A concerted switch to a low-carbon economy could create enough construction jobs alone by 2050 to hire everyone unemployed in the country today, a new report from the Columbia Institute estimates.
The B.C.-based think tank investigated the potential on behalf of Canada’s Building Trades Unions (CBTU) alliance and its 14 member organizations. “A low-carbon economy could create almost four million direct building trades jobs by 2050—and that’s a conservative estimate,” The Tyee reports. “These jobs include boilermakers, electrical workers, insulators, ironworkers and masons.”
According to the federal government, slightly fewer than 1.4 million people were unemployed in the country last year.
The Jobs for Tomorrow—Canada’s Building Trades and Net Zero Emissions report finds that “new eco-friendly construction and retrofitting could create almost two million direct non-residential construction jobs.” Building out the electrical grid to tie together clean energy sources, including “hydroelectric, wind, solar, geothermal and tidal power generation, and legacy nuclear” would create more than 1.1 million additional construction jobs.” Tying half of the country’s cities into efficient district heating and power grids would employ another half-million construction workers, while expanding urban transit would occupy a quarter of a million more workers to mid-century.
The new findings provide Canadian context to the mounting evidence that clean energy is creating a global jobs boom. Internationally, “investments of 2% of Gross Domestic Product in the green economy in 12 countries could create up to 48 million new jobs” over the next half-decade, the Institute writes, citing the International Trade Union Confederation.
Clean energy already employs more Americans than fossil production in almost every U.S. state, and is creating more than twice as many new jobs across the country, an analysis by the Sierra Club determined. Worldwide, the International Renewable Energy Agency reported in May, renewable energy employed 9.8 million people last year—a number set to more than double to 24 million by 2030.