VIDEO: Pressure mounts for Liberals to act on climate change as activists gear up


More than two dozen young people are facing a month-long ban from Parliament Hill after staging a climate-change protest in the House of Commons on Oct. 28, 2019. (The Canadian Press)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he heard loud and clear the message Canadians sent in the federal election for him to be bolder about climate change action.

Now young Canadians want him to prove it.

Twenty-seven youth with the group Our Time were arrested in the House of Commons on Monday morning after attempting to stage a sit-in to demand a Canadian “green new deal” be the first priority of all 338 MPs elected last week.

They had 338 letters to deliver to the new MPs that listed demands including a cut to emissions in line with international scientific consensus, respecting Indigenous rights, creating good new jobs and protecting the most vulnerable people.

Image result for Amara Possian,Amara Possian: “I support organizations that are building a just and caring society.”

Amara Possian, a campaign manager with Our Time, said in a recent blog post that the first 100 days of a new government are a critical time as the government lays out its plans and priorities. With the Liberals held to a minority, they will need support from other parties to pass legislation and stay in power, which many environment groups see as leverage to push the Liberals to do more on climate change.

 

Niklas Agarwal, a 24-year-old recent geography graduate from Toronto, said minority governments have given Canada progressive programs like universal health care, and feels a minority government can deliver a green new deal in Canada.

“This is a generational crisis and I’ve never felt the urgency of anything else in my life,” said Agarwal, clutching the trespassing ticket that bars him from returning to Parliament Hill for the next 30 days.

The protesters gained access to the House of Commons by joining a regular visitors’ tour, then sitting down on the floor once and refused to move. Within minutes, Parliamentary security officers forced them to leave. Some protesters were dragged out by their arms, while others were lifted up to their feet and forced to walk out. MORE

The idea of a green new deal comes mainly from Democrats in the United States who introduced resolutions in Congress last winter. The NDP co-opted the term in its campaign rhetoric, and the Green Party described their climate change plan, named “Mission: Possible,” as Canada’s green new deal.

Dan Woynillowicz, policy director at Clean Energy Canada, said the term “green new deal” may not take hold in Canada because it is too aligned with the United States. But he said if you look at where the Liberals, NDP and Green platforms align on climate change, there are “the makings of an agenda” that cuts emissions deeper and faster, and supports affected Canadian workers through the transition.

In particular, the parties aim to cut emissions in line with what the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says is needed to keep the world from warming much more than 1.5 C compared to pre-industrial times. Investments in public transit, planting trees, encouraging electric vehicle use and investing in clean energy technologies are all among their common platforms.

Woynillowicz said he expects the Liberals to move quickly on their promised bill to legislate a fair transition for energy workers because that could help generate some good will in western Canada for climate action. Beyond that, the promised legislation to set five-year emissions targets and report publicly on progress would also be expected early, said Woynillowicz.

 

More than half a million Canadians could work in clean tech by 2030: report

Montrealers of all ages marching in the climate change strike in downtown Montreal on Sept. 27, 2019.
Montrealers of all ages marching in the climate change strike in downtown Montreal on Sept. 27, 2019. Tim Sargeant / Global News

Half a million Canadians will likely be employed in the clean energy sector by 2030, a new report suggests.

Clean Energy Canada, a non-partisan clean technology research group based at Simon Fraser University in B.C., issued the study, titled The Fast Lane, which follows up on a report released earlier this year tracking the historic growth of the industry and the nearly 300,000 people it employs in Canada.

In its new report, the group forecasts the Canadian clean tech industry will grow four times faster than the industrial average over the next 20 years and create a total of 160,000 new jobs, bringing the number of Canadians employed in clean tech to 559,400.

In net terms, that would be an increase of 110,000 jobs, since the report also predicts roughly 50,000 fossil fuel jobs will be lost in the next 10 years as that industry contracts at a rate of roughly 0.5 per cent each year and shifts towards automation.

That’s compared to what the group projects as growth of 3.5 per cent each year in the clean tech sector.

“The world is transitioning to clean energy with or without Canada, and we still can be an energy leader in the decades ahead,” said Merran Smith, executive director of Clean Energy Canada. MORE

 

‘Job intensive:’ Study says clean energy fast track to employment growth


Some of the 30,000 solar panels that make up the Public Service Company of New Mexico’s new 2-megawatt photovoltaic array in Albuquerque, N.M. on April 20, 2011. File photo by The Associated Press/Susan Montoya Bryan

New research says job growth from clean energy will dramatically outpace that from fossil fuels over the next decade — as long as future Canadian governments maintain or increase attempts to fight climate change.

“The clean-energy sector is a good-news story that no one’s talking about,” said Merran Smith of Clean Energy Canada, a think tank based at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia. “There is nothing to fear about moving forward on climate action.”

Earlier this year, the group released research that found Canada’s clean-energy sector — which encompasses renewable energy and energy conservation — had already produced 300,000 jobs by 2017.

Further study made public Wednesday projects job growth in the sector to significantly outperform most other parts of the economy.

Using recognized economic modelling tools, it suggests that direct jobs from clean energy will grow at a rate of 3.4 per cent a year between 2020 and 2030. That’s nearly four times the Canadian average.

The same models suggest fossil fuel industries will slowly lose jobs over that time.

Smith said the data shows clean energy employment could reach nearly 560,000 by the end of the next decade. That’s 160,000 new jobs, more than enough to make up for the 50,000 jobs which fossil fuels are expected to shed.

The study also forecasts money flowing into clean energy will grow 2.9 per cent a year. Fossil fuel investment is expected to shrink.

Fossil fuels will be bigger than clean energy for years to come. But what the research shows, Smith said, is that new jobs and growth will come from the latter.

“The fast lane is clean energy,” she said. “This is where we’re seeing job growth.”

Her conclusions are in broad agreement with others in the field.

“Deep decarbonization will be job intensive,” said Mark Jaccard, an energy economist at Simon Fraser University.

Fossil fuel alternatives require more labour, he said.

Kent Fellows of the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy agreed. He said studies in British Columbia, which has had a carbon tax for more than a decade, suggest climate measures didn’t cost jobs and may have added some.

“They show that either you’re pretty stable or maybe you’ve got a little bit of an increase in employment,” he said. “The fears of losing jobs everywhere are probably misguided.”

The British group Carbon Tracker has found that while solar and wind provide only three per cent of global energy, they account for one-quarter of all new generation. And few of the world’s cars are electric, but they make up 22 per cent of sales growth.

Automation is removing jobs from the oilpatch. Between 2014 and 2016, Alberta’s production grew by nearly 10 per cent but 39,000 fewer people were employed.

Smith points out the modelling assumes that Canadian climate measures either stay in place or are increased — an assumption which the current federal election campaign has thrown in doubt.

“We’ve got three parties that are not only committing to keep these policies but build on them,” Smith said. MORE

Why a ‘just transition’ doesn’t have to pit jobs against the environment

Many labour groups support Paris targets, global climate strikes


A study by Clean Energy Canada found that the clean-energy sector was growing at a faster rate than the rest of the economy. (Mike Blake/Reuters)

One of the recurring themes among some politicians and business leaders is that climate change presents a binary choice between preserving jobs or the environment.

But that’s not the way Dwaine MacDonald sees it. MacDonald is one of the co-founders of Trinity Energy Group, a company based in Stellarton, N.S., that makes commercial and residential buildings more energy-efficient, through better insulation and thermal barriers. And business is very good.

To give a sense of Trinity’s expertise, in 2010, the company worked on a 14-bedroom farmhouse that every year required 14 cords of wood and two barrels of oil for their heating needs. Trinity’s retrofit brought it down to four cords of wood and half a barrel of oil.


Dwaine MacDonald established Trinity Energy Group in 2006, and the business has grown to 80 employees since then. (Submitted by Shelby MacDonald)

This example shows why the International Energy Agency has identified energy efficiency as one of the most effective ways of reducing carbon emissions. It also shows why a concerted transition to a low-carbon economy can be beneficial to both the environment and blue-collar and unionized workers, including those in the fossil fuel industry.

Since MacDonald and his partners launched the company in 2006, Trinity has grown to 80 full-time employees — and he estimates that about a quarter of them are people who were let go from, or simply left, jobs in the Alberta oilsands.

“I could be hiring more people if I could keep up with the demand,” said MacDonald. “It’s slowing us down right now, just trying to find the right people.”

As a sign of labour’s stake in the environmental challenge, Unifor, the largest private-sector union in Canada, voted to join the global climate strikes scheduled to take place across the country and around the world, on Sept. 20 and Sept. 27.

Major unions in France, Germany and Italy have also announced their intent to join the climate strikers.

Changing tone

The working class is increasingly on-side with climate action, said Jamie Kirkpatrick, program manager at Blue Green Canada, an organization that advocates for workers and the environment, and is aligned with Unifor and the United Steelworkers.

But Kirkpatrick acknowledges there is “fear and concern” among some workers about what a transition to a low-carbon economy means for them. Part of that has to do with the sometimes abrasive tone of climate activists.


Trinity’s specialty is making homes and businesses more energy efficient, which the International Energy Agency has identified as one of the best ways to reduce carbon emissions. (Submitted by Shelby MacDonald)

“I think a lot of environmental efforts were focused on ‘shut this thing down,’ ‘phase this out,’ ‘get rid of that dirty, nasty industry,'” said Kirkpatrick. “And I think we’ve learned a lot about how everybody involved is a human being, and we could talk about [a transition] in a more human way.”

You can see that more measured tone in the messaging of the federal Green Party, for example. The party’s platform includes halting federal subsidies to the oil sector and cancelling the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project as part of a larger effort to drastically reduce Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions.

But Green Party Leader Elizabeth May has stressed “we are not at war with fossil fuel workers. We are not at all willing to leave any part of Canada or any community behind.”

Kirkpatrick said his organization strives to “make the connections, and make it true that you can have a good job and a healthy environment.” SOURCE

 

How energy efficiency can upgrade Canada for the future

Reducing energy waste and boosting energy productivity will also help industry get ahead, writes Joanna Kyriazis and Merran Smith of Clean Energy Canada. CC0 Photo by Pixabay

They may not make many headlines, but policies that help Canadians and businesses waste less energy are a win-win.

Families want lower utility bills. Businesses want to cut costs and improve productivity and competitiveness. And we all want to eliminate pollution and live in a cleaner environment. Put simply, improving energy efficiency achieves all of the above.

The federal government has introduced a number of policies under the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change aimed at energy efficiency. These include measures to make new buildings more energy efficient, retrofit existing buildings, improve energy efficiency for appliances and equipment, support energy efficiency in Indigenous communities and improve industrial energy efficiency. More recently, we’ve seen the introduction of additional programs to retrofit homes, schools, community organizations and affordable housing developments. These will seriously help reduce pollution while also helping Canadian homes and businesses save on energy costs — with real economic benefits to boot.

Clean Energy Canada is a think tank at Simon Fraser University focusing on the clean energy transition and the right measures to accelerate it. To that end, as part of our series to help Canadians better understand pre-existing federal climate policies, we’ve broken down the benefits of energy efficiency in Canada.

The pollution-fighting benefits

Buildings currently account for 12 per cent of Canada’s overall emissions. If you add indirect emissions from using electricity, that share jumps to 17 per cent. Heavy industry such as mining, pulp and paper, and cement production — used in many buildings — accounts for another 10 per cent. Improving energy efficiency can reduce energy waste and cut emissions across the board. Current efficiency measures are expected to reduce national emissions by52 million tonnes, or 25 per cent of the way to our 2030 Paris targets.

The cost-cutting benefits

Efficiency measures help Canadians save on utility bills. According to analysis by Clean Energy Canada, the energy efficiency measures in the pan-Canadian framework are projected to save the average household $114 a year over the lifetime of the measures.

And the benefits reach beyond buildings. Reducing energy waste and boosting energy productivity will also help industry get ahead. Canada’s energy-intensity-per-unit GDP is higher than the U.S., Europe and Japan. This is a competitive disadvantage. Energy efficiency measures help our businesses improve their energy productivity, which in turn makes them more competitive. Our analysis shows that commercial and industrial savings could amount to $3.2 billion across Canada by 2030.

The economic benefits

Making homes and businesses more energy efficient also represents a big economic opportunity. Between 2017 and 2030, Canada’s GDP will see a net increase of $356 billion (or 1 per cent) thanks to the energy efficiency measures in the pan-Canadian framework. Every $1 spent on energy efficiency programs generates $7 of GDP.

Companies in the business of energy efficiency include those focused on improving home energy systems. Toronto’s Ecobee, for instance, is a leading provider of smart thermostats. Then there’s Fredericton-based Stash Energy, which makes home heating and cooling more affordable using “smart” heat pumps with built-in thermal energy storage systems that allow homeowners to store energy during cheap off-peak hours for use during peak hours. B.C.-based MineSense, meanwhile, helps mining operators cut both costs and emissions by improving how efficiently mining operators process iron ore. MORE

Clean power, right in the heart of fracking country

“Along with other early adopters of clean energy across the country, Don Pettit has helped lay the groundwork for an industry that now attracts tens of billions of investment dollars each year.” 


The Bear Mountain wind project in BC. Photo by Don Pettit

Pettit has noted intrusive, disturbing changes to those rural lands in the decades since he first arrived in Dawson Creek.

“Since then it’s been a steady stream of industrialization… but the biggest shift imaginable has been the arrival of the fracked gas industry. There’s flares blasting away, and they stink, and surveillance cameras with lots of ‘No Trespassing’ signs. Some of my favourite spots are essentially destroyed.”

“Everything was rolling along nicely. We could have had factories producing wind blades, and we were on the verge of launching a major wind industry with thousands of jobs in B.C.. But just as it started to get going they dropped it.”

“Wind prospectors were coming into the region from all over the world. We wanted to tap into that and try to make at least one of these wind facilities at least partially locally owned — which we did. And I think we set a very high standard for community-supported wind development.”

Their ground-breaking work led to PEC’s inaugural green energy project, the Bear Mountain Wind Park, being fully commissioned in 2009, even as fracking activity was peaking in the Peace. B.C.’s first large-scale wind park at 102 megawatts, it stands a few kilometres south of Dawson Creek and continues to power the South Peace region.

And then, in 2010, things inexplicably went south.

Along with other early adopters of clean energy across the country, Pettit has helped lay the groundwork for an industry that now attracts tens of billions of investment dollars each year. A report issued last week by Clean Energy Canada, entitled Missing the Bigger Picture, calculates that the renewable energy sector employed about 300,000 workers in Canada in 2017 and has significantly outcompeted the rest of the economy in growth.

Yet Pettit has noted intrusive, disturbing changes to those rural lands in the decades since he first arrived in Dawson Creek.

“Since then it’s been a steady stream of industrialization… but the biggest shift imaginable has been the arrival of the fracked gas industry. There’s flares blasting away, and they stink, and surveillance cameras with lots of ‘No Trespassing’ signs. Some of my favourite spots are essentially destroyed.”

The potential health benefits of a transition to renewable appear similarly impressive. A 2016 Pembina Institute analysis estimated that by phasing out coal-fired power entirely by 2030, 1,008 premature deaths, 871 ER visits and $5 billion worth of negative health outcomes would be avoided between 2015 and 2035. And unlike the air and water contaminants emitted by coal and natural-gas plants that sicken local populations and warm the planet, Pettit enthuses that solar energy has “no moving parts and no pollution.” in energy price so communities can build business plans. No such program exists in B.C..

“Alberta has a program called community capacity building. It’s about communities wanting to replace some of the power that they’re using with solar, but they can also make them bigger than they need and put extra power into the grid and get paid for it.”

One significant benefit is a locked-in energy price so communities can build business plans. No such program exists in B.C..

When asked what the provincial government could do to promote its spread, he answers without hesitation. Instead of spending billions on Site C to power the fracking industry, which he says would mostly benefit big corporations in the short term, it could offer small, targeted incentives.  MORE

Clean energy one of Canada’s fastest-growing industries

 

Prince Edward County could easily become carbon emissions free by 2030, add 3,5018.45 megawatts of carbon free energy at no cost to taxpayers, create life-enhancing  local jobs, add tax revenue, and open the County to green energy investment. What’s lacking? Political  imagination and leadership.

Merran Smith, Executive Director of Clean Energy Canada, speaks about the provincial government’s CleanBC plan aimed at reducing climate pollution, during an announcement in Vancouver, on December 5, 2018. File photo by The Canadian Press/Darryl Dyck

Canada’s clean-energy sector is growing faster than the economy as a whole and is rivalling some of the more well known industries for jobs, a new report shows.

Clean Energy Canada, a think-tank at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, is releasing a study today it commissioned to try to paint the first real picture of an industry it feels nobody knows much about but that is critically important to the future both in terms of climate change and the economy.

“Other countries actually keep this data and Canada doesn’t,” said executive director Merran Smith.

People talk about the clean-technology sector often but clean energy encompasses more than high-tech firms making hydrogen fuel cells and electric cars, said Smith.

She said clean energy includes everything from the production and transmission of renewable electricity to transit workers and construction workers making buildings more energy-efficient. So a hydroelectric-dam operator, a bus driver, and the person who installs a high efficiency furnace would all be included in Clean Energy Canada’s job count.

All told, the study concluded, nearly 300,000 Canadians were directly employed in clean energy in 2017, nearly 100,000 more than Statistics Canada data said worked in mining, quarrying, and oil-and-gas extraction. There are 7.5 times as many people working in clean energy as in forestry and logging.

Smith said the goal of the report is to show Canadians just how big a piece of the economic pie clean energy represents. MORE