B.C. Can Cut Emissions While Growing Economy: Report

Arial Photo of Vancouver

By Maura Forrest

November 5, 2015

B.C.’s economy will grow and create thousands of new jobs if the province meets its climate targets over the next 35 years.

That is the finding of a new report commissioned by Clean Energy Canada, a low-carbon research centre at Vancouver’s Simon Fraser University.

The study modelled B.C.’s economic future, assuming the province were to take steps to meet its 2008 targets of a 33 per cent emissions reduction from 2007 levels by 2020 and an 80 per cent reduction by 2050.

The report estimates that by 2050, B.C. will have created 900,000 new jobs while dramatically reducing its carbon emissions. The economy will continue to grow at roughly two per cent per year, similar to the rate expected without special measures to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.

Of those nearly one million new jobs, 59,000 would be created in renewable electricity generation, biofuels and manufacturing. Another 62,000 jobs would be created in the traditional resource sector: mining, forestry and agri-foods.

The study finds the rate of job growth would be only slightly higher if greenhouse-gas reduction measures were not in place.

Household energy expenditures are predicted to drop as well, if emissions targets are met. The report estimates that a Vancouver family will spend $900 less on energy in 2030 than it does today, and a household in the Peace River region could spend $1,200 less by 2030.

B.C. households are expected to spend less on energy even without emissions reduction measures in place, but the savings would likely be less. However, meeting emissions targets would require an upfront cost of $4,000 per household, on average, to be spent on more efficient homes and electric vehicles.

Currently, the province is not on track to meet its 2020 target, and the report concludes that it’s “very unlikely” that that target will be achieved. But the authors recommended a number of measures that would get the province on track to meet the 2050 target of an 80 per cent emissions reduction from 2007 levels.

Those measures include increasing B.C.’s carbon tax to $80 per tonne by 2025, making new buildings and homes net-zero energy ready by 2025, strengthening fuel efficiency standards for vehicles and strengthening emissions regulations for the natural gas industry.