A December 15 article in Energy Mix reported “More Canadians working in green jobs than in oil patch”; the National Observer wrote “ There are nearly 300,000 high-paying clean tech jobs in Canada”. Both articles were based on data released by Statistics Canada on December 13 from its new Environmental and Clean Technology Products Economic Account survey. Statistics Canada estimates that 274,000 jobs were attributable to environmental and clean technology activity in 2016, accounting for 1.5% of jobs in the Canadian economy. This represents a growth of 4.5% since 2007 – but at a time when employment in the economy as a whole grew 8.4%. The good news of the data shows higher than average annual labour compensation per job (including benefits) for environmental and clean technology jobs – $92,000, compared with an economy-wide average of $59,900. This is largely because of the inclusion of electricity and waste management – without those two sectors, the average compensation per job was $82,000.
Environmental and Clean Technology Products Economic Account, 2007 to 2016 is a 3-page summary report; full, interactive data is provided in CANSIM tables , including a separate table for employment .
Smaller employment numbers are reported by the Survey of Environmental Goods and Services (SEGS), most recently published on December 12, 2017, and providing data from 2015. Amongst the findings: “Ontario ($600 million) and Quebec ($247 million) businesses exported almost $850 million worth of environmental and clean technology goods and services in 2015. This accounted for 71.7% of all Canadian exports in this sector….. In 2015, about 11,000 people held environmental and clean technology positions in Ontario, while almost 4,000 people were employed in this sector in Quebec. Waste management services provided jobs for another 15,000 people in Ontario and 7,000 people in Quebec.” CANSIM Tables for the SEGS are here , including a table showing employment by region of Canada.
How to explain the differences? The Environmental and Clean Technology Products Economic Account includes clean energy, waste management, environmental and clean technology manufacturing industries, and technical services, which gives it a broader scope than the Survey of Environmental Goods and Services (SEGS), as explained here .
On December 9th, the Governments of Canada and British Columbia jointly announced the first annual progress report on the implementation of the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change – officially titled, the First Annual Synthesis Report on the Status of Implementation – December 2017 (English version) and Premier rapport annuel du cadre pancanadien sur la croissance propre et les changements climatiques (French version). The report summarizes the year’s policy developments at the federal and provincial/territorial level – under the headings pricing carbon pollution ; complementary actions to reduce emissions; adaptation and climate change resilience ; clean technology, innovation and jobs; reporting and oversight; and looking ahead. It is striking that the report is up to date enough to include mention of the Saskatchewan climate change strategy, released on December 4, as well as the Powering Past Coal global alliance launched by Canada and Great Britain in November at the Bonn climate talks – yet in the section on “Looking Ahead”, there is no mention of another important outcome of the Bonn talks: a Just Transition Task Force in Canada. As reported by the Canadian Labour Congress in “Unions applaud Canada’s commitment to a just transition for coal workers”, “Minister McKenna also announced her government’s intention to work directly with the Canadian Labour Congress to launch a task force that will develop a national framework on Just Transition for workers affected by the coal phase-out. The work of this task force is slated to begin early in the new year.” No mention of that, nor in fact, any use of the term “Just Transition” anywhere in the government’s progress report.
“Environment Canada touts ‘good progress’ on climate after scathing audit” appeared in the National Oberserver (Dec. 11), summarizing some of the progress report highlights and pointing out that not everyone agrees with the government’s self-assessment that “While good progress has been made to date, much work remains”. Recent criticism has come from the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development in her October report ; from Marc Lee at the Canadian Centre for Policy Analysis in “Canada is still a rogue state on climate change” (Dec.11) ; and from the Pembina Institute in State of the Framework: Tracking implementation of the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change . The Pembina Institute report calls on the federal government to speed up on all policy fronts, with specific recommendations including: “extend the pan-Canadian carbon price up to $130 per tonne of pollution by 2030, implement Canada-wide zero emission vehicle legislation, ban the sale of internal combustion engines, and establish long-term energy efficiency targets.”
One of the commitments stated in the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change was to “modernize procurement practices, adopt clean energy and technologies, and prioritize opportunities to help Canadian businesses grow, demonstrate new technologies and create jobs.” In Budget 2017, the government announced measures to support technological innovation; the section entitled ” A Nation of Innovators” includes the allocation of $50 million to launch Innovative Solutions Canada , a procurement program modelled on the U.S. Small Business Innovation Research program . On April 7, Clean Energy Canada stepped up on this issue with a policy primer to suggest best practices from around the world: The Power of Procurement: How the government can drive growth, cut carbon and create jobs
The Power of Procurement cites a 2016 OECD report which states that in Canada, the procurement of goods and services by the federal government alone accounts for approximately 13% of Canada’s GDP. With Canada`s current Green Procurement Policy established in 2006, and with our clean tech export market share declining, Canada has a lot of catching up to do. The Clean Energy Canada report offers five Best Practices for consideration as the federal government fleshes out its new Innovative Solutions Canada program . Included in the Best Practices: a focus on low-carbon as a clearly defined parameter in decisions; lifecycle costing which includes the purchase price, installation cost, operating costs, maintenance and upgrade costs, and residual value; target-setting for specific outcomes; and support for commercialization and exporting capability for small and medium sized businesses (SMEs), which dominate Canada’s cleantech sector.
In mid-March, the B.C. Cleantech CEO Alliance released British Columbia Cleantech: Status Report 2016 , the result of a survey conducted by consultants KPMG in Fall 2016. The new Status Report shows “dramatic growth” since the previous report in 2011, supporting the Alliance branding of B.C. cleantech as “the next pillar of the Canadian economy”.
Between 2011 and 2016, “the number of Cleantech companies is up 35% to 273, the number of BC-based employees is up 20% to 8,560, average wages have increased by 24% to $84,000 and the amount of equity raised is also up 25% to $6 billion.” The sector employs highly trained workers, such as engineers, designers, and sales and marketing professionals, resulting in that high average salary. 91% of companies are located in the Greater Vancouver area.
The survey respondents were only those early-stage companies whose primary purpose is developing new technologies – respondents were distributed as follows: 20% energy generation; 16% transportation; 12 % Building efficiency; 12% Resource recovery and waste management; 11% industrial efficiency; 11% water and waste water; 7% transmission and storage; 4% sustainable agriculture, and a miscellaneous 7% remainder. Given the early stage of these companies, the key focus in the survey was on the sources of finance and the business climate for entrepreneurs. Results show that there is a heavy reliance on federal and provincial government incentive programs – for example, 75% of respondent companies had applied to the Scientific research and experimental development (SR&ED) program and over half had applied to the federal Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP).
Alberta announced a new Residential and Commercial Solar rebate program on February 27, funded with $36 million from revenues from the province’s carbon levy. The government estimates that the program will stimulate up to 900 jobs in the solar sector, while reducing GHG emissions and cutting installation costs for residences by 30 per cent and for businesses and non-profits by 25 per cent. In combination with a December 2016 change to the Micro-generation Regulation , which increased the allowable capacity of micro-generation systems to five megawatts, the rebate program is meant especially to encourage solar commercial and community operations . The Pembina Institute reaction highlights the aspect of microgeneration and distributed energy; DeSmog Blog gives more details and context about the overall growth of solar in Alberta. Iron and Earth , the workers’ organization promoting the transition from oil and gas to renewables, calls the announcement a “great first step” on their Facebook page , and notes their previous call to the Alberta government for increased access to solar skills training programs.
On Febrary 28, the government issued an invitation for Albertans to register for a Residential No-Charge Energy Savings Program , encouraging all households, regardless of income, to upgrade to more energy-efficient products, including LED lights, high efficiency shower heads, and smart thermostats. Installation and product costs will be borne by the province and financed, again, through carbon levy revenues.
Finally, on March 3, Alberta announced matched funding of $10 million from the province and the federal government for a Calgary-based Alberta Carbon Conversion Technology Centre (ACCTC) . The facility will “test breakthrough technologies that convert CO2 from harmful emissions into applications for everyday use.” It will be owned and operated by InnoTech Alberta , a subsidiary of Alberta Innovates; the goal is to support “Alberta-based technology developers, as well as attracting global companies and world-class researchers to the province”. The Pembina Institute calls it “a plug and play technology sandbox” and “an excellent way to create partnerships and accelerate our learning with respect to new technologies, in order to develop emissions solutions and create economic opportunities.” The Alberta Clean Technology Industry Alliance also approves. The investment follows a February 13 meeting to expand and renew the Alberta – Canada Collaboratory on Clean Energy Research and Technology Memorandum of Understanding.