Some observers consider Canada a unique situation, because we happen to have an enormous geologic endowment of fossil fuel resources that today are critical to the global economy. However, other nations with significant carbon assets are making substantial investments to diversify their energy system and prepare for the low-carbon future.
Saudi Arabia, for example, will be investing up to $100 billion in renewables over the next two decades––with the goal of generating 53 gigawatts––one third of its electricity needs––with clean power by 2032. The kingdom primarily intends to use the energy to reduce dependence on oil- powered desalination plants. These investments are part of a larger strategy to place a greater focus on renewable energy generation, to promote job creation and technological innovation.
Norway offers another example. In 1990, following the discovery of extensive offshore petroleum reserves, Norway created The Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global to manage revenues from the resource. The Ministry of Finance regularly transfers petroleum revenue to the fund and determines its investment strategy. The fund presently has a market value of approximately $590 billion.
Further, China, the world’s largest coal consumer, is currently creating a series of Low Carbon Development Zones. The zones will be based on the nation’s past success with special economic zones––geographic regions with more liberal economic laws than the rest of the country. The model is credited with jump-starting China’s high-growth economy. The new zones are intended to act as testing grounds for the large scale economic transformation required for a low-carbon future. China’s transition is expected to be a net job creator. For example, a recent report concluded that 800,000 workers in small coal power plants in China will likely lose their jobs due to climate mitigation actions. However, some 2.5 million jobs could be created by 2020 in the wind energy sector alone.