Green economy could create thousands of new jobs in Alberta: report

Creating a more environmentally sustainable economy could create tens of thousands of jobs in Alberta, according a report released Wednesday by the Alberta Federation of Labour, Greenpeace and the Sierra Club of Canada.

"There are many people who argue you can't have a strong economy and a healthy environment - that somehow we have to make a choice between the two," said Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour.

'Green jobs include familiar jobs with a new twist ...'-Green Jobs report

"We're starting to realize that in the long run, a healthy environment is essential for a healthy economy and that the economy can be put to work to improve the health of the environment."

A move toward creating more environmentally sustainable energy sources could provide jobs for electricians, computer and electrical engineers, iron and steel workers, welders, construction workers and sheet metal workers, the report says.

"Green jobs include familiar jobs with a new twist, like construction workers retrofitting homes to make them more energy efficient," the report says.

It calls on the Alberta government to shift its focus from oil and gas extraction to initiatives to improve energy efficiency, the expansion of light rail and transit and the expansion of the province's renewable energy sector.

By retrofitting every home, the province could put 6,500 to 14,000 people back to work over the next two years, while reducing energy consumption and emissions, the report says, adding that this would cost less and have a greater long-term effect than the $2 billion the province spent over six years on the recently cancelled natural gas rebate program.

Transit, rail projects could employ thousands

Spending $10 billion to build better transit systems and construct a high-speed rail link between Calgary and Edmonton could create 19,000 to 28,000 jobs over seven years.

Establishing renewable energy tariffs, mandatory renewable energy targets for utilities and bans on new carbon-emitting projects would encourage development of more wind, solar and geothermal technology.

Other jobs could be created to provide water treatment for First Nations communities, reforestation, and cleaning up contaminated sites, the report adds.

The Alberta government needs to step in and make the policy changes for this shift to occur.

"This is a task that government will need to undertake. The private sector on its own hasn't been able to do this," the report says, adding the province has "tens of billions of dollars" available to move toward a greener economy

 CBC News, Wed Apr 22 2009

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