Contact: Labour Education

Talking About Climate Change

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The Joint Management Labour Environment Committee was established in 2018 with the mandate to collaboratively work to reduce GHGs at the Toronto District School Board. The committee is made up of representatives from TDSB management and its 4 unions. This presentation was developed by JMLEC to use as an educational tool to use in workshops and meetings to highlight the urgent need for action to prevent a climate catastrophe.

 

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Canada is heating up and Ontario is warming faster than the global average.

This chart shows zero as the baseline of average global temperature from the beginning of the industrial age in 1880. We passed this mark in 1950 and continue to accelerate.

 

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As seen in the pie chart, according to NASA, the gases in Earth's atmosphere include:

78% Nitrogen

21% Oxygen

0.93% Argon

0.04% Carbon Dioxide

There are also trace amounts of neon, helium, krypton , hydrogen,  plus water vapor, and other greenhouse gases like methane , ozone, fluoro hydrocarbons. The later are synthetically produced  propellants and refridgerants. There are also nitrous oxides and sulfur dioxide.

CO2 and other greenhouse gases trap the sun’s heat.

 

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Atmospheric Carbon  is produced naturally and with an average over time of 220 parts per million for hundreds of thousands of years. This has been determined through ice core sampling.  Since the industrial age, atmospheric CO2 levels have been rising rapidly. Human-produced greenhouse gases are the primary cause of the increased heating of the planet.

 

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Human industry has accelerated GHG emissions. Natural processes, such as forest fires or melting of permafrost are sped up by the warmer climate and release carbon that was previously stored and not active in the atmosphere.

 

There is a strong global consensus among climate scientists that if we do not decarbonize our society, climate events such as floods, tornadoes, and hurricanes will become increasingly extreme.

 

The brutally cold winter and the increasingly hot summers are related to climate change as the planet gets hotter seasons are more extreme.

Climate Scientists have found a strong correlation between a warming Arctic and colder, snowier winter weather. The term Polar Vortex to describe the weather pattern caused by disrupted jet streams that shift northern cold air deeper south has been in common usage since 2014.

 

These images depict natural events that are seriously escalating due to air pollution from fossil-fueled human economies:

  • Deeping droughts
  • Rising sea levels with coastal flooding
  • Increasingly frequent extremely violent storms
  • Shifting rainfall locations with longer, heavier rains in some places and much less rain in other places
  • Wildfires produced by dry conditions and early tree death due to new patterns of insect infestations
  • Periods of extreme heat or deep cold

 

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This recent NASA Map  shows how temperature change is affecting global locations  north of the equator. It illustrates the warmer temperatures in the Arctic and the colder temperatures in the central US. Parts of the polar  region and the west coast are much warmer than normal while the mid-eastern parts of north America and much of Europe are colder than usual.

 

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The Northern sea ice is melting faster than expected by climate models. Intensive cold periods are the new winter normal across the Great Lakes and into the US.  Heavier than usual snowfalls across UK and Eurasia have made transportation difficult. The ice lab in Greenland reports all this is climate-change related.

 

Climate news from around the globe, 2018-2019:

  1. New Delhi:The government of India has determined its main crops are likely to be adversely affected by climate change. India is on track to meeting its Paris targets by shifting energy production and implementing strategies to mitigate impacts.
  2. Philippines: Tropical Storm Usman caused flooding, landslides and killed 61 people.
  3. The Carolinas were pounded by Hurricane Florence and severe wildfires were burning in BC and California at the same time a Super Typhoon struck south-east Asia.
  4. Australia suffered a severe heatwave that scientists relate to climate change. Days are mid-40 C, evening temperatures are in the 30s.  Port Augusta reached an all time high of 49.6 degrees on January 24, when it was the hottest place in the country. The Australian Government estimates that human death rates due to extreme heat will more than double by 2030 and triple by 2050.

 

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Changing the climate affects where it rains and how much. Access to water is the necessity for life. Human need for drinking water competes with growing food and industry. Climate change is affecting access to water worldwide and this, in turn, will have an drastic impact on our quality of life, affordability and social harmony. Canada is not immune.

 

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China, US, the European Union, India and Russia are the top five Greenhouse Gas emitters. Canada is  9th in the world and will not meet our target for the United Nations Paris Agreement on Climate Change.



The 2015 Paris Climate Summit reached world agreement to reduce ghg emissions.  The Left of the chart shows carbon emissions. Right is resulting temperature range, with business as usual at top, current policies and pledges in the middle, and projections using identified action measures below that. Zero represents pre-industrial average temperature. The Paris targets aim to limit the increase in temperature by 2100 to 2 degrees Celsius above the start of the industrial age. Nations were challenged to see if they could reach  a 1.5 degree limit as an aspirational goal.

 

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While other nations are making progress, Canada is not. The impact of Canada’s climate actions to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions is minimal.

 

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The G20 met last November. We have fallen behind other members as Canada’s emissions from buildings and transportation are 4 times greater than the G20 average.

 

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Globally, Canada is the highest per person Carbon emitter.

Our current direction on climate action is projected to result in a dangerous 4 to 6 degree increase by the end of the century, rather than limiting it to 1.5 agreed to in the Paris Climate Accord.

 

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By 2014, Ontario had lowered its Carbon emissions by closing all 5 coal fired generating stations and shifting some energy production to wind and solar. However, this process displaced 1200 workers and negatively affected local communities.  Ontario’s industries are growing, and despite the reduction noted in 2014, that growth is offsetting the reduction of GHGs. Energy includes oil and natural gas used in vehicle fuel and building climate control systems. Industrial processes and products have toxic emissions, including  propellants and refrigerants that are GHGsnhouse gases, and consume enormous quantities of energy.

Agriculture  and waste management have  high levels of methane, which is 25 times more potent than CO2.

 

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Before the Katowice Climate Summit in December 2018, UN Secretary General Guterres issued a red alert based on the scientific community’s special report commissioned for the Summit.  Although most nations at Katowice spoke in favour of heeding the recommendations from the report, there was not a strong statement of support in the summit’s final declaration. Progress was made on rules to implement the Paris Agreement and increasing commitments. Declarations  were ratified on Just Transition of the Economy, Electric Mobility, and Forests for Climate.

 

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Youth are mobilizing globally in response to climate change. At the Katowice Climate Summit, Swedish fifteen year old Greta Thunberg delivered a very clear message stating that inaction on carbon emissions jeopardizes the planet’s future. She said, “You say you love your children above all else, and yet you are stealing their future in front of their very eyes. Until you start focusing on what needs to be done rather than what is politically possible, there is no hope. We can’t solve a crisis without treating it as a crisis. ” Fridays for the Future is the world youth response to Greta’s challenge

A global student movement is now striking for climate action.

 

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Student Climate Action strikes are happening around the world. This one in Victoria is one of several rallies across Canada that are demanding government to take effective action. With the support of students, Emergency Climate Plans were approved In Montreal last fall and Vancouver and Halifax in January 2019.

 

Toronto:  intense rainfall that overwhelm infrastructure,  and high wind. Toronto Islands flooded 2 years in a row

Ottawa –Gateneau in 2018 had 6 tornados in one day and severe flooding in 2019

Power outages are increasing in length and severity

 

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This City of Toronto chart is based on data from 2011. More extreme projections will emerge from data released in 2018 and 2019.

 

The City of Toronto has done extensive climate modelling to set carbon reduction targets for its sustainability plan, called TransformTO. There is good information and resources available showing how the target for reducing overall emissions was set, and how it can be reached by 2050 using existing technologies.

Recommended actions include:

  • Improving building efficiencies as being done through Better Buildings Partnership and Tower Renewal
  • Electric Vehicles
  • Community Energy
  • Waste Diversion, and
  • Active Transportation

 

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There are best practices and educational tools that can be brought into action. DRAWDOWN  has a variety of video resources and 100 actions to take to reduce emissions and help reach  carbon neutrality. Three highest impact deliverables they recommend are dealing with refrigerants, alternative energy generation and eliminating food waste.

Canada Green Building Council offers approaches from architects and planners; The International  Council of Local Environmental Initiatives networks over 1500 local initiatives around the world; Nasa provides high tech monitoring and analysis;  Taking it Global links the education and students for climate action.

 

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An economic transition is underway that is part of a shift to a carbon neutral economy including:

  • More resilient infrastructure
  • Expansion of renewable energy generation
  • Use of lectric vehicles
  • Buildings changed to increase climate performance

This all results in jobs and economic growth. However, changing the nature of energy in our economy will mean structural adjustments in natural resources sector,  closing coal and gas generating plants, and shutting industries that manufacture gas powered vehicles. It will affect peoples jobs and impact community economies. We need to understand and act to support just transitions.

 

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The need to accelerate ghg reductions is urgent, as is the need to increase resilience. Schools connect can take climate action through administration, staff, students, parents and wider community. Buildings, Transportation and Waste are target areas for climate action that are within TDSB’s control. Re-naturalizing lands can also reduce CO2. The TDSB Joint Management- Labour Environment Committee  could be a catalyst for climate action.

 

 

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