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What do we know? What do we need to know?

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The implications of global climate change for Canadian employment and work

Funded by: Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada and the Natural Sciences & Engineering Research Council of Canada

Lead Investigator: Carla Lipsig-Mummé

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 will shake up the nature of work and the availability and distribution of employment both within and between countries, regions, communities. Global warming will change regional labour markets, human resource practices, workplace industrial relations and skill demands. Not all regions, however, are affected similarly. In Canada, global warming is already changing what we produce and where we are able to produce it. Key Canadian sectors (agriculture, forestry, oil and gas, transportation equipment, etc.) 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 in key economic sectors and their labour markets. 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.