"Climate leaders will be wearing hardhats"

Friday, December 29, 2017

Jobs for Tomorrow: Canada’s Building Trades and Net Zero Emissions, a report commissioned by the Canada’s Building Trades Unions and the BC Building Trades, was on the agenda of the September convention.

Lee Loftus, outgoing president of the BC Building Trades, told the BC Building Trades convention delegates, “Other people have the ideas but they can’t deliver it. We deliver it and make sure it works. We are the solution.”

The report, written in part by Tradetalk’s Richard Gilbert, points out that members of the building trades have a vital role to play in meeting Canada’s climate goals and building and maintaining new facilities for generating electricity using renewable sources. Workers in 60 trades will be called on to help reduce greenhouse gases and help solve the problems that have come from climate change.

Charley Beresford, executive director of the Columbia Institute which prepared the report, said, “We’re seeing the effects of climate change and extreme weather events.” Wildfires, for example, were still burning in the Interior. As a result, legislative changes, carbon taxes, and new CO2 targets are coming on stream,” she said.

“Climate leaders will be wearing hard hats,” she added. The 80-page report notes that “very little research has been done on the construction industry’s role in Canada’s transition to low-carbon development.”

Jobs for Tomorrow estimates that meeting Canada’s climate goals will result in over 3.9 million direct construction jobs by 2050. That number rises to 19.8 million jobs if “induced, indirect, and supply chain jobs” are included.

There are five transition areas: clean energy supply, smart communities, transportation, industrial retrofits, and direct capture.

The report states: “Managing the transition over the coming decades will avoid economic disruption and mitigate job losses… Economic reliance on fossil fuels…makes Canadian workers vulnerable to global commodity price shocks. The negative impact of distant decisions on Canadian workers was seen in the wave of layoffs following the OPEC-induced crash of oil prices in 2015, when more than 35,000 people in the oil industry lost their jobs.

“A clean energy economy, where industries are powered by renewables like wind, solar, hydro, geothermal, and tidal generation, is far less at risk.”

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