Cutting Carbon Could Create Nearly 1 Million Jobs in B.C. by 2050: New Analysis

British Columbia has been praised the world over for its wildly successful carbon tax which, according to polls, the majority of British Columbians actually like paying.

Now a new analysis shows that B.C.’s efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions is compatible with growing jobs and a strong economy in coming decades.

The report by Clean Energy Canada shows that while pursuing strong climate policies the province could add 270,000 new jobs to the market by 2025 and possibly triple that figure to 900,000 by 2050.

The analysis, conducted by Navius Research, also found the economy would enjoy steady growth, about two per cent per year, at the same time as bringing new opportunities to sectors and communities across the province.

We hear a lot of fear mongering claims that climate action is going to hurt our economy. But this research shows the opposite,” Merran Smith, executive director of Clean Energy Canada, said. “We found that B.C. can cut carbon pollution — and still create hundreds of thousands of new jobs across all sectors and see the same level of economic growth we would otherwise. That’s a big win for British Columbians, for businesses, and for our climate.”

In other words, climate leadership pays off,” Smith said.

This past summer’s wildfires and drought “provide a glimpse of the costs in store for our province as the climate becomes increasingly unstable,” the report states.

Cutting carbon pollution goes hand-in-hand with building a strong economy, the report argues.

Leading on climate and building a prosperous economy are two sides of the same coin,” Smith said.

By 2020 B.C. plans to reduce emissions 33 per cent from 2007 levels. And under the targets agreed to under the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Targets Act, the province plans to reduce emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.

However, according to Environment Canada, B.C. is on track to increase greenhouse gas emissions 11 per cent by 2020 (from 2005 levels, which the federal government uses).

According to Matt Horne, policy analyst with the Pembina Institute, B.C.’s natural gas and LNG aspirations will make it impossible for the province to meet its targets.

The Clean Energy Canada analysis says a number of new B.C. jobs will remain in the traditional natural resources and natural gas sectors. By 2025 an estimated 35,000 jobs will be added to these sectors.

Looking out to 2025 and beyond, iconic industries like forestry, mining and agriculture remain important and healthy in a context where B.C. remains a climate leader. The main difference is these industries will produce less carbon pollution,” the report states.

A more aggressive push into clean energy markets “means some industries will transition and transform, and new opportunities will emerge,” the report’s authors write.

B.C. could take advantage, like many other countries, of the opportunities in clean technology, low-carbon, and sustainable energy markets.

In the past year we have seen significant leadership on climate from many of our trade partners, including China, the U.S. and India,” Smith said. “This report shows that further leadership on climate action in B.C. will bolster our reputation and reinforce our competitive advantage as the rest of the world continues to act.”

Clean Energy Canada recommends B.C. set strong standards that require buildings, vehicles and industry to emit less. At the same time, more clean economy investment is needed to keep businesses competitive.

Premier Christy Clark will join incoming Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Paris this fall for the COP21 climate talks. Global leaders plan to leave the negotiations with a binding international climate agreement beyond 2020.

Image: Green Energy Futures