Taken from the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions Website
Published Dec 4, 2014
According to Clean Energy Canada, green energy is putting lie to the belief that it is fossil fuels, and not renewables, that bring prosperity and jobs. According to a new report out Tuesday, direct jobs in the country’s green energy sector in 2013 number 23,700 (including clean energy, clean transport, services and equipment manufacturing) while direct oil sands jobs are just 22,300. $25 billion has been invested in the fast emerging Canadian cleantech sector during the past five years, and its employment numbers have risen 37 per cent. Revenues from oil certainly provide riches, around $3.5 billion to the Alberta treasury alone each year, and the report doesn’t tally indirect jobs, which Alberta claims are well over 100,000 for oil sands. Yet creating direct employment is one of the most impactful things any industry can do to create value, and the green energy sector is clearly doing this.
So is it possible that the oil sands aren’t the only route to energy riches in Canada? Capital Economics, a London firm, said that the $40-dollar-a-barrel price plummet for oil may cut government revenues from the industry and hurt the companies’ bottom line - but it also translates into something like $1.3 trillion in energy savings for Canadian consumers. This is about 1.7 per cent of Canada’s GDP. One example is fuel costs: a litre of gas in Victoria, BC, has dropped from about $1.30 / L three months ago to around $1.14 / L this week, which means losses for industry and government but fuel savings of about 12 per cent in the pockets of every Victoria driver. But there is one dubious symbol of the decline of the price at the pump: an uptick in SUV sales. That hasn’t affected sales of ‘green’ cars however, at least not yet: electric vehicle sales in Canada are increasing. But there can be no doubt that cheaper gasoline, should it persist, will make such purchases less attractive in coming months. Canada’s cleantech industry includes manufacture of fully electric vehicles like New Flyer’s electric buses that went into service in Winnipeg last week, as well as widely distributed manufacture of smaller vehicles and components. Continuing growth of this sector depends at least in part on the incentive that an accelerating price of liquid fossil-fuels presents; the current decline jeopardizes what has been a welcome switch toward adoption of cleaner transportation technologies.