GLOBE-Net, March 21, 2011 - Climate change
action goes hand in hand with job creation, according to a new
report by the Pembina Institute, a Canadian not-for-profit think
The report, entitled Reducing Pollution, Creating Jobs, was
written by Clare Demerse, the acting director of the Institute's
Climate Change program.
The key, Demerse wrote, is to invest in clean energy, which she
believes the government is not doing enough of.
She also wrote that if the money the government spent on fossil
fuels had been spent on energy conservation, energy efficiency and
renewable energy, more jobs could have been created.
"If Canada fails to invest in clean
energy in a timely fashion, we risk losing out on manufacturing
jobs and export opportunities that a growing global clean energy
market can offer." Pembina Report.
According to the report, the government invested eight per cent
of its infrastructure stimulus spending on clean energy
infrastructure and ended up with a total of 84,000 new jobs
If it had dedicated 100 per cent of this money to clean energy
infrastructure, 238,000 jobs could have been created.
The report said that the agriculture, forestry, fishing and
hunting sector has 10.8 of per cent of all workers classified as
environmental employees, making it the largest provider of green
The next largest provider is the construction sector with 7.4
"There appears to be a near-consensus in literature that
renewable energy is the pro-job (more labour-intensive) choice,
creating more direct jobs than fossil-fuel alternatives," wrote
Here are some of the suggestions the report made on how Canadian
government can help increase employment:
- Publish and implement a plan to meet our 2020 emission
- Put a price on greenhouse gas emissions through a cap-and-trade
system or a carbon tax
- Develop a clean energy employment transition strategy for
Canada that would include skills development, training
programs, certification courses and transitional policies for
workers and communities whose jobs could be lost or changed
by switching to a greener economy.
The literature on green jobs and on job creation from clean
energy policies shows that there is little basis for concern that
ambitious climate policy in Canada would cause significant job
losses, according to the report.
Instead, the evidence from Canada and international studies
shows that we can tackle climate change while maintaining a growing
economy that could employ even more Canadians than 'business as
According to a 2010 survey by the Environmental Careers
Organization of Canada (ECO Canada), a not-for-profit organization
that studies Canada's environment industry, there are nearly
700,000 environmental employees in Canada.
ECO defines the environmental employee as someone who spends 50
per cent or more of their work time on activities associated with
environmental protection, resource management or environmental
In 2007, environmental employees represented 3.2 per cent of
Canada's total labour force. When the ECO report was released in
2010, they represented four per cent.
The report also noted that 44 per cent of employers in Canada
said they planned to hire environmental workers over the next four
The number of environmental jobs is increasing, but there is
concern that we are lagging behind other countries.
Gregg McLachlan, the founder of the Canadian environmental
job-hunting site WorkCabin, told GLOBE-Net that he believes the
federal government could be doing more to help bring more green
jobs to Canada.
WorkCabin is Canada's largest environment-focused job-hunting
site in Canada and receives almost 200,000 hits a month, according
to its website.
Right now, there are listings by the Vancouver Aquarium, the
Adbusters Media Foundation, the Government of Saskatchewan and Bird
Studies Canada, among others.
McLachlan said that the federal government, by protecting what
it calls its "fragile economy," is missing out on a big
"If you just stay the way you are, that economy is going to
become more in jeopardy because it's not adapting to become more
sustainable," he said.
"We need to stop making excuses and we need to start moving
forward," he added.
In Ontario, where the manufacturing industry has been hit hard,
workers have been able to transition into new
environmentally-friendly employment areas. Because there are
so many workers looking for jobs, wind turbine companies are able
to hire their work forces very quickly. "Rather than think of
this as a negative, we're seeing the province look at that as a
positive," he said.
"Other provinces are being hit by the same manufacturing losses.
So, we can fill that void with some of these green
McLachlan said that right now it's the provincial governments,
municipalities, organizations and colleges and universities that
are taking the biggest steps toward a greener economy.
"Why do we have a province like Ontario enacting a Green Energy
Act? Why aren't we seeing that kind of leadership at a federal
level?" he asked.
"If you look at some other countries around the world... you'll
see them adopting. And that's what's not happening in
The GLOBE Foundation's recently completed report on BC's Green
Economy found that many B.C. technology companies are concerned
about the future of Canada's environmental sector. The study polled
CEO's and human resource professionals across a wide range of
"Respondents said that more stringent environmental regulations
and increased incentives could help create demand for their
products and services, and indicated that a lack of government
commitment to some programs and to the enforcement of regulations
has stagnated growth in certain green industries," the report
The series of reports and studies developed for
this research project are available for download here.