Few jobs, massive emissions from oil and gas: look to green investments for stronger economy, says report

June 12, 2012

OTTAWA—Accelerated oil and gas extraction will boost profits but won't drive major employment gains, says a report released today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA). Instead, embracing a "green industrial revolution" will allow Canada to meet its climate change commitments while boosting a lacklustre economy.

The report, by CCPA Senior Economist Marc Lee and researcher Amanda Card, finds that less than 1% of Canadian workers are employed in fossil fuel extraction and production in Canada (oil, natural gas and coal).

But these jobs come at a high price in environmental and climate terms—accounting for 27% of Canadian greenhouse gas emissions. Figures do not include the fuel content of exports, which would show these industries to be much dirtier.

Taking action on climate change would open new opportunities for economic development and prosperity in Canada, says the report.

“Canada will eventually need to shift from its policy of ignoring climate change to a commitment to significant action,” says Lee. “The good news is that Canada can derive substantial economic advantages—from the development of new green jobs to innovation to improved health outcomes—by embracing climate action.”

The report reviews key areas for growing new green jobs, and compares the employment impact of similar investments in fossil fuel and green industries. It proposes a framework for implementation of industry and employment policy changes for fair and effective climate change policies.

The report's recommendations to the federal government include:

  • Putting a price on greenhouse gas emissions and using the revenues to fund green investments and a new "carbon transfer" for low- to middle-income households.
  • Implementing a national zero-emission transportation strategy, including high-speed rail and urban public transit.
  • Developing green energy alternatives in the context of national electricity grid.
  • Greatly expanding federal actions in support of building retrofits and promotion of research and development.

The principal challenge for Canada and other countries around the world is to de-couple the economy from fossil fuels. The transition to a zero carbon Canada will take several decades, and will have transformative impact of the nature of work and employment.

“The more robust a green jobs program in delivering new employment opportunities, the smoother the transition will be,” Lee says. "A new green industrial strategy needs to be at the heart of federal policy-making."


A Green Industrial Revloution: Climate Justice, Green Jobs and Sustainable Production in Canada is available on the CCPA website: http://policyalternatives.ca

For more information contact Kerri-Anne Finn, CCPA Senior Communications Officer, at 613-563-1341 x306 or [email protected].