The Green Jobs Advantage: How Climate-friendly Investments Are Better Job Creators was co-published by the International Trade Union Confederation, the World Resources Institute and the New Climate Economy, and released in mid-October. The paper reviews a dozen studies from 2009 to 2020 and compares the job creation projections in Brazil, China, Indonesia, Germany, South Africa, South Korea, the United States and globally. The analysis of these studies compares near-term job effects from clean energy versus fossil fuels, public transportation versus roads, electric vehicles versus internal combustion engine vehicles, and nature-based solutions versus fossil fuels – with the conclusion that greener investments create more jobs, dollar for dollar. The report also addresses the issue of job quality, and notes that in developing countries, many jobs are informal and temporary, with limited access to work security, safety, or social protections. In developed countries, “new green jobs may have wages and benefits that aren’t as high as those in traditional sectors where, in many cases, workers have been able to fight for job quality through decades of collective action.” One conclusion: “ Government investment should come with conditions that ensure fair wages and benefits, work security, safe working conditions, opportunities for training and advancement, the right to organize, and accessibility to all.”
Net Zero in 2050: A roadmap for the global energy system was released by the International Energy Agency on May 18, and has been described as a “bombshell”, and a “landmark”. Why? The normally conservative IEA describes the global energy future bluntly and urgently, calling for “…. from today, no investment in new fossil fuel supply projects, and no further final investment decisions for new unabated coal plants. By 2035, there are no sales of new internal combustion engine passenger cars, and by 2040, the global electricity sector has already reached net-zero emissions.”
This special report claims to be “ the world’s first comprehensive study of how to transition to a net zero energy system by 2050 while ensuring stable and affordable energy supplies, providing universal energy access, and enabling robust economic growth.” It sets out 400 indicators for “an economically productive pathway to 2050”, where energy production will be dominated by renewables instead of fossil fuels. The report also flags and discusses bioenergy, carbon capture, and behavioural changes as “key uncertainties” for the future.
Highlights from the discussion of employment in Chapter 4:
- In 2021, approx. roughly 40 million people work directly in the oil, gas, coal, renewables, bioenergy and energy network industries .
- By 2030 in the Net Zero scenario, 30 million more people will be working in clean energy, efficiency and low‐emissions technologies.
- By 2030, employment in oil, gas and coal fuel supply and power plants will decline by around 5 million jobs.
- Nearly two‐thirds of workers in the emerging clean energy sectors will be highly skilled by 2030, and the majority will require substantial training.
- The new jobs created in the net zero economy will have more geographic flexibility. Around 40% are jobs located close to where the work is being done, e.g. building efficiency improvements or wind turbine installation, and the remaining are jobs tied to manufacturing sites.
Summaries and reaction to the IEA report:
“Planet’s pathway to net-zero means no new oil and gas spending, IEA says” in the Globe and Mail
“Nations Must Drop Fossil Fuels, Fast, World Energy Body Warns” in the New York Times
“No new investment in fossil fuels demands top energy economist” in The Guardian
“IEA: Tripling the Speed of Efficiency Progress a Must for a Net-Zero Carbon World“ from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) outlines the report’s findings regarding energy efficiency
Reaction by Oil Change International describes the importance of the adjustment to the IEA modelling – it follows years of campaigning by climate advocates through the FixTheWEO campaign, calling for the IEA to align its annual World Energy Outlook (WEO) report with the 1.5 degree C Paris Agreement goals.
The Sierra Club U.S. report How to Build Back Better: A 10-year Plan for Economic Renewal is a blueprint for economic renewal – in which the environmental advocacy group continues to demonstrate clear support for the needs of workers. Released in March, this report includes a call for public investments which “must come with ironclad labor and equity standards to curb racial, economic, and gender inequity instead of reinforcing the unjust status quo.” To support the job quality theme, the Sierra Club also released a 1-pager titled Cross-cutting environmental, labor and equity standards and a 3-page summary titled Why Standards Matter, an overview of job quality issues .
Briefly, the Sierra Club recommends a pandemic recovery plan which would create over 15 million good jobs, based on public investment of $1 trillion per year for ten years. Investments would go to many sectors including infrastructure and clean manufacturing, but also the care sector and the public sector. In addition to job creation, the plan addresses systemic racism, supports public health, and cuts climate pollution nearly in half by 2030. The economic renewal plan is based on the THRIVE Agenda, which is itself based on job projections and modelling by academics at the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI), led by Robert Pollin. Their latest analysis was published by PERI as Employment Impacts of Proposed U.S. Economic Stimulus Programs (March 2021). Sierra Club released a 3-page summary of job projections; an interactive Jobs Calculator ; and Fact Sheets for each of the sectors considered: regenerative agriculture, clean energy, care and public sector, transportation, manufacturing, buildings, and clean water for all, and pollution-free communities. All these accompanying documents, along with the full report, are available here.
THRIVE stands for “Transform, Heal, and Renew by Investing in a Vibrant Economy” and is summarized in the Sierra Club press release of March 25. The coalition has grown out of the Green New Deal Network, itself a coalition of 15 U.S. organizations that are focused on combating social inequity and environmental destruction through political action.
As construction of the Trans Mountain expansion continues and the British Columbia government weighs the risks of potential oil spills, protests against the project continue. “Tiny House Warriors And Braided Warriors Accomplices Lock Down On Trans Mountain Site” (Sparrow Project, April 3) describes the protest by those supporting the resistance of the Secwepemc First Nations – also as described in “ ‘We Will Not Stop’: First Nations Land Defenders Take Direct Action Against Trans Mountain Pipeline” in Common Dreams (April 3) . In what they call a “deep dive”, The Tyee and Investigate West co-published “For BC’s Two Pipeline Fights, It’s Spring Forward”, which delves into the many actors in the continuing opposition to Trans Mountain and the Coastal Gas Link pipelines. Also in The Tyee, “Youth Climate Activists Aim to Rally Support for Indigenous Land Defenders” describes the March 19 Global Climate March protest by Sustainabiliteens in Vancouver. The National Observer maintains an archive of articles documenting Trans Mountain developments, here. Amidst it all, the provincial government weighs granting an environmental certificate re protections for oil spills, as explained in “B.C. relying on the federal shoreline protections for Trans Mountain pipeline it previously called inadequate” in The Narwhal .
An academic report, released on March 31, supports the protests with financial and cost benefit analysis, as summarized by the CBC here. Evaluation of the Trans Mountain Expansion Project is written by lead author Thomas Gunton, Director of Simon Fraser University’s School of Resource and Environmental Management. The report concludes that continuing the construction of the Trans Mountain Expansion project will bring a net cost to Canada of $6.8 billion under base case assumptions – with the possibility of costs running as high as $13.3 billion “….because the TMEP capacity is not required and therefore does not generate a benefit. Oil transported on TMEP could have been transported on other pipelines without expending funds building TMEP. Therefore, continuing to build TMEP as currently proposed is not in Canada’s public interest and the project should not proceed further.”
Much has changed since Professor Gunton’s previous evaluation in 2017 of the Trans Mountain expansion project, including the federal government’s purchase of Trans Mountain in 2018. The 2021 report, Evaluation of the Trans Mountain Expansion Project is highly critical of the previous assessments by the National Energy Board, used to justify the purchase – and makes specific note of how the NEB distorted job projections provided by the Conference Board of Canada to overestimate the job benefits. The December 2020 report of the Parliamentary Budget Office found that the Trans Mountain Expansion profitability was dependent on climate change policies – so the Gunton report updates the PBO analysis by taking into account the climate change policies announced in the December 2020 Healthy Environment Healthy Economy climate plan. Finally, it provides detailed cost benefit analysis both for completion and for termination of the TMX project – incorporating environmental costs, including the risks of pipeline spills. Regarding employment benefits, the analysis finds modest positive benefits, given the existing recession in the oil and gas sector.
“A potential benefit of TMEP is providing employment to workers. As discussed in Section 3.2.6 of this report, the measure of employment benefits is not the gross number of jobs generated by TMEP but is instead the net employment and income gain of employees of TMEP relative to what they would have made if TMEP did not proceed. Historically, the economy of Western Canada has been characterized by tight labour markets in which most employees are employed. Under full employment, projects like TMEP would simply draw employees from other jobs with little to no net employment benefit. However, given the current recession and recent slowdowns in the energy sector and the potential of TM training and hiring employees through impact benefit agreements, there will likely be an employment benefit, with some hiring of persons who would otherwise be unemployed or employed at a lower wage.” (p.45).
Efficiency Canada has released its 2020 Energy Efficiency Scorecard , self-described as “a comprehensive benchmarking of provincial energy efficiency policies.” The 2020 edition is the 2nd produced, and has expanded to include new information on Indigenous energy efficiency, heating fuel savings, building code adoption activities, active transportation, and geo-targeted efficiency. A complex website offers a database with policy summaries sorted by province and by policy areas: energy efficiency, enabling policies, buildings, transportation, and industry. Provincial fact sheets describe and rank each province, with British Columbia retaining its rank as #1 in Canada, followed by Quebec ; Nova Scotia ; Ontario, which dropped from third place in 2019 to fourth rank; Prince Edward Island (highlighted as most improved province); Manitoba ; New Brunswick in 7th place; Alberta (slipped from 6th to 8th place); Newfoundland and Labrador at 9th, and in last place, Saskatchewan. The press release notes that “All provinces have significant room to improve. On a scale with 100 available points, the highest score this year is 58 and the lowest 17. ”
Efficiency Canada is housed at Carleton University’s Sustainable Energy Research Centre. The website also offers two highly useful reports: Less is More: A win for the economy, jobs, consumers, and our climate: energy efficiency is Canada’s unsung hero (co-published by Clean Energy Canada and Efficiency Canada in 2018) and The Economic Impact of Improved Energy Efficiency in Canada Employment and other Economic Outcomes from the Pan-Canadian Framework’s Energy Efficiency Measures, prepared for Clean Energy Canada by Dunsky Consulting in April 2018.
Impacts of the Reimagine Appalachia & Clean Energy Transition Programs for Ohio: Job Creation, Economic Recovery, and Long-Term Sustainability was published by the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) in October, written by Robert Pollin and co-authors Jeannette Wicks-Lim, Shouvik Chakraborty, and Gregor Semieniuk. To achieve a 50 percent reduction relative to 2008 emissions by 2030, the authors propose public and private investment programs, and then estimate the job creation benefits to 2030. “Our annual average job estimates for 2021 – 2030 include: 165,000 jobs per year through $21 billion in spending on energy efficiency and clean renewable energy; 30,000 jobs per year through investing $3.5 billion in manufacturing and public infrastructure. 43,000 jobs per year through investing $3.5 billion in land restoration and agriculture. The total employment creation through clean energy, manufacturing/infrastructure and land restoration/agriculture will total to about 235,000 jobs. “
There are almost 50,000 workers currently working in the Ohio fossil fuel and bioenergy industries, with an estimated 1,000 per year who will be displaced through declining fossil fuel demand. As he has before, Pollin advocates for a Just Transition program which includes: Pension guarantees; Retraining; Re-employment for displaced workers through an employment guarantee, with 100 percent wage insurance; Relocation support; and full just transition support for older workers who choose to work past age 65. The report estimates the average costs of supporting approximately 1,000 workers per year in such transition programs will amount to approximately $145 million per year (or $145,000 per worker).
Using an identical structure, the same authors modelled a Green Recovery program for Pennsylvania, released as a preliminary document, Impacts of the Reimagine Appalachia & Clean Energy Transition Programs for Pennsylvania. They estimate that, “as an average over 2021 – 2030, a clean energy investment program scaled at about $26 billion per year will generate roughly 174,000 jobs per year in Pennsylvania.”
The authors estimate that oil and natural gas consumption in Pennsylvania will fall by 40 percent by 2030, and coal will fall by 70 percent, resulting in the loss of 2,870 fossil fuel-based jobs per year between 2021 – 2030. Given the demographic composition of the workforce, they estimate that 1,056 workers in the industry will voluntarily retire – leaving 1,814 workers per year who will experience displacement (0.03 percent of the total workforce). Just Transition measures similar to those called for in Ohio are presented, with the statement that “the overall costs of providing these displaced workers with generous just transition support will be trivial relative to the size of Pennsylvania’s economy. The just transition program should be financed jointly by federal and state government funding sources.” More detailed costing is promised when the final study for Pennsylvania is released.
The Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) at University of Massachusetts has published related studies in a “Green Growth” series, available from this link. States studied are Colorado (2019) , Maine (August 2020), New York (2017), and Washington State (Dec. 2017). In September 2020, PERI released Job Creation Estimates Through Proposed Economic Stimulus Measures, in which Robert Pollin and Shouvik Chakraborty modelled the impact of a $6 trillion, 10-year economic stimulus program for clean energy and infrastructure across the U.S.
A study released by the Economic Policy Institute in Washington D.C. on October 20 examines the employment impacts of trade and investment policies proposed by the Alliance for American Manufacturing, in combination with a modified version of policies proposed by the Sierra Club – $2 trillion over 4 years invested in infrastructure, clean energy, and energy efficiency improvements. The EPI report, Rebuilding American manufacturing—potential job gains by state and industry, Analysis of trade, infrastructure, and clean energy/ energy efficiency proposals, concludes that the combined trade policy reforms and clean economy investments would result in 6.9 million direct and indirect jobs by 2024. Noting that 91.6% of clean energy and energy efficiency investments are for manufactured products, the authors further forecast what industries and sub-sectors would benefit, with state-by-state statistics. They conclude that, of the 6.9 million forecast jobs, 2.5 million would be widely distributed across the U.S. in the manufacturing industry, with 36.4% concentrated in high-wage jobs.
The Sierra Club proposals underlying the EPI scenario were made to the U.S. Congress during their deliberations on the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act , in April 2020. These proposals were also analyzed by Pollin and Chakraborty in a report published in September by the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) at University of Massachusetts Amherst . The Pollin Chakraborty report, Job Creation Estimates Through Proposed Economic Stimulus Measures , used a 10 year time frame, investing $683 billion per year in infrastructure, clean energy and energy efficiency, as well as agriculture and land restoration programs and, notably, the “Care economy, public health, and postal service” . Their resulting projection of 16 million new jobs appears in the platform of the THRIVE Agenda , an economic renewal plan for the U.S. created in September 2020 by the Green New Deal Network and endorsed by more than 100 climate justice, civil rights and labour organizations.
Final note: Robert Pollin , Noam Chomsky, and C.J. Polychroniou released a new book in September, Climate Crisis and the Global Green New Deal: The Political Economy of Saving the Planet, published by Verso Press.
The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) released three reports in September. Growing a Greener Economy: Job and Climate Impacts from Energy Efficiency Investments considers policy proposals for investments in homes and commercial buildings, electric vehicles (EVs), transportation infrastructure, manufacturing plants, small businesses, states, and cities. Those investments are projected to achieve 660,000 added job-years in the U.S. until 2023, and 1.3 million added job-years over the lifetime of the investments and savings. In addition, the proposed programs would result in 910 million tons of lifetime reduced carbon dioxide emissions and $120 billion in lifetime energy bill savings for consumers. A 3-page Fact Sheet summarizes findings.
A second ACEEE report released in September identifies the skills required to ensure a workforce prepared to build and maintain highly energy efficient buildings. Training the Workforce for High-Performance Buildings: Enhancing Skills for Operations and Maintenance is summarized in this blog . The report includes a literature review and responses to a survey of 111 building owners/managers, operators, tradespeople, technicians, and service providers. 92% of survey respondents ranked operations and maintenance (O&M) skills as most critical. The report provides an insight into the job duties and tasks, as well as an overview of the state of education and training in the U.S., and case studies of exemplary training programs . The main recommendation: utilities, program administrators, and policymakers should establish skill and credentialing standards . Training the Workforce for High-Performance Buildings: Enhancing Skills for Operations and Maintenance is available from this link (registration required).
Finally, Programs to Promote Zero-Energy New Homes and Buildings identifies and analyzes twenty programs in British Columbia, Washington, D.C., and 12 other U.S. states. British Columbia’s Zero Energy Challenge is briefly highlighted- an incentive program and juried design competition for buildings built to the highest standard of the B.C. Building Energy Step Code . (Much more detail is available at the Net-Zero Ready Energy Challenge website and the BC Energy Step Code website, which includes case studies). The ACEEE report highlights as “particularly notable” the Energy Trust of Oregon commercial program, NYSERDA multifamily and commercial programs, and Efficiency Vermont programs addressing single-family housing, multifamily housing, modular housing, and commercial buildings.
Canadians were generally relieved and positive when Prime Minister Trudeau announced the energy-related provisions of the federal Covid-19 Economic Response Plan on April 17, with this statement: “Just because we’re in a health crisis, doesn’t mean we can neglect the environmental crisis.” The economic stimulus included $1.72 billion to clean up orphan or inactive wells in British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan, which the government claims “ will help maintain approximately 5,200 jobs in Alberta alone.” The second initiative is $750 million to create an “Emissions Reduction Fund” to help oil and gas companies meet federal methane-reduction standards. The announcement is summarized in a CBC report and an article in the National Observer , which also summarizes some of the generally positive reactions from environmental groups. Press releases by Stand.earth and Clean Energy Canada reflect that generally-held relief that the government had resisted the extensive lobbying from Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) – as outlined in a memo leaked by Environmental Defence Canada – and appeared to have listened to the voices of Canada’s clean energy advocates.
An April 17 press release from Climate Action Network Canada embodies a more cautious reaction:
“While we acknowledge and appreciate what this cash infusion achieves – stimulating the economy through well-paying work, while repairing ecosystems damaged by oil and gas operations – we expect to see the federal government hold companies accountable by making enforcement of existing regulations meant to require those companies to clean up orphaned materials and restore land and waterways a condition of its support to the government of Alberta. We will be watching how fiscal measures available through Export Development Canada (EDC) and Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) will further support the government’s stated commitment to using COVID-relief public money to move Canada further along its path to a more sustainable and resilient net-zero economic future.”
Many of these same concerns appear in an Opinion piece by Dianne Saxe, the former Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, “Canada’s murky bail-out deal for oil and gas will cost us all” (in the National Observer, April 21) . Saxe begins with: “it is shameful that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is using your tax dollars to bail out the oil and gas exploration and production industry, perhaps the wealthiest and most polluting industry in human history.” She credits the “one good program” to be the $200 million loan to Alberta’s Orphan Well Association because it is structured as a loan, to be repaid under the oversight of a special committee which will include local and Indigenous representatives. As for the $750 million Emissions Reduction funding, Saxe criticizes the terms as unclear, and objects to the roles of the Alberta government, the Export Development Corporation and the Business Development Bank of Canada whose previous oil-friendly financial record she documents.
Finally, Saxe objects to the lost opportunity – suggesting other, more impactful ways to spend the economic funds, and stating:
“These multi-billion dollar bailouts …. are one of the most expensive and polluting ways of protecting jobs. As well as their mountain of debt, the oil and gas extraction industry creates a puny 2.7 jobs per million dollars of output, while pumping out 704 tonnes of greenhouse gases for each full-time job.”
This job creation estimate is based on research by Eric Miller, in an unpublished presentation: The Pandemic from an Ecological Economics perspective: Assessing consequences and appraising policy options (March 31 2020). More related resources are here .
A report published by the International Council on Clean Transportation in March, “Simulating zero emission vehicle adoption and economic impacts in Canada”, was researched by Navius Research of Vancouver. Using economic modelling, Navius forecasts that, even with current policies in place, the ZEV economy in Canada will grow to $43 billion of GDP and 342,000 workers by 2040. With stronger policies, that job creation potential could approach 1.1 million people by 2040.
The employment forecast accompanies a White Paper by the International Council on Clean Transportation which analyzes sales and production trends for conventional and electric vehicles in Canada. It finds that Canada is the 12th largest vehicle producer in the world, but it’s production of electric vehicles is 80% lower than the global average, at only 0.4% of the total. The report, Canada’s role in the electric vehicle transition states that the most important action Canada can take to encourage production is grow its domestic electric vehicle sales market. It also recommends: ….. “Supply-side policies such as research and development funding, loan guarantees, and tax breaks for manufacturing plants are warranted” and “domestic manufacturing requirements for the procurement of public transit vehicles can serve to increase production of electric buses in Canada.” In addition, “Canada can build on its early leadership in developing and producing hydrogen fuel cell technology—especially for heavy-duty vehicles. … hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are likely to play a critical role in Canada’s on-road freight sector…”
In February 2020, the Canadian Urban Transit Research and Innovation Consortium (CUTRIC) announced the creation of North America’s first-ever cluster of post-secondary institutions dedicated specifically to researching battery electric and fuel cell electric buses. Canadian manufacturers already producing electric buses include New Flyer Industries, Nova Bus, GreenPower Motor Company, and The Lion Electric Company, as well as U.S. -owned Proterra.
Environmental benefits of electric vehicles and heat pumps
A technical study led by researchers from the Exeter University, University of Nijmegen, and Cambridge University used life cycle analysis to show that in 53 out of the 59 regions studied, electric-powered vehicles and heat pumps generated less carbon dioxide than cars and boilers powered by fossil fuels. The only exceptions came in the heavily coal-dependent regions of Poland. “Net emission reductions from electric cars and heat pumps in 59 world regions over time” appeared in Nature Sustainability in late March, and is summarized in The Guardian as “Electric cars produce less CO2 than petrol vehicles, study confirms” (Mar. 23). The Guardian article emphasizes that this study is proof against a campaign of disinformation which has slowed the acceptance of these two technologies – and which they address in an accompanying primer, “How Green are Electric Cars?”
On November 14, Bernie Sanders and Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez led a press conference to announce the introduction of the Green New Deal for Public Housing Act in the United States Senate, under Sanders’ sponsorship. The Bill would eliminate carbon emissions from federal housing, invest approximately $180 billion over ten years in retrofitting and repairs, and create nearly 250,000 decent-paying union jobs per year, according to the many summaries which appeared: for example, in Common Dreams . Bernie Sanders’ press release is here, linking to the legislation, summaries, and a list of the 50 organizational supporters. Co-sponsors named are Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).
As stated in a press release, progressive think tank Data for Progress “conducted policy and public opinion research to support this pathbreaking progressive legislation, which advances housing, racial, economic, environmental and climate justice together.” The Green New Deal for Public Housing Act can stand up to Scrutiny reports the results of the political polling done by Data for Progress. A related article, “Why Bernie Sanders and AOC are targeting public housing in the first Green New Deal bill” in Vox contends “By starting with housing, the legislators appear to be trying to make inroads with a broad political base and avoid some of the more contentious aspects of the Green New Deal, like the transition away from fossil fuels. That issue in particular has divided labor unions because it would lead to the end of mining and drilling jobs.”
Data for Progress also conducted economic research which “shows that a ten-year mobilization of up to $172 billion would retrofit over 1 million public housing units, vastly improving the living conditions of nearly 2 million residents, and creating over 240,000 jobs per year across the United States. These green retrofits would cut 5.6 million tons of annual carbon emissions—the equivalent of taking 1.2 million cars off the road. Retrofits and jobs would benefit communities on the frontlines of climate change, poverty and pollution and the country as a whole. Our analysis shows the legislation would create 32,552 jobs per year in New York City alone. A large portion of the jobs nationally—up to 87,000 a year—will be high-quality construction jobs on site at public housing developments.” A Green New Deal for New York Housing Authority (NYHCA) Communities report is now available, and a National report is forthcoming- until then, data is available here .
California Offshore Wind: Workforce Impacts and Grid Integration is a report released on September 27 by the Center for Labor Research and Education at University of California, Berkeley, in partnership with Energy and Environmental Economics Inc. The report seeks to quantify what benefits for workers and communities would emerge from a major offshore wind power sector, given that the depth of California’s waters require floating platform wind installations, and floating wind is in its infancy. (According to the report, the only commercially operating project now is the 30 MW Hywind project , opened in 2017 off the coast of Aberdeen, Scotland). The author interviewed union leaders, offshore wind industry participants, workforce training professionals, and port and transportation specialists for their firsthand accounts of the impacts of offshore wind, as well as analyzing the research to date on the economic and employment impacts of the fixed-bottom offshore wind industry around the world. A press release provides an executive summary of the report.
The conclusion: state policy intervention is a crucial determinant of the level of benefit for offshore wind. Excerpts from the report: The largest economic benefits would occur “if an in-state supply chain were developed for the primary components of wind turbine generators—blades, nacelles (hubs), and towers—as well as the floating platforms, thus creating thousands of manufacturing and construction jobs. But the offshore wind industry is highly globalized, with its supply chain centered in Europe, and by the mid-2020s, China is likely to become a major exporter of wind components. … policymakers should set a clear goal for offshore wind as part of the long-term renewable energy planning process (for example, a mandate for at least 8 GW over a decade). If the offshore wind planning process were to evolve in a more piecemeal basis, without strategic direction or fixed targets, wind developers and manufacturers would lack incentive to make major California investments…. Although the state has a strong workforce training system, including the construction industry’s state-certified apprenticeships, skills gaps are likely to be a challenge for offshore wind on the North Coast. The state should consider creating a High-Road Training Partnership (HRTP) for offshore wind to fill these gaps and broaden community access to offshore wind jobs. HRTPs are a new state program of industry‐specific training programs that prioritize job quality, equity, and environmental sustainability.”
Two new economic studies project the potential for growth in the clean energy sector to 2030 in Canada and in Nova Scotia.
On October 3, Vancouver-based Clean Energy Canada announced its new report, The Fast Lane , which predicts that “ Canada’s clean energy sector will employ 559,400 Canadians by 2030—in jobs like insulating homes, manufacturing electric buses, or maintaining wind farms. And while 50,000 jobs are likely to be lost in fossil fuels over the next decade, just over 160,000 will be created in clean energy—a net increase of 110,000 new energy jobs in Canada.” That translates into a job growth rate of 3.4% a year for clean energy from 2020, compared to an overall job growth rate of 0.9% for Canada as a whole and a decline of 0.5% a year for the fossil fuel sector.
Navius Research conducted the economic modelling underlying The Fast Lane, as well as a May 2019 Clean Energy Canada report, Missing the Bigger Picture , which reports on clean energy investment and jobs from 2010 to 2017. The more detailed economic modelling reports by Navius are available as Quantifying Canada’s Clean Energy Economy: A forecast of clean energy investment, value added and jobs , and Quantifying Canada’s Clean Energy Economy: An assessment of clean energy investment, value added and jobs (May).
The message for policy-makers is made clear in the introduction to The Fast Lane by Merran Smith, Executive Director of Clean Energy Canada: “The sector’s projected growth is modelled on policy measures either in place or announced in early 2019 at both federal and provincial levels. If climate measures are eliminated—as we’ve recently seen in Alberta and Ontario—our emissions will go up and Canadians working in clean energy could lose jobs.”
An article in The Energy Mix summarizes The Fast Lane . It quotes Lliam Hildebrand, Executive Director of Iron and Earth , a worker-led non-profit which promotes upskilling and retraining for fossil fuel workers: “It’s really important for people to know that most fossil fuel industry workers are really proud of their trades skills and would be excited—and are excited—about the opportunity to apply those skills to building a sustainable energy future …. But they need support in making that transition.”
A similar message comes through in “After oil and gas: Meet Alberta workers making the switch to solar” , an article in The Narwhal which profiles three workers who have transitioned from jobs in the fossil fuel industry. The article also summarizes the policy environment in Alberta, where according to Statistics Canada, roughly 1 in every 16 workers in Alberta is employed in the category described as “forestry, fishing, mining, quarrying, oil and gas.” The Narwhal quotes Rod Wood, national representative from Unifor, who states that the global energy transition “is going to happen in spite of Alberta…You’re either part of the conversation or you’re lunch. It’s just going to steamroll over you.” And Mark Rowlinson of the United Steelworkers Union and BlueGreen Alliance Canada states: “ The market tends to move with its own feet. If the market sees that the future of the fossil fuel industry is not looking great, it will move quickly… And it will move without a plan. That means there will be wreckage left behind it, and that’s what we need to try to avoid.”
Clean economy policies could bring 180,000 jobs to Nova Scotia by 2030:
Nova Scotia’s Ecology Action Centre submitted what it calls a “Green Jobs Report” to the province’s consultation on its proposed Environmental Goals and Sustainable Prosperity Act, just ended on September 27. EAC proposed six policy choices, including supplying 90% of the province’s electricity from renewables by 2030, with a summary here. A detailed report, Nova Scotia Environmental Goals and Sustainable Prosperity Act: Economic Costs and Benefits for Proposed Goals was prepared by economic consultants Gardner Pinfold and estimates the benefits of each proposal, with the conclusion that the proposed policies could create over 15,000 green jobs per year in Nova Scotia, for a total of just less than 180,000 job-years between now and 2030.
Construction and Carbon: The Impact of Climate Policy on Building in Canada in 2025 is a report released on May 1 by the Smart Prosperity Institute, with a title that doesn’t reflect the full range of the study. The report actually models the effect of carbon pricing on GDP and employment in six sectors, although construction is the focal point since the research was financed by the Canadian Building Trades Unions. Author Mike Moffatt uses the general equilibrium model gTech to project two scenarios for the medium term (2025) : a “business as usual” case (which assumes federal and provincial carbon policies as they existed in 2018) and an “aggressive” case, which assumes carbon prices increasing over time so that Canada would achieve its Paris Agreement commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2030.
Smart Prosperity emphasizes that “the construction sector is one of the ‘winners’ of carbon pricing, as escalating carbon prices unleash a wave of business and household investment.” Specifically, raising the stringency of carbon prices (the aggressive scenario) shows that the total number of jobs in Canada would increase by an 39,500 – 19,000 of which would be in construction, and 55,000 of which would be in services. These gains are offset by job losses in the other sectors: utilities, resources, manufacturing, and transportation. Projections are broken down by province: showing that for construction jobs, Saskatchewan would see the greatest growth, followed by Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick, Alberta, and British Columbia.
The report also provides forecasts for: Investment by sector; Impact of Higher Carbon Policies on Business Investment by Type (e.g. renewable energy, CCS, public transit); and Impact of Higher Carbon Policies on Household Investment by Type (building efficiency, low-carbon vehicles).
The differentiated effect of carbon taxes by sector is a theme explored in an earlier Smart Prosperity working paper Do Carbon Taxes Kill Jobs? Firm-Level Evidence from British Columbia , released in March 2019 as part of the Clean Economy Working Paper series. The Smart Prosperity Institute is based at the University of Ottawa.
Called both a strategy document and a guidebook, Real People Real Change: Strategies for Just Energy Transitions was officially launched at the Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue event on April 10, although published by The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) in December 2018. The IISD says “it is intended to support governments of both developed and developing countries in their efforts to make energy transitions just. It brings together political and communications strategies for a just transition, building on research and case studies of energy transitions that have happened or that are happening in Canada, Egypt, Indonesia, India, Poland and Ukraine.” The report highlights what it calls “a common “4C” framework that has been critical to several successful transitions: understanding the local context; identifying champions that can drive transition with various groups; making the case through transparent and effective stakeholder engagement; and developing complementary policies that support those who will be directly impacted by transition.
The report also includes Annex 1: Quantitative approaches for estimating
employment impacts, which provides a brief overview and critical analysis of the unique challenges of measuring the transition pathway through its stages.
The 5th Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue (BETD) included a side event, Shifting to Below 2°C Economies: Strategies for just energy transitions, summarized here. Amongst the speakers: Hassan Yusseff, President of the Canadian Labour Congress, and Samantha Smith, Director of the Just Transition Centre.
A newly-released book, Achieving the Paris Climate Agreement Goals, provides detailed discussion of the the implications, including job implications, of a transition to 100% renewable energy. The book’s findings are summarized by Sven Teske of the Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology Sydney, in “Here’s how a 100% renewable energy future can create jobs and even save the gas industry”, which appeared in The Conversation (Jan. 23). That article states: “The world can limit global warming to 1.5℃ and move to 100% renewable energy while still preserving a role for the gas industry, and without relying on technological fixes such as carbon capture and storage, according to our new analysis.” The scenario is built on complex modelling – The One Earth Climate Model – and foresees a gradual transition from gas to hydrogen energy, so that “by 2050 there would be 46.3 million jobs in the global energy sector – 16.4 million more than under existing forecasts…. Our analysis also investigated the specific occupations that will be required for a renewables-based energy industry. The global number of jobs would increase across all of these occupations between 2015 and 2025, with the exception of metal trades which would decline by 2%. ”
The article summarizes a book with a daunting title: Achieving the Paris Climate Agreement Goals: Global and Regional 100% Renewable Energy Scenarios with Non-energy GHG Pathways for +1.5°C and +2°C . It is the culmination of a two-year scientific collaboration with 17 scientists at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), two institutes at the German Aerospace Center (DLR), and the University of Melbourne’s Climate & Energy College, with funding provided by the Leonard DiCaprio Foundation and the German Greenpeace Foundation. It was published in January 2019 by Springer as an Open Access book , meaning it is free to download the entire book or individual chapters without violating copyright. Of special interest: Chapter 9, Trajectories for a Just Transition of the Fossil Fuel Industry , which provides historical production data for coal, oil and gas production, discusses phase-out pathways for each, and concludes with a discussion of the need “to shift the current political debate about coal, oil and gas which is focused on security of supply and price security towards an open debate about an orderly withdrawal from coal, oil and gas extraction industries.”
The data presented in Chapter 9 form the foundation of Chapter 10, Just Transition: Employment Projections for the 2.0 °C and 1.5 °C Scenarios . This consists of quantitative analysis, ( the overall number of jobs in renewable and fossil fuel industries) and occupational analysis – which looks into specific job categories required for the solar and wind sector, and the oil, gas, and coal industry. The chapter provides projections for jobs in construction, manufacturing, operations and maintenance (O&M), and fuel and heat supply across 12 technologies and 10 world regions. The conclusion: “Under both the 1.5 °C and 2.0 °C Scenarios, the renewable energy transition is projected to increase employment. Importantly, this analysis has reviewed the locations and types of occupations and found that the jobs created in wind and solar PV alone are enough to replace the jobs lost in the fossil fuel industry across all occupation types. Further research is required to identify the training needs and supportive policies needed to ensure a just transition for all employment groups.”
On June 7, the European unions IG Metall and IndustriAll Europe released a report which models the employment impacts of the possible fuel efficiency standards required to further decarbonize the European automotive industry. The report, whose title translates as Effects of vehicle electrification on employment in Germany, presents three scenarios: the first, close to existing regulations, will require a 2030 automotive fleet consisting of 15% plug-in hybrids and 25% battery-electric vehicles, and is forecast to result in an 11% loss of employment by 2030, or 67,000 jobs. The second and third scenarios predict even more job loss – 108,000 or 210,000 across Europe.
In a press release announcing the study, the automotive advisor of IG Metall and chairman of the automotive committee of IndustriAll Europe says: “We fully support the evolution towards a new automotive paradigm, but this has to happen in a socially acceptable way. …. It will require the combination of industrial and employment strategies. Mass training programmes will be needed while ambitious reconversion plans should avoid the decline of regions…. In this respect we should not forget that many regions all over Europe are heavily integrated in the automotive supply chains. Equally, we should not forget that thousands of SMEs producing conventional components are at risk as they miss the necessary financial resources, the research capacity and the technologies to invest in alternative products. Also, the aftermarket and its 4m jobs will be severely disrupted as electric vehicles require much less maintenance”.
The report is not available in English, but is summarized in the press releases by IndustriAll and by IG Metal (in German, use the “translate” feature) . It was initiated by IG Metall, along with car manufacturers BMW, Volkswagen and Daimler, automotive suppliers Robert Bosch, ZF Friedrichshafen, Schaeffler, and Mahle and the German Association of the Automotive Industry. Research was conducted by the Fraunhofer Institute for Ergonomics and Organization (IAO) in Stuttgart , using data from the companies involved.
In March 2018, IndustriAll announced that it was one of the stakeholders in a newly-approved EU Blueprint for Sectoral Cooperation on Skills in the automotive industry (part of the New Skills Agenda for Europe). The March press release characterized the automotive sector as “in turmoil because of so many structural changes taking place at the same time: the ever stricter emission standards and the resulting quest for alternative powertrains, the digitalisation of production processes, automated driving, the increasing connectivity of cars with the outside world, development of mobility as a service.”
A new report from a new organization: on May 3, Clean Energy Canada announced that it had partnered with a new national policy organization, Efficiency Canada, to publish a study of the economic impacts of energy efficiency for Canada. The report’s title tells the story: Less is More: A win for the economy, jobs, consumers, and our climate: energy efficiency is Canada’s unsung hero .
There are two scenarios reported: The first, modelling energy efficiency programs in the Pan-Canadian Framework (“PCF”) , estimates that every $1 spent on energy efficiency programs generates $7 of GDP, and an average of 118,000 jobs per year will be created between 2017 and 2030. Jobs would be spread across the country and the economy, with about half of new jobs produced in the construction, trade and manufacturing sectors, peaking in 2027 and 2028. The overall economic impact is largely driven by energy cost savings – for consumers, $1.4 billion per year (which translates into $114 per year per household). For business, industry and institutions, the savings are estimated at $3.2 billion each year. Importantly, the PCF energy efficiency programs could reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by approximately 52 Mt by 2030, or 25% of Canada’s Paris commitments.
For the second, more ambitious policy scenario, “PCF+”, the net increase in GDP grows to $595 billion, employment gains are over 2,443,500 job-years in total from 2017 to 2030, and greenhouse gas emissions are reduced by 79 Mt, or 39% of Canada’s Paris commitment.
Less is More is only 8 pages long. The detailed results, as well as explanation of the modelling assumptions, are found in the Technical Report , produced by Dunsky Energy Consulting of Montreal, commissioned by Clean Energy Canada and Efficiency Canada. The technical report modelled the net economic impacts of energy efficiency measures related to homes, buildings and industry (not included: the transportation sector, nor electrification and fuel switching in the building sector). Modelling was done for two scenarios: implementation of programs in the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change (PCF), and a PCF+ scenario, which includes all the PCF programs plus “best in class” efficiency efforts , derived from exemplary programs across North America.
Efficiency Canada , the national policy organization launched on May 3, is based at Carleton University in Ottawa and is the new incarnation of the Canadian Energy Efficiency Alliance. From the new website: “Efficiency Canada advocates to make our country a global leader in energy efficiency. We convene people from across Canada’s economy to work together to advance policies required to take full advantage of energy efficiency. And we communicate the best research out there to build a more productive economy, sustainable environment, and socially just Canada.” To read their full story, go to their webpage, Who is Efficiency Canada ?
On May 1, the Parkland Institute and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives co-released the latest report for the Corporate Mapping Project. Canada’s Energy Outlook: Current Realities and Implications for a Carbon-constrained Future is described in the press release as “ a definitive guide to Canada’s current energy realities and their implications for a sustainable future, taking a detailed look at Canadian energy consumption, renewable and non-renewable energy supply, the state of Canada’s resources and revenues, and what it all means for emissions-reduction planning.”
The title of the press release is instructive: “Pipeline feud underscores need for evidence-based energy strategy” – Canada’s Energy Outlook is an attempt to inject facts into the current emotion-charged debate about the TransMountain pipeline and the role of oil and gas in Canada; in doing so, it counters many of the pro-pipeline claims, including the job creation claims. For example, Chapter 2, “Non-renewable energy supply, resources and revenue” states: “Oil and gas jobs are a relatively minor overall component of the Canadian economy: 2.2% of Canada’s workforce was employed in oil, gas and coal production, distribution and construction in 2015. Of these jobs, 52% were involved in construction, most of which were of a temporary nature. In Alberta, 6.3% of jobs were involved in fossil fuel production and distribution, and a further 6.6% in related construction.”
A commentary titled “Politics versus the future: Canada’s Orwellian energy standoff” discusses the pro-pipeline arguments being made by Alberta and the federal government in light of their incompatibility with our emissions reductions targets, but acknowledges the insufficiency of our renewable energy supply as yet. It concludes: “ Some environmental groups assert that it will be relatively easy to swap out fossil fuels for renewable energy – wind, solar, biomass, biofuels and geothermal energy. That is unlikely given the scale of such a transition. Renewable energy can certainly be scaled up a lot, along with geothermal energy for heating and cooling, but we will likely need fossil fuels for decades to come as we make the transition.”
The report was written by David Hughes, an earth scientist,well-known energy expert, and author of several related reports, including Can Canada Expand Oil and Gas Production, Build Pipelines and Keep Its Climate Change Commitments? (2016).
Decent Work in the Green Economy, released on October 11 , combines research on green transitions worldwide with the reality of labour market trends in Ontario, and includes economic modelling of Ontario’s cap and trade program, conducted by EnviroEconomics and Navius Research. The resulting analysis identifies which sectors are expected to grow strongly under a green transition (e.g. utilities and waste management and remediation), which will see lower growth (e.g. petroleum refining and petrochemical production), and which will see a transformation of skills requirements (e.g. mining, manufacturing, and forestry). Section 3 of the report discusses the impacts on job quality (including wages, benefits, unionization, and job permanence), as well as skills requirements. The general discussion in Section 3 is supplemented by two detailed Appendices about the employment impacts by economic sector, and by disadvantaged and equity-seeking groups (which includes racialized workers, Indigenous people, workers with disabilities, newcomers, women, and rural Ontarians.) A final Appendix describes the modelling behind the analysis, which projects employment impacts of low carbon technologies by 2030.
The paper calls for a comprehensive Just Transition Strategy for Ontario, and proposes six core elements illustrated by case study “success stories”. These case studies include the Solar City Program in Halifax, Nova Scotia, (which uses local supply chains and accounted for local employment impacts), and the UK Transport Infrastructure Skills Strategy (which incorporated diversity goals and explicit targets in workforce development and retraining initiatives). An important element of the recommended Just Transition Strategy includes a dedicated Green Transitions Fund, to transfer funding for targeted programs to communities facing disproportionate job loss; to universities or colleges to provide specialized academic programs; to social enterprise or service providers to carry out re-training programs; to directly impacted companies to invest in their employees; and to individuals in transition (much like EI payments).
The authors also call for better data collection to measure and monitor the link between green economy policies and employment outcomes, and better mechanisms for regular, ongoing dialogue. This call for ongoing dialogue seems intended to provide a role for workers (and unions, though they are less often mentioned). The authors state: “No effort to ensure decent work in the green economy will be successful without meaningfully engaging workers who are directly impacted by the transition, to understand where and how they might need support. Just as important will be the ongoing engagement with employers and industry to understand the changing employment landscape, and how workers can best prepare for it.” And, on page 39, “Public policy will be a key driver in ensuring that this transition is just and equitable. …. Everyone has a role to play in this transition. Governments, employers, workers, unions and non-profit organizations alike must remember that if we fail to ensure that the green transition is just and inclusive, we will have missed a vital opportunity to address today’s most pressing challenges. But if we design policies and programs that facilitate this transition with decent work in mind, they have the potential to benefit all Ontarians.”
Decent Work in the Green Economy was published by the Mowat Centre at the University of Toronto, in cooperation with the Smart Prosperity Institute at the University of Ottawa. In addition to economic modelling, the analysis and policy discussion is based on an extensive literature review as well as expert interviews and input from government, industry, labour and social justice representatives. Part of the purpose of the report is to initiate discussion “between those actively supporting the transition to a green economy and those advocating for decent work” as defined by the ILO. Further, the report states: “ Importantly, this conversation must address the need for equal opportunities among historically disadvantaged and equity-seeking groups who currently face barriers to accessing decent work.”