Upcoming federal budget should increase support for renewable energy and efficiency programs, research suggests
OTTAWA, ON — Canada's governments could create more jobs by implementing strong climate policies than by maintaining the status quo, according to a new report on the effects of climate change policies on employment released today by the Pembina Institute.
The Institute's report, Reducing pollution, creating jobs, examines the evidence from a wide range of international and Canadian research on "green" jobs and the economic impacts of climate policies.
The report's findings have important implications for the 2011 federal budget, because the Institute's analysis shows investing public dollars in renewable energy and energy efficiency generates more jobs than public spending on oil and gas extraction.
"The upcoming federal budget is a real test," said Clare Demerse, acting director of the Pembina Institute's climate program. "We know Canada needs to take stronger action to reduce greenhouse gas pollution, and the evidence shows that well-designed climate policies can create more jobs overall than business as usual."
"On budget day, the government could make the right choices for Canadian workers and our environment by cutting fossil fuel subsidies and supporting clean energy," Demerse added.
The Institute's report shows that:
- The federal government could have created nearly three times as many jobs (238,000 rather than 84,000) by dedicating 100% of the $16 billion it invested in infrastructure in its economic stimulus package to clean energy. Instead, the government invested just 8% of stimulus spending in "green" initiatives.
- International studies show that renewable energy is the pro-job choice, creating more direct jobs than generating electricity from fossil-fuel alternatives like coal or natural gas.
- Oil and gas extraction is the most capital-intensive sector in Canada. This means that investing public dollars in virtually any other sector of Canada's economy would yield more jobs for every dollar spent.
- Green jobs are not just an opportunity for the future — according to one definition, more than 682,000 Canadians already held environmental jobs in 2010, nearly five times more workers than were directly employed in automotive manufacturing in 2008.
Since some sectors or regions could see job losses or significant changes to the type of work available under stronger climate polices, the Institute's report suggests the federal and provincial governments should develop a clean energy employment transition strategy to make sure Canadians have opportunities to acquire skills and training to work in the clean energy sector, and to help communities adapt to new economic opportunities.
The Reducing pollution, creating jobs report and slideshow are available online.
Acting Director, Climate Change