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