Alberta could pull itself out of its fossil-induced economic crisis by creating at least 145,000 jobs in energy efficiency, renewable energy, and sustainable transportation, and another 32,000 in wastewater and drinking water infrastructure, according to a report released last week by Greenpeace Canada.
“Fortunately, Alberta has a lot of room to move, and to create good jobs along the way,” at a time when “jobs in the fossil fuel sector no longer have the security they once had,” the report states. “The present moment is a unique and historic opportunity for Alberta to put people to work, create tens of thousands of good jobs, and address climate change and other environmental issues at the same time.”
The analysis points to the potential for 68,400 jobs in energy efficiency and conservation, 46,780 in renewable energy, and 30,000 to 40,000 in mass transit. “Investing in the low-carbon economy would put Albertans to work right away, while diversifying the economy, reducing pollution and health care costs, and building stronger and more resilient communities in the process,” state authors David Thompson and Allison Thompson.
The report comes at a time when “governments worldwide are beginning to take climate change seriously, investing in the low-carbon economy and creating millions of jobs”—7.7 million of them in 2014, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency. Clean energy already created more jobs than the tar sands/oil sands before the fossil sector began to crash, provincial leaders in Canada are working to green their energy sectors, and global economic growth is decoupling from carbon emissions.
But despite these positive signs elsewhere, Alberta “suffers from the economy’s reliance on a single resource,” Greenpeace states. “Communities that rely on single resource extraction experience economic boom and bust cycles, which cause drastic changes in employment and income, loss of social cohesion, and higher crime rates. Fortunately, there are clear steps that Alberta can take to reduce its GHG emissions, diversify the economy, and create jobs in the process.”