Study finds potential for job growth as Canada moves to low-carbon economy

Meeting Canada’s climate goals could generate millions of jobs in the building trades by 2050, according to a new study.

Columbia Institute released a landmark study: Jobs for Tomorrow - Canada’s Building Trades and Net Zero Emissions. It was commissioned by Canada’s Building Trades Unions to explore the historic role of Canada’s construction industry andpotentialfor low-carbon economy job growth as the nation celebrates its 150th anniversary. 

“Canada’s building trades’ professionals have a proud history of building the infrastructure,businessesand homes in this country,” Bob Blakely, Canadian operating officer for Canada’s Building Trades Unions, said in a release. “And, as we mark this milestone anniversary, this study shows the important and continuing role for our members as we transition to a low-carbon economy.”

Jobs for Tomorrow is the first study to predict potential impacts on the construction industry if Canada implements policy and investments, both public and private, to meet Canada’s Paris Agreement goals.

“If Canada is serious about meeting our climate commitments, we need to move faster in areas like renewable energy, green building construction, building retrofits, and transportation infrastructure,” Columbia Institute’s Executive Director Charley Beresford said. “Meeting our climate goals is good for the planet and good for the economy and job creation.”

The numbers

Getting to net zero emissions by 2050 could generate millions of jobs – nearly 4 million direct building trades jobs, which in turn would generate 20 million indirect, induced and supply chain jobs.

Green Buildings and Net-Zero Retrofits: Based on current construction employment figures in the green building sector, with eco-friendly standards, the green building sector as we approacha 2050net zero scenario amounts to 1,997,640 direct non-residential building construction jobs.

District Energy Systems: Building small district energy systems in half of Canada’s municipalities with populations of more than 100,000 would create more than 547,000 construction jobs by 2050.

Renewable Energy: Moving to an electrical supply grid composed primarily of hydroelectric (40 percent) new wind, solar, geothermal and tidal power generation (43 percent combined) and legacy nuclear (5 percent), would result in over 1,177,055 direct construction jobs by 2050.

Transportation: Building out $150 billion of urban transit infrastructure, including rapid transit tracks and bridges, subway tunnels, and dedicated bus lanes,  between now and 2050 would create about 245,000 direct construction jobs.


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