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Clean Energy Provided More Jobs Last Year Than Oilsands: Report

Canada’s rapidly developing green energy industry has seen investments of more than $24 billion in the past five years while employment in the sector increased by 37 per cent during the same period, according to a report released Tuesday by Clean Energy Canada.

According to the report, impressive growth in the emerging sector has been achieved despite frustratingly inadequate federal support on things such as tax incentives and research promotion.

Surging employment growth last year in the clean energy sector — encompassing manufacturing, power production, energy efficiency and biofuels — accounted for more direct Canadian jobs than in the oilsands, the report added.

The 34-page Tracking the Energy Revolution — Canada report noted that there were 23,700 total direct jobs in the green energy sector in 2013, compared to 22,340 jobs in the oilsands.

“The global clean energy revolution isn’t a future scenario. It is underway right now, and it presents huge potential benefits for Canadians,” Merran Smith, director of Clean Energy Canada, said in an accompanying media release.

Image from Tracking the Energy Revolution report.

Remewable growth and investment in Canada, 2009-2013. Image from Tracking the Energy Revolution report.

The report’s release comes during the annual United Nations climate change conference taking place in Lima, Peru.

Wind power, solar, run-of-river and biomass have grown by 93 per cent since 2009, the report said, and in 2013, Canada jumped from 12th to seventh place in the G20 countries for clean-energy investment.

As an example of the rapid growth, the report added, one new wind turbine was installed in Canada every 10 hours last year.

In all, the report said, investments in clean energy in Canada totalled $6.5 billion last year, with $3.6 billion going to wind power and $2.5 billion to solar.

Giving credit to Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia for tapping into the benefits of the booming renewable energy sector, the report noted the industry needs stronger federal backing to meet its tremendous potential across the nation.

“Despite that incredible track record, in some respects Canada is still swimming upstream,” Smith said. “Unlike our American friends, where the clean-energy opportunity is clearly a national priority, our federal government’s approach could only be described as indifferent.”  

Canada has more than enough renewable energy to provide all the energy needs of its citizens and industry, added the report.

“Like virtually every national government around the world, Ottawa could be doing more to support clean energy and cut carbon pollution,” the report said. “But unlike some of our peers, the evidence shows that Ottawa needs to be doing a great deal more. So far, federal efforts on climate and clean energy simply aren’t getting us where the government said we would go.”

To help promote Canada’s clean energy transition, the report recommended Ottawa provide the green sector with the same sort of tax incentives and research support it made available for development in the oilsands.

The report also recommended a “Building Clean Energy Fund” be established to support transmission lines, smart grids, infrastructure for electric vehicles and cutting-edge clean energy projects across the nation.

Lastly, the report said the federal government should put a price on carbon pollution, an act that would make clean energy choices more competitive and give fossil fuel users an incentive to be more efficient.

“Speeding up Canada’s energy transition would clean up our power grids and transportation systems, but would also help Canadian companies prosper in the fast-growing global clean energy marketplace,” Smith added.

DeSmog Canada wrote about a related Clean Energy Canada report in September that said renewable energy and other low-carbon technologies are now a successful mainstream business with investors spending $207 billion USD in the global sector last year.

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