The report also presents and assesses the policy visions of Canadian governments (federal, provincial, and territorial) as they relate to energy production and consumption in the context of climate change.

To this end, the report is guided by two research questions:

  1. What policies and financing instruments have Canadian governments implemented so far to encourage or discourage different kinds of greenhouse gas-emitting activity?
  2. What green policy visions have Canadian governments put forward and what actions have they promised to take on greenhouse gas-emitting activity moving forward?
Download the full report (PDF)