‘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

Canada becomes first country to sign pledge for zero emission commercial vehicles

According to Environment and Climate Change Canada, the transportation sector is Canada’s second-largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions at 24 per cent in 2017.


Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna and Equiterre co-founder Steven Guilbeault attend an announcement at global Clean Energy Ministerial meetings in Vancouver on May 29, 2019. Photo by Jennifer Gauthier

Canada has become the first country to sign on to the Drive to Zero Pledge, an international initiative aimed at increasing the number of zero and low emission vehicles in the medium- and heavy-duty transportation sector.

By signing the pledge, Canada is joining other partners, including municipal governments, in committing to eliminate barriers and implement mechanisms that accelerate the viability and growth of zero emission technology for these commercial vehicles.

“It’s so important that we look at our medium- and heavy-duty vehicles … our buses and trucks. We can be doing a lot better,” said Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna, who announced Canada’s commitment in Vancouver on Tuesday during a global clean energy summit hosted by Natural Resources Canada.

The Clean Energy Ministerial event brought government officials, clean energy experts and private sector stakeholders from more than 25 countries together to exchange ideas for advancing the global transition to a low-carbon economy.

“This is a huge opportunity,” McKenna added. “It’s the excitement about seeing [Canadian] companies … that are really moving the dial.”

The Drive to Zero Pledge is spearheaded by CALSTART, a California-based non-profit and broker for the clean transportation technology industry. The goal of the campaign is to make zero emission technology commercially viable in “beachhead” or smaller markets by 2025, building up to the domination of zero emission technology in commercial vehicle sales globally by 2040. These medium- and heavy-duty vehicles range from box trucks to school buses to eighteen wheelers.

Drive to Zero partners include cities, manufacturers, fleets, fuel suppliers, and now, Canada. The B.C. government and the City of Vancouver have also signed on. MORE

Canada’s amazing—and invisible—green energy sector

“While fighting climate change is frequently presented as a zero-sum game of environment vs. economy, the truth is that green technology innovation and the economy can get along like a zero carbon house no longer threatened by an increase in the severity and frequency of forest fires.”

Clean energy attracts billions in investment every year, employs many thousands of Canadians, and grows more than the rest of the economy. Why doesn’t Canada care?


Jason Andriulaitis checks a connection under a new solar panel installation in Scugog, Ont. on Wednesday, April 27, 2016. Installing solar panels already makes sense for most homeowners in Saskatchewan and Ontario but the abundance of cheap hydroelectricity in Quebec and Manitoba means solar power may never make much economic sense in those provinces. (Frank Gunn/CP)

This week, a barn burner of a report was released into an increasingly flammable world by Clean Energy Canada, a non-profit think tank based out of Vancouver’s Simon Fraser University. The report revealed that Canada’s clean energy sector is growing faster than the rest of the country’s economy. It turns out that the clean energy sector—arguably the unsexy sector that we don’t even notice—grew a full third, percentage-wise, more than the wider economy between 2010 and 2017.

On top of that, the clean energy sector is attracting tens of billions of dollars in investment every year, with investment rising by 70 per cent between 2010 and 2017, and $35 billion pouring in in 2017.

As of 2017, 298,000 Canadians (more than 26,000 in Alberta alone) were employed in Canada’s clean energy sector, which currently represents 3 per cent of Canada’s GDP,  or around $57 billion in 2017. For context, the direct contribution of agriculture, fishing, hunting and forestry to our nation’s economy was 2.1 per cent, and of the hotel and restaurant industry, 2.3 per cent.

In the words of Merran Smith, executive director of Clean Energy Canada, “Put simply,” the green sector is “made up of companies and jobs that help to reduce carbon pollution—whether by creating clean energy, helping move it, reducing energy consumption, or making low-carbon technologies.”

That criteria suggests a novel way of thinking. We’re basically learning a whole new classification system here because the green sector bands together a wide range of companies. Clean transport was the largest green employer, providing 58 per cent of those jobs in 2017. Renewable energy supply currently provides 40 per cent of the green sector’s GDP contribution, and while we might sort these businesses into the “transport sector” and the “energy sector” respectively and not invite them to the same parties, they are nevertheless both in the business of ensuring that Waterworld never becomes culturally relevant. MORE

RELATED:

At Vancouver’s Clean Energy Summit, Nuclear Is Making a Play

Note to ministers from 25 nations: Prepare to be dangerously greenwashed.

Canada’s clean energy sector is big, growing fast—and largely unknown

 

Here’s What a Green New Deal Looks Like in Practice


JARED RODRIGUEZ / TRUTHOUT, TOKARCHUK ANDRII / SHUTTERSTOCK

With the climate change challenge growing more acute with every passing year, the need for the adoption of a new political economy that would tackle effectively both the environmental and the egalitarian concerns of progressive people worldwide grows exponentially. Yet, there is still a lot of disagreement on the left as to the nature of the corresponding political economy model. One segment of the left calls for the complete overthrow of capitalism as a means of dealing with climate change and the growing levels of economic inequality in the era of global neoliberalism, while another one argues against growth in general.

In the interview below, Robert Pollin, distinguished professor of economics and co-director of the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, explains some issues raised by each of these positions, and how to move toward solutions grounded in a fuller understanding of economic development. MORE

EXACTLY WHAT IS “THE GREEN NEW DEAL?”

A closer look at the Democrats’ latest scheme to advance socialism.

In an October 2018 campaign appearance, Democratic darling Ocasio-Cortez – on the premise that the greenhouse gas emissions associated with human industrial activity are responsible for potentially catastrophic “climate change” – made reference to a “Green New Deal” which aims to make the U.S. 100 percent reliant on renewable energy sources (wind, water, solar) by 2035. “There’s no debate as to whether we should continue producing fossil fuels,” she said. “There’s no debate. We should not. Every single scientific consensus points to that.”

“So we talk about existential threats, the last time we had a really major existential threat to this country was around World War II…. We had a direct existential threat with another nation, this time it was Nazi Germany, and the Axis, who explicitly made the United States as an enemy, as an enemy. And what we did was that we chose to mobilize our entire economy and industrialized our entire economy and we put hundreds if not millions of people to work in defending our shores and defending this country. We have to do the same thing in order to get us to 100 percent renewable energy, and that’s just the truth of it.”

“The Green New Deal we are proposing will be similar in scale to the mobilization efforts seen in World War II or the Marshall Plan,” Ocasio-Cortez said on yet another occasion. “It will require the investment of trillions of dollars and the creation of millions of high-wage jobs. We must again invest in the development, manufacturing, deployment, and distribution of energy but this time green energy.” MORE