Work in a Warming World (W3): Adapting Canadian Employment and Work to the Challenges of Climate Change, 2010-2015
Lead Investigator: Carla Lipsig-Mummé, York University
Context: Global climate change may be on everyone’s lips, but the silence about its impact on the world of work is deafening. Climate change is already shaking up the nature of work and the distribution of employment within and between countries, regions and communities, dislocating people and industries and communities. In Canada, key economic sectors are affected directly by climate change, or indirectly by measures to mitigate its effects, and by the emergence of green technologies. New occupations and professions are springing up and the possibility of new ways of working are crystallizing.
Yet here is the puzzle: Despite our growing concern about environmental sustainability in Canada, research on the implications of climate change for employment and work and its impact on education and training, public investment, infrastructure and regulation, has scarcely begun. Workplaces of every size and type—from farms to mines, to factories to offices, to stores to schools, to hospitals to home offices—are both significant producers of greenhouse gas emissions, and potentially powerful actors in containing global warming.
The central research question is this: How can institutions of work adapt more effectively, and contribute more fully, to the struggle to contain global warming? How will the institutions of work be required to change in the face of climate change?
The Work in a Warming World research programme has four goals:
• Map and evaluate how well labour market organizations are assessing and responding to the impact of climate change on work and employment in their sectors.
• Engage community partners specialising in training, environmental advocacy and work organization in identifying critical spaces for the adaptation of work and employment.
• Turn research into solutions for practical problems, on three levels: linking environment and employment policy; developing and introducing environmentally responsible employment and work practices; greening curriculum at all levels and broadening the environmental focus of active labour market transitions.
• Train a Canadian generation of researchers in the social dimensions of climate change.
In service to these goals, we are developing an ongoing dialogue between climate scientists, workplace organizations and academic researchers in the social and environmental sciences, and law.