Phase out fossil fuels

and plug in to a healthy green economy

by Bruce Mason

• Emerging from all the interruptions and arguments in the federal election debates is the environment – finally included in our national leaders’ discussions and speeches about the economy. Justin Trudeau’s federal government won’t impose a carbon-pricing policy on provinces. Tom Mulcair plans a national cap-and-trade strategy. Stephen Harper claims greenhouse gas emissions are down while the economy grew. And Elizabeth May is forced to tweet fact-based ideas and innovative strategy.

green-electricity-15715669Finally. We agree that climate change is real. It’s here – caused by carbon emissions from the fossil fuels our ‘leaders’ want to expand – and it threatens life on the planet.

Canadians are justifiably worried. There are reports that one-third of us now live pay cheque to pay cheque and one-fifth of us hold down two jobs to make ends meet. We’re also confused about the issue that most Canadians consider most critical: jobs and the economy. And we’re misinformed about the importance of fossil fuels in our future. Clean technology – the fastest-growing sector in Canada – remains a very minor talking point, with few details about forging a new, renewable path for the country.

Eco-futurist and author Guy Dauncey is the first to have actually crunched some important numbers and asked questions. The first concerns the veracity of what we are told by Conservatives and several provincial governments: if we don’t build more pipelines and export more coal, oil and gas, Canada’s economy will be endangered.

Not true, according to Dauncey’s new 48-page report, “Almost Twice as Many Green Jobs if Canada Phases out Fossil Fuels.” In fact – backed by 100 referenced sources – it is quite the contrary: “If Canada was to undertake a planned 25-year transition to renewable energy, it would generate almost twice as many new green jobs as the number of fossil fuel jobs that would disappear. By the end of the transition, there would be as many new, permanent green jobs as there are jobs in fossil fuels today.”

He reports that Denmark – the world’s happiest country – hopes to achieve 100% renewable energy by 2050. Hawaii may get there a decade earlier. In the G-7, Britain, Germany, France, Italy and the US are signing on to a call for decarbonization by the end of the century. Only Canada and Japan have said “No!”

Dauncey also clarifies some made-in-Canada misconceptions: only 4% of Canada’s workers depend on fossil fuels for their income while 96% of Canadians work in other job sectors. And our economy comprises 19 million jobs yet fossil fuels only support 550,000 direct and indirect jobs and 245,000 induced jobs for an approximate total of 850,000.

So where will new green jobs originate? Most will be generated in four sectors: electricity, buildings, transportation and farming.

Expansion of wind, solar, geothermal and other forms of renewable energy to generate electricity will support 127,000 direct and indirect jobs and 90,000 induced jobs. Retrofitting buildings and phasing out oil and gas in favour of heat pumps, etc., will support 93,000 direct and indirect jobs and 31,000 induced jobs. Based on Europe’s experience, a cross-Canada network of safe, separated bike lanes will create 5,000 new jobs annually – largely in cycle tourism – growing to 125,000 jobs by the end of the transition. Expanding transit and LRT would generate 37,000 jobs a year from the capital expenditure and 18,500 job operations and maintenance jobs at the start, rising to 462,500 jobs. Electrifying railways would add 14,000 direct and indirect jobs a year, plus 6,000 induced jobs. Switching to organic farming – which supports 32% more workers – away from conventional dependence on fertilizer grows 4,000 new permanent jobs a year, rising to 100,000 jobs by the end of the 25-year transition. His total of 876,000 new permanent green jobs compares very favourably to lost employment in fossil fuels.

Dauncey notes that building retrofit and renewable energy installation jobs would eventually cease, but cycling, farming and transit operating work would continue. The cycle and ripple effects of infrastructure renewal would begin for solar, wind and geothermal, railway installations and other initiatives.

In an interview with Common Ground, Dauncey pointed to the stumbling blocks: current Conservative policy and the need to reform our first-past-the-post electoral process. “Elections are much more than just contests,” he said. “The climate crisis is imperative and loyalty to the planet is more important than loyalty to a party.”

Read and download the full report at guydauncey.wordpress.com and browse Guy Dauncey for more information and ongoing projects.

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