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Introducing the Shift Storm newsletter

A Q&A with CCPA climate researcher Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood

February 21, 2023

3-minute read

The CCPA is excited to announce Shift Storm: Transforming Work in a Changing Climate, a newsletter on work and climate change by National Office senior researcher Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood. The Shift Storm newsletter is the new home for the Work and Climate Change Report, which was published by York University from 2011 to 2021.

Subscribe to Shift Storm here

Every month, Shift Storm will discuss all the latest research and news related to work and workers in a changing climate. I recently sat down with Hadrian to talk about Shift Storm’s origins and what subscribers can look forward to.

Jon: Let’s start with context—what was the Work and Climate Change Report? And what happened to it?

Hadrian: OK, a bit of history. For more than a decade, the Work and Climate Change Report was produced as part of a long-running and well-respected research program at York University headed by the late, great Carla Lipsig-Mummé. That program went through a few iterations, including Work in a Warming World (W3) and Adapting Canadian Work and Workplaces to Respond to Climate Change (ACW). A lot of my own work on climate policy and a just transition was supported by Carla and ACW.

The Work and Climate Change Report itself was edited by the brilliant Liz Perry and, over the years, it developed a large, international audience of labour and environmental researchers who came to rely on it as a one-stop shop for the latest developments in the field of work and climate change. Unfortunately, when the ACW grant wound down in 2022 the WCR wound down with it, and that left a void for a lot of people—myself included.

Jon: So that’s where Shift Storm picks up?

Hadrian: Exactly. There was a lot of demand to keep the WCR going but it needed a new home and a new author now that Liz is enjoying a well-deserved retirement. The folks at ACW reached out to the CCPA to see if we’d be interested in taking up the mantle. As someone who’d benefited so much from the WCR I was really honoured by the opportunity.

Jon: How will Shift Storm be different from the Work and Climate Change Report?

Hadrian: At its core, Shift Storm will continue to provide the same valuable service that the WCR did. That means summarizing all the latest developments related to work and climate change from Canada and around the world. It will continue to be a one-stop shop for researchers and activists in the labour movement, environmental movement, academia and beyond.

Formally, Shift Storm is a project of the CCPA and is not associated with ACW or York University. That’s why there’s a new name, a new look, and a new home on the CCPA’s website. We’ll be experimenting with the actual format for the newsletter for the first few issues, so we’re very open to feedback from readers. We really want to hear from people about what kind of content is useful and what isn’t.

Jon: Speaking of the name, where did Shift Storm come from?

Hadrian: In our brainstorming we really liked the “climate shift, shift work” double entendre. It was my director Erika Shaker who remarked that all of the changes facing workers in a climate-wracked, decarbonizing economy amounted to a… different kind of storm. We brought “shift” back in and ran with it. To me, “Shift Storm” really captures the mess of changes facing workers in the climate crisis in a memorable way.

Jon: How long have you been active in the work and climate field, and what unique perspective do you bring to the legacy of the Work and Climate Change Report?

Hadrian: Liz did such thorough, thoughtful work that I’m not hoping to replace her. Shift Storm will definitely have my own spin. That being said, I’ve been living and breathing the Just Transition discourse for the past half decade. I’ve published a pile of reports on the issue of how best to support workers in the shift to a zero-carbon economy. I’ve been called as an expert witness before Parliamentary committees and the Auditor General. My work was even cited in the federal government’s new Sustainable Jobs Plan. I’m always keeping a close eye on new literature in the field and I’m excited to get to share that work with others.

Jon: What can subscribers to Shift Storm look forward to?

Hadrian: For other researchers, the most valuable thing is that Shift Storm will consolidate all of the important literature on work and climate in one place. It’ll really help folks in the labour and environmental movements, especially, to stay on top of key developments in the field.

But I hope Shift Storm will appeal to anyone concerned about the future of work in an economy increasingly shaped by the climate crisis. Whether you’re a worker, an activist, a journalist, a policy makers, or a concerned citizen—the inevitable transition to net-zero matters to everyone. Shift Storm will help you make sense of it all.

Subscribe to Shift Storm here

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