Canada's clean energy sector is booming, with the number of people who work for green energy organizations outnumbering those whose work relates to tar sands, finds the first annual status report on the country's shift to renewable power.
The study, Tracking the Energy Revolution: Canada (pdf), reveals a 37 percent employment increase and a cumulative investment of $25 billion in the green energy sector over the past five years. In addition, the energy-generating capacity of Canada's wind, solar, run-of-river hydropower and biomass plants has expanded by 93 percent since 2009, and electric vehicle sales doubled between 2012 and 2013, the report says.
"The global clean energy revolution isn’t a future scenario," said Merran Smith, director of Clean Energy Canada, which put out the report. "It is underway right now, and it presents huge potential benefits for Canadians."
Tracking the Energy Revolution praises provincial leadership in Quebec and Ontario for pushing policies that promote wind and solar energy, but it criticizes other jurisdictions, such as Alberta and Saskatchewan, as well as "a seemingly indifferent federal government" for "not yet pursuing their opportunities with the necessary vigor to unlock our clean energy potential."
While Ottawa—the seat of Canada's federal government—has laid important groundwork to cut energy waste and support clean power, the report notes that only three of the country's most effective clean energy policies are actually in effect today. "Ottawa has laid a foundation for clean energy, but has done very little to build on it," reads the study.
Clean Energy Canada also calls for more domestic investment in the green sector, pointing out that "with one exception, foreign banks are funding Canada’s clean-energy revolution."
"The fact that foreign investors are coming to Canada to invest in our clean energy, tells us that we have a fantastic resource," Smith told the Globe and Mail. Then, referencing Canada's equivalent of Wall Street, she added: "We need Bay Street to wake up and recognize this is where the puck is going."
The report also recommends that provinces continue cutting their reliance on coal and implement a renewable portfolio standard to increase the share of renewables on the electric grid.
And on the federal level, Clean Energy Canada advocates creating tax breaks for renewable technologies akin to those from which the oil industry benefited; ramping up financial support for infrastructure such as new electrical transmission lines, smart grids, and electric vehicle charging stations; and putting a price on carbon pollution.