Climate change study will look at Fraser Valley

What effects is climate change having on the Fraser Valley’s corporate agrifood sector?

  • Apr. 18, 2011 12:00 p.m.

What effects is climate change having on the Fraser Valley’s corporate agrifood sector?

That question will be posed as part of a nationwide study, as Luis Aguiar, associate professor of sociology at UBC’s Okanagan campus, examines the agricultural industry with a focus on greenhouses in the Fraser Valley and Okanagan as part of the Work in a Warming World project.

Led by York University, Work in a Warming World investigates how workplaces of every size and type produce greenhouse gas emissions and how they can help to contain global warming. The project is developing dialogue between climate scientists, workplaces, academic researchers and non-governmental organizations, to investigate how well Canadian workplaces are assessing and responding to the impact of climate change, and propose solutions to limiting their contribution to greenhouse gases.

Aguiar’s research will look at how climate change is impacting labour processes in the agrifood sector, with emphasis on the greenhouse industry, and how corporations are attempting to minimize or reduce risk associated with environmental uncertainty.

He says there are many aspects of climate change that could impact how agrifood businesses operate.

“Agriculture in the Okanagan and Fraser Valleys depends on and is affected by many factors,” he said. “Temperature, moisture, growing season, secure export markets, and a low-wage labour supply are all important to the success of the agrifood industry. Climate change could potentially alter one or all of these, and we want to know if agri-corporations will continue to rely on foreign workers and if they will modify labour practices to offset the risk of climate uncertainty.”

Aguiar and his team will prepare a working paper which will be presented at the Work in a Warming World annual meeting this fall. His research will also include on-the-ground interviews with greenhouse industry professionals.

Research by Aguiar and others in the Work in a Warming World project will be collected and shared through academic channels, websites and blogs.

For more information on the project visit www.workinawarmingworld.yorku.ca/.