If you read the Globe and Mail yesterday morning, you may have come across an article that argues that green jobs are shrewd PR, but poor economics.
There are a number of issues with this analysis, perhaps the most serious of which is that it is predicated on the belief that the economy and environment are separate domains, rather than interdependent and inextricably linked systems. And while I am tempted to discuss what I perceive to be the article’s shortcomings, the more important point is that we don’t really need to ask whether environmental policies should attempt to meet economic objectives, such as create jobs. The simple fact is that they do.
Ontario’s renewable energy policy is one example of such a policy. Thanks to the Green Energy Act’s Feed-in Tariff and domestic content requirements, some 40 manufacturing firms
have announced their intention to open facilities here in Ontario. Many of them are already in production.
Thousands of new jobs have been created at green energy manufacturing facilities and these facilities simply weren’t here just a year ago. And thousands more are finding employment building wind farms and installing solar panels. In fact, Ontario’s renewable energy policy has been so successful at creating jobs that in some areas, such as solar installation, companies are worried about a shortage of skilled labour
. And the jobs boom is not limited to these new plants and projects. Traditional industries are getting a boost, too. USW members in Sault Ste. Marie,
for example, are rolling Ontario steel for use in wind turbine towers.
Moreover, not only has this environmental policy successfully created jobs. It has created good jobs - jobs that workers speak proudly of.
Over the past few months, we’ve been visiting these new manufacturing facilities and meeting with workers there. Some of these workers are parents or grandparents; others are just starting out in their careers. All of them are excited about their new jobs, and proud that they are part of the solution to environmental issues.
told us his 17 year old boy thinks his dad “finally sees the light” because he’s going into something that will make for a better future. Another
told us she “loves her job, loves getting up everyday and coming to work knowing [she’s] making a difference…” Still another
told us how after losing his job in the pharmaceutical industry, he was excited about his new career because “solar energy is the way of the future.”
If Mr. Gordon wants to know if we’re “overselling” the idea of green jobs, or if green job creation is sound economics, I suggest he ask some people who have these jobs, such as Wayne
, or Denise
I can’t say for sure, but I suspect they would tell him that these policies can and do create jobs, and the economics are pretty decent