ACW Collaborating Researcher Lee Loftus Named to BC Climate Advisory Council

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The province of British Columbia has created a new advisory council to provide strategic advice to the government on climate action paired with economic growth, and has appointed Lee Loftus, ACW Collaborating Researcher and project Steering Committee member, to the council.

Environment Minister George Heyman said the council will be charged with developing a new climate strategy for the province while balancing BC’s economic needs. He further announced that he will introduce legislation next spring that mandates the government to cut emissions by 40 per cent over the next 13 years.

“The reason we’ve put together this advisory council today is to help us work through the issues of how we balance reductions across industry, across buildings and homes, and across transportation in order to meet those targets,” he told Global News.

Loftus is a supporter of reducing GHG emissions through improved construction practices. As Business Agent of the BC Insulators union, he has long advocated for improved training and construction methods to help combat climate change.

A recent report published by ACW, called “Promoting Climate Literacy in British Columbia’s Apprenticeship System: Evaluating One’s Union Efforts to Overcome Attitudinal Barriers to Low Carbon Construction,” documented Loftus’ efforts.

“I’m trying to instill that pride back into people; this really is a skill set, this is really something you can be proud of. Because what you’re doing doesn’t just give you a pay check, it actually provides an advantage to the community and an advantage to the environment,” Loftus told researchers Corinne Tallon and John Calvert.

Industry representatives on the council include Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers past president and CEO Dave Collyer. The co-chairs of the council are Clean Energy Canada executive director Merran Smith and Teck Resources Limited sustainability and external affairs senior vice-president Marcia Smith.

The council will hold its initial meeting soon, followed by quarterly meetings where advice and feedback on climate policy will be forwarded to the environment and climate change strategy minister and the climate action secretariat on a regular basis, according to a government statement.

ACW leads conference stream on climate change and labour

 

4-6 April 2017, Sheffield, UK

At the 35th International Labour Process Conference, held in Sheffield, UK, ACW ran a special stream titled “A Volatile Political Economy: Work, Climate Change and Labour: Labour Process Perspectives”. This was for the second year running, last year’s theme at the ILPC conference in Berlin being Labour, Work and Climate Change: a labour process perspective. The stream this year was led by Professor Carla Lipsig-Mummé of York University, Toronto, Canada and Professor Linda Clarke of the University of Westminster, UK, together with Donald Lafleur, Executive Vice-President, Canadian Labour Congress and Dr. Elaine Bernard, Director of Labor and Worklife Program, Harvard Law School, US.

The stream addressed the problematic issue that, though work, worksites and production supply chains are major polluters, the new retreat into defensive nationalism adds to the difficulties of combatting at an international level the global danger we confront. It is vital to re-connect work and political economy, so that the transition to a low carbon economy becomes an international driver for transforming the labour process to the benefit of workers. Bringing workers and unions and work itself ‘in’ to the struggle to slow global warming entails rethinking the labour process through a green lens, and adapting key steps in the chain of production to mitigate greenhouse gases. It entails reconsidering the legal, political and economic contexts that hinder or facilitate workplace low-carbon adaptation, bringing labour and environment law together, criticising work design and current business models for their carbon excesses, and rediscovering the influential roles that workers, their unions and professional associations can play in adapting and improving the labour process. And, finally, it means understanding the ways in which political economies and responses to climate change affect not only the labour process, but union goals, alliances, modes of action, organisation of young workers, political strength and strategic creativity.

Within this framework, papers were presented in four separate sessions over two days by ACW researchers, academics from universities in the UK and further afield, and those from trade union organisations.

The contributions within each themed session included:

Just Transition
• Slow Greening: Climate Literacy and the Labour Movement: Carla Lipsig-Mummé, York University, Canada
• Just Transition in a Neoliberal Context: the contradictions of labour-market policy in post-petro-state Canada: Donald Lafleur and Chris Roberts, Canadian Labour Congress
• Contesting Just Transition: a sufficient challenge to capitalist labour processes? (Ewan Kerr, University of Glasgow)

Energy Provision
• Romance or Chimaera? Industry Policy and Job Quality in European Offshore Wind Turbine Manufacturing: Lisa Shulte, Middlesex University, UK
• Decarbonising the Electricity Grid: the implications for organised labour: Colin Patrick Gleeson, University of Westminster, UK

VET for low energy construction
• Promoting Climate Literacy in British Columbia’s Apprenticeship System: evaluating one union’s efforts to overcome barriers to low carbon construction: John Calvert, Simon Fraser University, Canada
• The Role of Labour and VET in meeting Low Energy Construction Targets, Linda Clarke and Melahat Sahin-Dikmen, University of Westminster

Green Employment
• More and Better Jobs in a Low Carbon Future: provocations and possibilities: Steven Shelley, University of Hertfordshire, UK
• Gamification as Employment Strategy for Greening the Labour Process: Dean Stroud and Claire Evans, Cardiff University, UK
• The Role of Trade Unions in the Transformation towards a Low Carbon Economy: Bela Galgoczi, European Trade Union Institute, Belgium

Lively discussions followed the presentations, highlighting the significance of agency and vision in influencing the nature of the response to climate change and the critical necessity of bringing a labour perspective to bear on green transition approaches and policies by government and non-government organisations and agencies. Presentations were also informative about regional green transition initiatives involving trade unions, with discussions focusing particularly on British Columbia, Canada, the Ruhr region in Germany and Yorkshire and Humberside in the UK. Insights into the practical implementation, consequences and implications of green transitions were given in discussions about work and employment conditions in wind turbine manufacturing, training and skill needs in construction, and energy efficiency regulations in energy-intensive industries.

On the third day, the stream concluded with a panel discussion on ‘Green labour in dark times’, facilitated by responses to an imaginary scenario from 2035, when two major forces co-exist, digitalisation and climate change: can they combine or are they on a collision course? With examples of green transition initiatives from across a number of countries and regions, the possibility and need to allow for different green transitions pathways also came to the fore in the final debate. Above all, the fundamental role trade unions play in representing the interests of labour in what is a hugely complex, uneven and long transition to a green economy was reinforced.

It is intended that some of the contributions given at Sheffield and at last year’s Berlin conference will, together with contributions from ACW and other international researchers be included in two books and a special journal.

Linda Clarke, Carla Lipsig-Mummé and Melahat Sahin-Dikmen
June 2017

Evaluating the Impact of the BC Insulators’ Union Campaign to Promote Improved Mechanical Insulation Standards in BC’s Construction Industry

These papers are part of a series being produced for the ACW’s Built Environment Working Group—chaired by John Calvert —which is investigating the BC Insulators union’s efforts to promote a major climate initiative in the construction industry.

Buildings account for between 35% and 40% of GHG emissions and energy use (Stern 2006, IPCC 2014). Consequently, improving the energy efficiency of buildings is an important mechanism to address climate change. One key method to accomplish this objective is through establishing higher energy efficiency standards for mechanical insulation (e.g. Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning – HVAC) systems.

The BC Insulators Local 118 represents unionized skilled insulators who have a Trades Qualification (TQ) and have completed a 4 year apprenticeship in HVAC systems and related building insulation methods. Over the years, the BC Insulators campaigned to encourage municipalities in BC to require higher insulation standards in their building requirements and procurement contract tenders.

The BC Insulator’s initiative is unique in Canada. It illustrates the efforts of a labour organization to promote a major climate initiative in the construction industry.

This project documents the Insulators’ campaign, including the union’s rationale for initiating it, describe its various components and evaluate the extent to which it has influenced standards of mechanical insulation in BC. The study explores the question of why the BC Insulators chose to align their campaign with climate change objectives and why they decided to target local governments as a key part of their strategy for generating broader industry support for the enhanced standards they favoured.

 

The Union as Climate Change Advocate: the BC Insulator’s Campaign to “Green” the Culture of the Building Industry in British Columbia
April 2016
By John Calvert and Corrine Tallon, Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University (SFU)

Download the full report (PDF)

 

Promoting Climate Literacy in British Columbia’s Apprenticeship System: Evaluating One Union’s Efforts to Overcome Attitudinal Barriers to Low Carbon Construction
April 2017
By Corinne Tallon and John Calvert, Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University SFU)

Download the full report (PDF)

Promoting Climate Literacy in British Columbia’s Apprenticeship System: Evaluating One Union’s Efforts to Overcome Attitudinal Barriers to Low Carbon Construction

By Corinne Tallon and John Calvert

Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University

Prepared for the International Labour Process Conference (ILPC), Sheffield, United Kingdom, April 4 – 6, 2017

 

Abstract

 

Buildings account for a significant component of total energy consumption and are thus a critical target in lowering society’s carbon footprint and mitigating climate change. While there has been considerable progress in developing new technologies, materials and building designs to achieve this goal, one key element of making buildings more energy efficient is too often overlooked: the competency and commitment of the workforce responsible for the building construction. There is considerable evidence of a significant gap between the needed skill sets for low carbon construction and the capacity of the training and apprenticeship systems to deliver appropriate skills – including climate literacy – to the construction workforce, both in Canada and internationally. Furthermore, an apparent gap exists in terms of interest and investment on the part of government, employers, and union leaders within the industry to encourage this type of training and, more importantly, implementation of this training on the work site.

This research paper examines the efforts of one building trades union to promote climate literacy within British Columbia (BC) via the classroom. The BC Insulators union has responsibility for training all mechanical insulation (MI) trades’ workers in the province under an agreement with the BC government. It delivers the classroom training under contract with the province’s largest public training college, the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT). As part of its commitment to address sustainability and green construction practices within the industry, the union has introduced a ‘Green Awareness’ course to their apprenticeship program curriculum. The two-module course was introduced in 2011 and is taught over the course of the first two years of the four-year program.

After conducting a review of the ‘Green Awareness’ course content, the research team performed qualitative interviews with a cohort of 2nd and 4th year apprentices. The former cohort had, at the time of the interviews, received both modules of the new course. The fourth-year cohort on the other hand had completed most of their classroom training before the module had been fully refined. They therefore had not received the formal ‘Green Awareness’ training. The purpose of this research was to determine whether exposure to the new ‘Green Awareness’ course content influenced the apprentices’ views on climate change, and whether they identified links between climate change, their performance as insulators, and the performance of the construction industry more broadly.

The interviews identified significant differences in the two cohorts’ levels of understanding of the links between the construction industry, MI, and climate change. Degree of understanding and interest also varied depending on the sector in which the apprentice had employment experience and the specific types of projects on which they had worked. Significantly, apprentices identified a number of barriers to their ability to implement best practices and low carbon construction, including: lack of co-ordination between insulators and other trades; the absence of stringent inspection of finished work; pressure to complete tasks at the expense of quality work; and a more general pattern of industry indifference to implementing best practices and low carbon construction. These findings indicate the need for further refinements in the content and delivery of the ‘Green Awareness’ course material. The authors conclude that incorporating climate change-related course content into the training process is an important step in fostering climate literacy within the industry and should be encouraged in other trades. However, its degree of impact will be limited unless more sweeping changes are made to the organization and culture of the construction industry itself.

 

Download the full report (PDF)

 

Climate change and work: international perspectives

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Workshop

hosted by Sheffield Climate Alliance, Sheffield Trade Union Council
and international trade unionists and researchers

Tuesday 4th April, 6.30pm to 9pm
Quaker Meeting House, 10 St James’ St, Sheffield S1 2EW

Free event with buffet supper – please book on Eventbrite by 30 Mar:
www.eventbrite.com/e/climate-change-and-work-international-perspectivestickets-32880462348

At the beginning of April, academic researchers and trade unionists from various countries
will be in Sheffield to participate in the Climate Change and Work stream of the 32nd
International Labour Process Conference at the University of Sheffield.

The Adapting Canadian Workplaces programme (www.adaptingcanadianwork.ca/), led by
Professor Carla Lipsig Mummé will be strongly represented. ACW partners include many
Canadian trade unions, including the Postal Workers, Union of Public Employees, United
Steelworkers, and British Columbian Building Trades, as well as the Labor Network for
Sustainability. The project has been building databases of collective agreement clauses and
training programmes on climate change.

We are offering the chance to meet and exchange ideas about what is being done locally in
the Sheffield area and in other parts of the globe.
International participants include:

  • Donald Lafleur, Vice President of the Canadian Labour Congress
  • Bela Galgoczi from the European Trade Union Institute
  • Carla Lipsig Mummé, of York University, Toronto
  • John Calvert, Simon Fraser University, British Columbia

 

And from the UK:

  • Graham Petersen, UCU and Greener Jobs Alliance (www.greenerjobsalliance.co.uk/)
  • Dean Stroud and Claire Evans of Cardiff University
  • Linda Clarke and Colin Gleeson, ProBE, University of Westminster
  • Martin Mayer, Sheffield TUC

 

A buffet supper and coffee/tea will be available and afterwards we will adjourn to a
local pub for drinks and a chance to chat further. Please book on Eventbrite so we
know numbers.

 

Sheffield Climate Alliance: info@sheffieldclimatealliance.net or
Linda Clarke: clarkel@wmin.ac.uk or 07821610665

The Union as Climate Change Advocate: the BC Insulator’s Campaign to “Green” the Culture of the Building Industry in British Columbia

By John Calvert and Corrine Tallon, Simon Fraser University (SFU)

Prepared for the International Labour Process Conference (ILPC) Berlin, Germany, April 2016

Abstract:

This paper examines the efforts of one Canadian building trades’ union, the BC Insulators, to influence the culture and climate change policies of the construction industry in British Columbia. The union’s members install and inspect mechanical insulation (MI) on heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems in commercial and industrial buildings. Its climate advocacy was prompted by the failure of the province’s construction industry to implement appropriate quality standards due to its culture of low bid construction practices and its unwillingness to train and employ qualified insulation workers. This failure was compounded by the reluctance of government to impose and enforce stringent building codes to reduce the carbon footprint of buildings. Recognizing the significant contribution that MI can make to reducing energy use and GHG emissions, the union embarked on a major campaign to promote the climate benefits of MI. It funded independent, technical research papers, commissioned best practice manuals with detailed guidelines on installing MI and initiated an extensive and carefully organized public education campaign to pressure industry and government to raise standards. It approached municipalities, building contractors, government officials, property developers, industry professionals and trade organizations to alert them to the importance of reducing the energy footprint of buildings. It pressured governments to raise MI standards in procurement of new and refurbished buildings and implement tougher requirements in their building codes. And it introduced climate change literacy into the curriculum of the apprenticeship system it oversees. This paper documents the union’s comprehensive campaign as an illustration of the contribution labour can make to addressing the critical challenge of global warming.

 

Download the full report (PDF)

 

BC Green Jobs Conference: Nov 24 – 25, 2016

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The Adapting Canadian Work and Workplaces to Respond to Climate Change (ACW) project invites you to participate in the upcoming “Jobs Today, Jobs Tomorrow – BC’s Green Jobs Conference” in Vancouver, British Columbia on November 24 and 25, 2016.

Every year, the conference unites people in British Columbia around a shared plan for good, green jobs in the new economy.

Individuals and organizations from diverse professional backgrounds will convene in New Westminster’s Anvil Centre where they connect and learn through cross-sector activities and presentations.

This year’s topics include economic reconciliation, leadership for a Green Economy and advanced technology, and our Low Carbon Future.

Many Participating Researchers from ACW will be presenting at the conference, including:

  • Carla Lipsig-Mummé, Lead Researcher, Adapting Canadian Workplaces, York University
  • Elaine Bernard, Executive Director of the Labor and Worklife Program, Harvard Law School
  • John Calvert, Associate Professor, Faculty of Health Sciences SFU
  • Lee Loftus, President, British Columbia and Yukon Territory Building and Construction Trades Council

Keynote speaker Bob McDonald, host of CBC’s Quirks & Quarks, will be presenting at the conference and speaking of his latest blog post why Canada needs a green industrial revolution.

To register and purchase tickets visit http://www.greenjobsbc.org/register

For more information visit http://www.greenjobsbc.org/

ACW is proud to be a Silver Sponsor of the BC Green Jobs Conference

ACW Baseline Report – Built Environment

By John Calvert

Associate Professor
Faculty of Health Sciences
Simon Fraser University, Canada

 

The overall aim of the Built Environment Working Group is to research the labour and labour process implications of transitioning to a low carbon, energy efficient building industry.

This Baseline Report has the following goals:

  1. To establish the current state of knowledge about the contribution of the workforce to ‘greening’ the construction industry;
  2. To assess the potential of labour to shape the industry’s carbon footprint.
  3. To identify barriers to the successful participation of the workforce in developing pathways to low carbon construction and develop strategies to circumvent these barriers.
  4. To identify needed modifications to employment, employment conditions, working practices and the overall organization of construction work that will improve the capacity of the workforce to implement low carbon construction (effective health and safety provisions, integrated team‐based work practices, improved vocational education and training (VET), union representation and a greater say for the workforce in shaping the industry’s future).
  5. To examine the current and potential role of unions and professional organizations in advancing this process.
  6. To analyze the workforce implications of widely used policy tools, such as energy efficiency targets, building codes and contract procurement requirements in facilitating the transition to low carbon construction.
  7. To carry out research on the role of workers and the organizations that represent them in implementing specific, innovative low carbon projects which can serve as models for wider application in the building industry.

 

Download the full report (PDF)

 

 

Constructing sustainable buildings in a warming world

 

An interview with ACW participating researcher, John Calvert
Originally published by Simon Fraser University

Did you know buildings account for almost 40 per cent of Canada’s final energy consumption and roughly 20 per cent of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions?

SFU health sciences associate professor John Calvert recently argued the need for low-carbon practices in construction in one of two chapters he wrote for Work in a Warming World, a book published in 2015.

In his chapter “Construction and Climate Change,” he writes, “The main challenge the construction-industry faces is the need for much greater investment in training the workforce in low-carbon building techniques. This needs to be supplemented by tougher building regulations and effective enforcement of building codes to reduce the carbon footprint of buildings.”

Read more

 

New seven-year partnership to find ways to improve and adapt the workplace

 

By Shawn Connor, The Vancouver Sun

There has been a lot of work and research focused on the science of climate change. But there hasn’t been much focus on the way in which workers and workplaces will have to change to mitigate and adapt to the impact of climate change, John Calvert says.

The Simon Fraser University health sciences associate professor is part of a major new seven-year research partnership that will identify steps that can be taken to reduce the carbon-footprint in a number of areas of the economy, with a focus on the workplace and workers.

The national project is called Adapting Canadian Work and Workplaces to Respond to Climate Change: Canada in International Perspective. The York University-led partnership will receive $2.5 million in funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and more than $2.2 million in matching funding and contributions from partnering organizations. Partners include labour unions and business organizations, government and public sector organizations, think tanks, universities and environmental groups.

Read more