Domestic Content Requirements and Green Employment

Sustainable Prosperity, a research and policy network based at the University of Ottawa, released a policy brief in April discussing the domestic content requirements for renewable energy manufacturing in Canada. The policy brief focused on the question of whether domestic

content requirements are effective at increasing ‘green’ employment. The brief looks at various policies in effect in Canada (namely, Quebec and Ontario) and internationally, as well as international trade agreements relevant to domestic content requirements. At least in the short-run, domestic content requirements are likely to increase the cost of renewable energy generating equipment, and therefore also the developer’s cost of generating renewable energy. Depending on the type of renewable energy support policy with which the domestic content requirement is linked, this may have the effect of increasing consumers’ electricity prices, or reducing the number of renewable energy facilities built. In the last case, it is possible that the reduced renewable energy output leads to overall reductions in employment in renewable energy generation and manufacturing.



Sustainable Prosperity news release with link to policy brief:

Opportunities for Decent Work in a Green Economy

The transformation to a greener economy could generate 15 to 60 million additional jobs globally over the next two decades and lift tens of millions of workers out of poverty, according to a new report led by the international Green Jobs Initiative. The study, Working Towards Sustainable Development: Opportunities for Decent Work and Social Inclusion in a Green Economy, says that these gains will depend on whether the right set of policies are put in place. At least half of the global workforce – the equivalent of 1.5 billion people – will be affected by the transition to a greener economy. This comprehensive report touches on specifics relating to eight key sectors which are expected to play a central role and be most affected by the transition: agriculture, forestry, fishing, energy, resource-intensive manufacturing, recycling, building and transport.



Summary and overview; Working Towards Sustainable Development: Opportunities for Decent Work and Social Inclusion in a Green Economy:

Life Cycle Assessment of the Canadian Oil Sands Considered

The first section of this report discusses the basic methodology of life-cycle assessments and examines the choice of boundaries, design features, and input assumptions. The second section of the report compares several of the publicly available assessments of life-cycle GHG emissions data for Canadian oil sands crudes against each other, against those of other global reference crudes, and against those of other fossil fuel resources. The third section examines some of the specific findings of the Department of State’s commissioned study for the Keystone XL pipeline. The report concludes with a discussion of some tools for policymakers who are interested in using these assessments to investigate the potential impacts of U.S. energy policy choices on the environment.




From the Congressional Research Office in the U.S.: Canadian Oil Sands: Life-Cycle Assessments of Greenhouse Gas Emissions:

Policy Brief Compares UK and Canadian Climate Policies

Sustainable Prosperity and the University of Ottawa’s Institute of the Environment marked the 20th anniversary of the Rio Earth Summit by presenting a two-day conference, on May 1st and 2nd “Building on Rio + 20: Canada’s Role and Priorities in a Global Green Economy”, to examine the policy and economic dimensions of Canada in a global green economy. A policy brief released at the conference looks at the vast gap between the level of action and commitment in the UK when compared to Canada in terms of climate policy at the national level. The UK has an aggressive and comprehensive action plan to decarbonise its economy, whereas Canada’s Federal government is pursuing a sector-by-sector regulatory approach, with fragmented action between the Federal government and the provinces.


The United Kingdom Climate Policy: Lessons for Canada. Summary and link to policy brief:

Nova Scotia Releases Its Marine Renewable Energy Strategy

Nova Scotia released its Marine Renewable Energy Strategy in May. Wave and offshore wind power are part of the mix in the strategy, but tides are the primary focus, given Nova Scotia’s unique advantage in developing and growing a new tidal industry. The Strategy focuses on research, development, and regulatory initiatives that have been established to achieve Nova Scotia’s vision to be a global leader in the development of marine renewable energy technology and expertise for domestic and export markets. This report doesn’t go into any detail about job creation.




Nova Scotia Department of Energy website:


Nova Scotia’s Marine Renewable Energy Strategy document:

Is Canada Suffering from ‘Dutch Disease’?

Several recent studies have been in the news concerning the concept of “Dutch disease” in Canada.


Dutch Disease or Failure to Compete: A Diagnosis of Canada’s Manufacturing Woes, was published by the Institute for Research on Public Policy, and examines the linkages for 80 different manufacturing industries using an empirical model that accounts for changes in global demand and competitive pressures as well as energy-induced strengthening of the dollar. Their results show that only 25 of the 80 industries show a significant negative relationship between the US-Canada exchange rate and output – mostly small labour-intensive industries such as textiles and apparel. Interestingly in light of the recently announced layoffs at GM Oshawa, the study concludes that “automotive industries do not show symptoms of Dutch disease; their weakness stems from cyclical changes in demand and lagging productivity growth”.


The Pembina Institute and The Macdonald Laurier Institute both released their own studies on this issue on May 30. The Macdonald Laurier Institute has released a commentary titled, No Dutch Treat: Oil and Gas Wealth Benefits All of Canada. In this report, authors Robert Murphy and Brian Crowley argue that even provinces not directly involved in oil and gas enjoy large gains from such activity in other provinces.


The Pembina report, In the Shadow of the Boom: How oil sands development is reshaping Canada’s economy, reviews the extent to which oil sands production and exports are affecting Canada’s economy, and explores the longer-term economic implications of increased reliance on oil sands expansion to support economic growth and generate public revenue.




Dutch Disease or Failure to Compete? published by Institute for Research in Public Policy (IRPP):


No Dutch Treat:Oil and Gas Wealth Benefits All of Canada,

(MacDonald Laurier Study) press release and link to full document is at:


In the Shadow of the Boom: How oil sands development is reshaping Canada’s economy,

press release and link to document is at:


“Is Canada grappling with Dutch disease?” The Globe and Mail, May 16th:

Creating a Culture of Sustainability in the Health Care Sector

Embracing sustainability has tangible financial rewards and creates jobs, according to a new report by the Health Care Research Collaborative. The report, Creating a Culture of Sustainability: Leadership, Coordination and Performance Measurement Systems in Healthcare, was conducted by the Health Care Research Collaborative, a collaboration of Health Care Without Harm and the Healthier Hospitals Initiative, and sponsored by the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation in the U.S. The report found that leadership engagement and incorporation of sustainability as a high-level goal was key to the success of the program. Also found was that jobs are being created as health systems are finding that sustainability efforts need dedicated staff who are responsible for it, and cost savings inherent in sustainability help pay for these staff members as well as to make investments in other hospital programs.




Creating a Culture of Sustainability: Leadership, Coordination and Performance Measurement Systems in Healthcare. A summary of the report can be found at:


Full document:

Clean Mining Alliance Created in Vancouver, B.C.

A new industry association has been launched aimed at supporting and advocating technological advancements to make the mining industry cleaner and more environmentally responsible. The Clean Mining Alliance is a newly formed international non-profit organization based in Vancouver. Its founding members include the Centre for Environmental Research in Minerals, Metals and Materials (CERM3), part of the University of British Columbia Department of Mining Engineering.

More information on the Clean Mining Alliance, visit their website at:

or the University website (UBC CERM3) at:

Tariffs Being Applied to Chinese-Made Solar Modules

In a long-awaited decision, the U.S. Commerce Department has issued a preliminary decision on May 17 to apply tariffs to Chinese-made solar modules being imported into the U.S. The tariffs range from 31 percent to 250 percent. The preliminary tariffs were issued after a lengthy investigation by the Commerce Department into whether Chinese companies are “dumping” solar panels into the U.S. market below cost. These tariffs follow a March decision to issue small countervailing duties on Chinese module producers that are getting illegal domestic subsidies, according to Commerce. 

For a summary, see the statement by the American Coalition for Solar Manufacturing at:

A detailed technical report is available from the U.S. International Trade Administration at:

Life Cycle Thinking for a Policy Makers and Business Managers

A new European Union Joint Research Centre (JRC) report provides key information for policy makers and business managers on how to assess the environmental impacts of products and services through more consistent and better quality life cycle assessments. Life Cycle Thinking (LCT) helps to assess the sustainability of supply chains, use, and end-of-life management options for goods and services. A key component of the Europe 2020 strategy, ‘life cycle thinking’ is being used to understand the full environmental impacts of products and services, from design through produce use and end-of-life.


European Commissions Life Cycle Thinking and Assessment website:


Joint Research Centre summary with links to the LCA report:

Making Cities Resilient as Global Disaster Losses Hit $500 Billion

The UN Office of Disaster Risk Reduction has launched a new phase of the “Making Cities Resilient Campaign” which now includes 1,020 cities around the globe. The Handbook for Local Government Leaders: How to Make Cities More Resilient was officially launched as part of the world disaster reduction campaign, which has been extended to 2015. The new Handbook was developed at the request of city leaders to explain why building disaster resilience is necessary, and what kind of strategies and actions are required by cities and local governments to achieve resilience. Summary with links to the Handbook, press release and campaign information:

York University Students Can Pursue a Certificate in Sustainable Energy

Students at the undergraduate level enrolled in the Bachelor of Environmental Studies (BES) at York University in Toronto now have the option of pursuing a specialty Certificate in Sustainable Energy. This certificate program formally recognizes and integrates a suite of courses which offer BES students applied skills in the field of sustainable energy. For the Certificate in Sustainable Energy, students have the option of completing an internship placement with an organization in the sustainable energy field. At the graduate level, Master in Environmental Studies (MES) students develop their own unique areas of original research, with the possibility of internships in with both public and private organizations. The Certificate is part of the Sustainable Energy Initiative (SEI) in the Faculty of Environmental Studies (FES).   


For information on the Sustainable Energy Initiative and the Certificate in Sustainable Energy see the SEI website at:

Or the SEI brochure:

Black Out Speak Out Campaign Launched

Launched on May 7, Black Out Speak Out (or Silence, on parle! in French) invites Canadian organizations, businesses and citizens to darken their websites on June 4, to protest changes introduced in the federal government’s budget act (C-38). The Black Out Speak Out initiative is led by CAPE, CPAWS, David Suzuki Foundation, Ecojustice, Environmental Defence, Equiterre, Greenpeace, Nature Canada, Pembina Institute, Sierra Club Canada, West Coast Environmental Law, and WWF Canada.  Go to Black Out Speak Out website at: or