The Pembina Institute has tapped into the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit of Albertans to produce a job creation plan that could begin decarbonizing the provincial economy and generate 67,200 jobs—or 67% of the current fossil work force—by 2030.
Informed by “the latest market studies, development plans, and growth projections for the next decade,” the Pembina blueprint projects significant new employment in four areas of Alberta’s economy: renewable energy, transit and EV infrastructure, energy efficiency, and clean-up and methane reduction in the oil and gas industry.
Those jobs “represent a path to stable employment that is less sensitive to fluctuations in fossil fuel commodity prices,” the organization notes. The numbers represent annual full-time equivalent jobs, and do not include additional employment that could be generated by “developing industries where technologies or processes are not yet widely deployed commercially, such as carbon capture and storage, nature-based solutions, and hydrogen production.”
Coming out far ahead as a job creation engine will be renewable energy. “While the province’s solar and wind resources already attract national and local investments, a combination of environmental and economic drivers are shifting Alberta’s electricity grid toward low-carbon, decentralized generation sources,” Pembina says. “Development of renewables in Alberta could create up to 31,300 new jobs—and potentially even more if coupled with increasing policy certainty.”
Pointing to the ongoing retirement of the province’s coal plants, Pembina adds that those job numbers will “significantly offset the 2,890 jobs lost from phasing out coal.”
Transit and EV infrastructure will likewise be a significant job creator, with the number of full-time positions by 2030 clocking in at 14,500. The total include “6,700 jobs for Calgary and Edmonton light rail transit and 1,300 jobs for other transit projects,” plus “up to 6,500 jobs created to install and maintain charging infrastructure” as interest in EVs surges.
In energy efficiency, “more-stringent building standards and demands for upgrades to existing structures will require new jobs that focus on designing, constructing, and operating buildings more efficiently.” These policy changes could create another 14,500 jobs involving “\electrical and heating efficiencies in oil and gas (8,500) and in the agriculture, chemical, manufacturing, and pulp and paper industries (2,300). Efficiency efforts in the residential and commercial building sectors will create 1,700 and 2,000 new jobs, respectively.
Another 6,900 new jobs will become available in the oil and gas sector, with oil and gas well cleanups generating 6,100 positions and methane reductions producing another 800.
But it will take government policies to maximize the potential for jobs and economic growth, Pembina concludes. Key measures include carbon pricing; renewable energy policy certainty; residential, commercial, and community renewable energy programs; increased investment in transit and EVs; funding both for energy efficiency and the decommissioning and reclamation of fossil infrastructure; and meaningful methane regulation.
A just transition will also be key to supporting the province’s emerging economic growth. While Pembina praises Alberta’s commitment to phase out coal by 2030, it warns that “policies and programs are needed to support workers and communities impacted by industries that are vulnerable to an energy transition, to provide reskilling opportunities to enable workers to transition to the emerging jobs, and to ensure that the jobs created are well paid and protect workers’ rights.”