Amid efforts to meet global emissions targets, economies around the world, particularly Canada, are undergoing changes to increase jobs in the environmental sector.
The need to fill jobs within clean energy has become even more important to meet the targets set by the 2015 Paris Agreement.
A report by the United Nations released this week said that the supply of electricity from clean energy sources must be doubled in the next eight years if the world aims to stay under the goal of 1.5 ° C of warming temperatures.
ECO Canada’s director of research, Geni Peters, says this green shift is exactly what’s going on whether companies are focusing on clean energy or not.
“I think one thing that has emerged is that the economy as a whole is growing slowly. “So, no matter what sector the worker is employed in, they will find that they will increase their requirements to become familiar with environmental regulations and policies,” said Peters in a telephone interview with CTVNews.ca. Wednesday.
Peters said a new job coming out of efforts to boost the green economy is energy consultants, which include consulting with large technology, construction or engineering companies on how to manage energy use.
“We have a very high demand for energy consultants across Canada to help us understand the level of energy efficiency of our current building stock so we can improve that, reduce our energy use in the building sector and improve our carbon footprint,” he said.
According to ECO Canada, 1 in 26 Canadian jobs are green and the workforce in the environmental sector will increase by 5 per cent by 2020. By 2025, job growth and retirements will account for an estimated 173,000 environmental job openings.
The 2021 Clean Energy Canada report estimates that by 2030, there will be 639,200 jobs within the clean energy sector, an increase of almost 50 percent compared to 2020 when 430,500 jobs were reported.
Among the fastest growing industries within clean energy, electric vehicle technology is expected to grow by 39 percent annually. Sarah Miller, research associate at the Canadian Climate Institute, said jobs in the technology and energy sectors are among the sectors most likely to see economic opportunity from the transition to clean energy.
“Sectors with significant economic opportunities include, low carbon electricity, building technology, batteries, storage, biofuels; all of these types of sectors can benefit from zero change,” Miller said in a phone interview Wednesday.
Many jobs have been hit hard by the full impacts of climate change such as extreme weather events and rising temperatures. However, Miller says there is still hope in sectors such as construction and agriculture that could see some benefits.
“We see construction benefiting from increased climate impacts due to the need to repair and replace damaged infrastructure prematurely,” said Sara Miller, research associate at the Canadian Climate Institute.
CLOSING THE WORLD OF EDUCATION
While environmental jobs will see increased demand in the future, educational opportunities may not meet the needs of workers who don’t have the right skills to enter the roles, Miller said.
“We still need to see more investment and more policy details around workforce change and workforce readiness,” he said.
The federal government has previously funded and created programs to create more jobs for environmental workers. Just this week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a $222 million investment in a Quebec mineral company to increase production in lithium, titanium, and scandium; minerals found in electric vehicles and batteries.
However, Peters said there needs to be more investment in education programs to prepare Canadians who may be ready to work in the environmental sector but don’t have all the skills they need.
Among the barriers, some workers need transition help if they change jobs and need help transferring their skills. Others with knowledge of environmental science or policy, for example, may not have the management skills to lead large teams.
Peters says that by providing these workers with the right training through affordable co-op programs, it can help in the long run to smooth Canada’s green transition.
“It’s not a short-term solution but it’s something the government knows that building these roads and providing a smooth transition from non-environmental roles to environmental roles will be very important to meet our goals,” said Peters.