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Diversifying Canada’s Economy

For better and for worse, Canada's economic fate is now chained to tar sands oil exports. This is not good news for the long-term health of the Canadian economy. The $200-billion tar sands mega-project has diminished Canada’s economic diversity and resilience, and created a carbon bubble that will undermine Canada’s economic well-being when effective climate change policies make carbon-intensive energy sources like the tar sands uneconomic.

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Rapid tar sands development has transformed the Canadian currency into a volatile petro-dollar and destabilized the country's manufacturing base. A Canadian government report noted that the rising dollar, combined with volatile energy prices and cheap Chinese imports, has decimated Canada’s manufacturing sector, concluding that Canada was witnessing "a long-term structural change favoring both the resources and the services sectors at the expense of the manufacturing sector" in Ontario and Quebec.

More than 50 per cent of decreased employment in the manufacturing sector (a total of 322,000 jobs) was directly related to the tar sands petro-dollar, which means for every job created in the tar sands (approximately 100,000) another job was lost in the country's manufacturing sector. Canada’s economic obsession with tar sands expansion also has decreased Canada's share of technology-intensive industries, such as automobile production, aerospace, advanced economic software, and other high value-added industries.

There is another way. A report by Blue-Green Canada shows that investments in energy efficiency, renewable energy and public transit not only reduces pollution, but it creates six to eight times more jobs than comparable investments in fossil fuels. If Canada took the $1.3 billion of taxpayers’ money the federal government gives to the oil and gas industry each year in the form of subsidies, and instead invested that money in energy efficiency and alternative energy sources, it would spark the transition to a clean energy economy. Just look at the numbers: a $1.3 billion investment in clean energy would create 18,000 to 20,000 jobs, compared to the 2,340 to 2,860 that jobs can be generated with $1.3 billion invested in oil and gas production, refining or pipelines.

Rapid tar sands expansion is not in Canada’s best economic interests. A cap on tar sands production and a more diverse, balanced economy is what is needed to ensure Canada’s long-term economic health.

Diversifying Canada’s Economy Updates & Resources

This Aboriginal community is launching a solar project in the heart of Canada’s oil sands

Feature

Hilary Beaumont | Vice News - August 24th 2015

Press Clipping: The Lubicon Lake Band in Little Buffalo, Alberta, is surrounded by fossil fuel extraction, and the province is lighting up with increasingly intense forest fires. Now, a community leader is making a pointed statement: building a 20.8 kilowatt Piitapan Solar Project to show that they don't have to rely on electricity generated from fossil fuels.

Report Card: Canada’s Policy Support for Clean Technology Exports

Penelope Comette, Maximilian Kniewasser and Patricia Lightburn | Pembina Institute - July 30th 2015

Publication: Canadian cleantech exports currently represent over one per cent of this $1 trillion global industry, and the percentage of Canadian cleantech companies that are exporters is projected to grow from 68 per cent in 2013 to 85 per cent in 2015. The U.S. in particular represents a significant market for Canadian cleantech exports with 50 per cent of current export sales coming from U.S. markets. This report card is a scan of the policies and programs in place at both the federal and provincial level in Canada that support cleantech companies in their pursuit of export opportunities.

New map shows clean energy jobs across British Columbia

Feature

April 27th 2015

Blog Post: The Pembina Institute’s new interactive B.C. Clean Energy Jobs Map quantifies the number of jobs in the clean energy sector and pinpoints where renewable energy projects are located in the province. British Columbia has one of the most robust clean energy sectors in Canada, employing people in the province’s largest cities to its most remote communities, including many First Nations.

More employment in renewables industry than in the tar sands

March 10th 2015

Visual: It's true. Employment in the renewables industry far surpasses than in the tar sands, which is heavily impacted by falling oil prices. The instability of oil will have direct consequences for an estimated 23,000 jobs, proving yet again how economically unviable the tar sands industry is. On April 11, let's tell our politicians that renewables are the way to go, both for jobs and the planet!

Fossil fuel subsidies are starving innovation

Feature

Joel Solomon | Renewal Funds - January 8th 2015

Press Clipping: When the Rockefeller Brothers Fund recently announced it would remove fossil fuels from its $860-million (U.S.) investment portfolio, it wasn’t just a PR stunt; it was a smart long-term financial move. Big funds like Rockefeller Brothers see what others have been trying to ignore: that fossil fuels are in decline for a host of economic, political and social reasons, as alternatives reach price parity, regulations increase and public subsidies shift.

We can thrive without pipelines and oilsands

Guy Dauncey | Times Colonist - June 25th 2014

Press Clipping: So Canada's federal government has finally approved construction of the proposed Enbridge pipeline to carry bitumen from Alberta's oilsands to Kitimat, and thence by ocean to China. If we do not go ahead, the prime minister warns us, Canada's economy will be in grave danger. What if this wasn't true?

It’s time to think about renewables

Mike Hudema | Greenpeace Canada - June 24th 2014

Blog Post: As the smoke clears from this week’s Enbridge Northern Gateway decision, one thing is clear — this pipeline will never be built. Given opposition from the British Columbia government, a litany of First Nation lawsuits, a possible referendum and inevitable protests, Northern Gateway’s demise is already being written despite the federal green light.

Redford and other leaders encourage Americans to ‘Say No to Dirty Fuels and Yes to Clean Energy’

September 16th 2013

Visual: In a new video NRDC Trustee and committed activist Robert Redford outlines the hazards of this filthy fuel. Some of the nation’s leading cultural figures, including Redford, Van Jones, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Carole King and Jack Kornfield are joining forces to help move America beyond fossil fuels and climate chaos. Listen here to Robert Redford words.