'Just Transition' Q&A for Canadian Natural Resource Workers

Just Transition Questions Answers for Canadian Energy Workers 2

The federal government is asking Canadians to provide feedback on its proposed "Just Transition" which will play a major role in fulfilling Canada's commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and move towards becoming net-zero by 2050.

Canada's 'Just Transition' legislation is supposed to:

> Ensure that climate action policies consider the impact on the workers, businesses and communities most impacted by them (especially oil and gas workers, businesses and communities like you and yours). 

> Ensure that families and communities reliant upon fossil fuel industries do not bear a disproportionate share of the costs associated with the transition

> Ensure that the result of transition policies create jobs of the same quality, quantity, and location as those jobs which are lost or permanently displaced

> Ensure that those who will be most impacted and bear the costs of the transition to a low carbon economy have a chance to meaningfully participate in the process

> Ensure that the processes and policies are human-centered and involvement of those affected begins many years in advance of a transition policy's impact so that there is adequate time to prepare and adapt.

Without your input, it is increasingly unlikely that these outcomes will be realized!

"No worker or community can be left behind," says our government, so let's make sure that your voice is heard!

Why Should This Matter to Me?

just transition supporter quote for canadian energy 1

So far, Canada hasn't had the best record of including impacted workers and communities in their climate action policies. The 2018 Task Force on a Just Transition for Coal Power Workers led to a lot of recommendations in its final report but produced few results. We have seen little evidence of the learnings from that task force being implemented in plans for this pending "Just Transition Plan."

Nor does our government have a history of properly funding programs to facilitate a truly "Just Transition." Even anti-fossil fuel activists estimate that a well-developed Just Transition plan will cost anywhere from $16.5-$40 billion per year over the lifetime of the transition.

Have a say in the climate policies that are very likely to directly impact you, your colleagues, and neighbours. This is your chance to take action!

Let's ensure that the feedback our government receives is not dominated by anti-development activists, but by everyday Canadians who these policies will affect the most!

How to Get Involved? Use Our Q&A!

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Send a letter to the government and either copy/paste or use our questions and answers below as a guide for your recommendations!

Q: How important is it for the federal government to assess potential impacts on workers and communities when considering climate change action?

> It is essential. Climate policy should always consider those workers and communities most affected, as per the Inclusion of Just Transition Principles into the Paris Agreement of 2015. The two must go hand in hand. If those impacted by climate policy are not partners in developing policy, they will rightly act in opposition to those policies, creating further polarization in our nation and kneecapping any efforts we make to lower emissions in the fight against climate change.

Q: Are the draft just transition principles meaningful to you? 

> The Just Transition Principles, as outlined by the UN, are about a transition to a lower-carbon economy, not an abject transition off of fossil fuels. That is an essential detail to keep in mind when drafting policies. The reality is that the world will need oil and gas for many decades yet, and Canada is one of the most sustainable and responsible producers of natural resources on the planet. We should be the last producer "out of the pool."

> The principle that those most impacted by climate policy should be at the center of the process of determining policy matters to me. We can not leave workers and communities behind in our quest for lower emissions. The UN acknowledges that good jobs and decent work are critical goals that must not be superseded by climate action, but rather work in conjunction.

> The priority of ensuring that adequate time and funding are given to communities and workers to make plans to achieve net zero goals are essential. Carbon capture and storage and other initiatives to lower emissions in the oil and gas sector, while sustaining the sector and the economic prosperity it generates for Canadians, must be included in these plans.

> The focus on ensuring that jobs displaced in any region are replaced with both quantity and quality is essential.

Q: Are the draft just transition principles broad enough to be flexible to unique and differing needs but specific enough to be effective?

> The principles do not yet make accommodations for Indigenous communities which depend on revenues from high emission industries for their autonomy and self-government. After years of encouraging involvement in the natural resource economy and building capacity, we cannot now insist that they stop and start again. This is particularly important as First Nations and Metis Locals are restricted to their territories and cannot relocate their resources for economic development. These Indigenous communities are also often found in rural parts of our vast country and have very few other options when it comes to generating economic activity and prosperity in their territories.

> Just Transition principles are not intended to abolish all fossil fuel development, but rather to lower our net GHG emissions in a way that leaves "…no worker or community behind." If the principles are interpreted to mean an end to the fossil fuel industry, that would be a direct and unacceptable harm to Canadian families, workers, communities, businesses and government revenues. 

Q: Who should be on the just transition's advisory body?

> Members of the Indian Resource Council 

> Representatives from high emissions sector communities 

> Workers representatives from high emissions sector companies 

> Worker representatives from impacted / indirect industries

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Q: What should be the mandate of the just transition's advisory body?

> The mandate should be to ensure that the costs of a Canadian transition to a lower emission economy not be disproportionately borne by workers and communities in high emission sectors, as those workers entered into the industry in good faith, in service to their families, communities, and country.

> The mandate should also ensure that the benefits of climate action policy should be shared equitably, with caution that it not be only urban areas that benefit.  

Q: Whom should the just transition advisory body's recommendations be aimed at?

> Recommendations should be aimed at the workers, businesses and communities most reliant on heavy emitting industries and in supporting them to take all measures to reduce the emissions of their industries.

Q: What is the best way to ensure that regional and local views across Canada are heard?

> As per the Task Force on a Just Transition for Coal Power Workers, there should be both formal and informal meetings with communities, businesses and unions in impacted areas.

Q: How should the advisory body engage Canadians?

> It is insufficient to have the government put out a discussion paper and expect those impacted to know about this opportunity to participate in the process. The process must be centered on the impacted workers, per Just Transition principles. To quote the Just Transition Task Force for Coal Power Workers: "Affected workers and communities must be at the heart of decision-making during the transition to a low-carbon economy." Broader consultation is required with the people and communities who will be directly affected by any just transition legislation introduced in Canada.

> There must be procedural justice in the process of developing the plan. If affected workers are not intrinsically involved, they will feel the negligence and abandonment that coal workers have expressed.

Q: What role should the federal government play in supporting the work of the advisory body?

> The Federal government needs to ensure that a Just Transition Plan, with impacted workers at its core, is adequately funded to truly ensure that Canada's hard-working natural resource workers are not left to bear a disproportionate amount of the costs of moving our country to a lower emissions future. If there is no further accountability for everyday citizens to lower their emissions, certainly it is unjust for upstanding, hard-working, well-intentioned resource workers to make all the sacrifices. 

Q: What do you see as the main economic opportunities and challenges associated with Canada's transition to a low-carbon economy?

> The main opportunity is to encourage and support high-emitting companies to achieve net zero, via funding and public relations support, so that we can retain the great jobs we have, utilize our vast resources, generate revenue for our health and social programs, and keep rural and remote communities which are dependent on resource development thriving.

> The main challenge is that many policy makers and fossil fuel opponents perceive that any support for emitting companies is incompatible with achieving net zero emissions.  We need to change the narrative from a transition away from fossil fuels to a transition towards net zero.

Q: What would a successful transition to net-zero emissions look like for your sector or community?  

> Investment in CCUS in the oil and gas sector so as to move to net zero while retaining the benefits of jobs and revenues for as long as the world still needs petroleum products.

Q: Which government policies or programs in Canada have been successful in supporting workers and/or businesses in your community/sector?

> Carbon Capture funding would be helpful if it didn't exclude CCUS for oil recovery. If the point is to reduce emissions via CCUS, replacement, reduction, etc. as indicated in the IPCC reports, all efforts to do so should be considered and supported. That includes the use of nuclear power generation.

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Q: What gaps in government policies and programming exist to adequately prepare Canadian and Indigenous workers for future "green" employment opportunities?

> Insufficient acknowledgement of the growing demand for petroleum products and the opportunity for Canada to be a leader in providing the most ethical lowest emission oil in the world, for as long as the world still needs petroleum products. 

> Insufficient funding for workers who need retraining, relocation, or who are near retirement and should be given early and extended pensions rather than retrain. 

> Insufficient funding for communities most at risk when jobs and revenues disappear. 

> Insufficient planning in advance of climate action policies to allow workers and communities time to adapt to future changes. 

> Insufficient education centres, as recommended by the Coal Task Force, to educate communities on why transition is happening, how it will specifically impact them, employment and revenue alternatives, etc. 

> Lack of a simple, user-friendly, single point of entry to access any support associated with a Just Transition.

> Lack of a dedicated minister responsible for a Just Transition to a low carbon economy. We have a minister of environment, however, the Paris Agreement states that we are also committed to a Just Transition and it appears so far to be an after-thought. This was a recommendation of the ECCC Coal Transition task force also. 

> Lack of clarity on the process for determining climate and just transition policies and how impacted workers and communities can participate i.e. Procedural Justice.

> Lack of execution on the recommendations from the Coal Task Force, as commissioned by ECCC for the Minister of the Environment, as a model for how to implement a Just Transition for other high-emitting industries.

Q: Which, if any, anticipate and react to potential employment disruptions?

> Employment Insurance will be helpful, however as pointed out in the Coal Just Transition Task Force, it is insufficient in its current form to accommodate the needs of a just transition in Canada.

Q: Are there specific groups or communities in Canada that may have the greatest risk of being adversely affected on the path to net zero?

> Indigenous communities who rely on natural resources for their economic development. They have few alternatives, and are just developing capacity in this area. It would be tragic to undermine those efforts and that sovereignty.

> Remote and rural communities which have a heavy dependence on high emitting sectors.

Q: What steps can be taken to ensure these groups are in a position to benefit from this transformation?

> Consultation, not unlike that with indigenous communities, should occur in order to ensure, as per the UN principles, that impacted workers are at the very heart of solutions.

> Solutions and policies must be ground up. They cannot begin with urban policymakers who have no knowledge of the communities and industries they are developing policies for. 

Q: How do we go about ensuring that Canada’s just transition policies are nationally cohesive, regionally driven, and locally delivered?

> National cohesion can be attained through adherence to the UN Just transition Principles (goal is lower emissions, not the elimination of fossil fuel use; without a change in definition as suits the political agenda of certain groups in our nation.

> Further programs need to be developed in consultation with the impacted communities as partners towards net zero, not as afterthoughts or worse, abandoned and forgotten to deal with the aftermath of policies developed by those who are not personally impacted by the results of their decisions. 

Please provide any other information, evidence or research you consider relevant to this work!

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