What do we know? What do we need to know? A Knowledge Synthesis Project

What do we know? What do we need to know? the implications of global climate change for Canadian employment and work.

A Tri-Council Knowledge Synthesis Project on the Environment, 2008-2009

Funding organisations:

  • Canadian Institutes of Health Research
  • Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada
  • Natural Science and Engineering Research Council

Global warming may be on everyone’s lips, but the silence about the impact of climate change on the future of work and employment is deafening. The economic and social consequences of global climate change are shaking up the nature of work and the availability and distribution of employment. Global warming is changing regional labour markets, human resource practices, workplace industrial relations and skill demands. Not all regions, however, are affected similarly. Nor are all economic sectors. In Canada, key sectors are affected directly by global warming or indirectly by measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. As well, new areas of economic activity related to green technologies are opening.

But despite our growing concern about environmental sustainability, existing research on the complex interactions between climate change work and employment in Canada has yet to be collated, analysed and synthesised. This project asks first: What do we know? about climate change’s impact in six key economic sectors and their labour markets. These sectors are: energy, transportation equipment, forestry, tourism, postal services and construction.

To answer this question, the project gathers and analyses both traditional and grey literature, in English and French. The project then asks: What do we need to know? -identifying the knowledge gaps to be addressed by further research. The bilingual research team brings together climate scientists, economic geographers, public educators, specialists in information technology, industrial relations, sociology of work and public policy. It also, unusually, brings the labour market organisations into every stage of the research, including a government ministry of labour, a private-sector labour market research firm, and a large, sustainability-aware trade union. Furthermore, the project is committed to popularisation and wide dissemination of our findings, the better to engage the several communities with this crucial issue.

The What do we know? What do we need to know? Report is available for free download – PDF.

The project has also constructed a publicly accessible bibliographic database of 1700+ sources on climate and work in Canada – RefShare.

Tri-Council Knowledge Synthesis Project on the Environment, 2008-2009

Lead Researcher
Dr. Carla Lipsig-Mummé, York University

Dr. John Calvert, Simon Fraser University
Dr. Marjorie Griffin Cohen, Simon Fraser University
Mr. Robert Hatfield, Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada
Dr. John Holmes, Queen’s University
Dr. Steven Tufts, York University
Federation Fellow Professor Amanda Lynch, Monash University

Canadian Union of Postal Workers
Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada
Prism Economics and Analysis
Ontario Ministry of Labour