2.3 Benefits of a New Energy Economy

Although profound change is daunting, canadians have made such dramatic adjustments before and the potential rewards are great. The transition to a new-energy future promises benefits for a generous cross-section of Canadian society. researchers, engineers, and financial sector professionals will follow the flow of new-energy investment, building up Canada’s own brain trust while attracting the best and brightest from beyond our borders. The transition also presents new possibilities for partnerships with First Nations, Inuit, Métis, and other aboriginal groups. Meanwhile, the transition will enable the training, retraining, and advancement of many thousands of Canada’s trades workers.

Our success will leverage Canada’s innovative spirit, collaborative values, and our global diversity in culture and experience. It
will also build upon our northern climate—our agricultural exports may become critical to help feed a warming world—and our vast reserves of renewable biomass. We expect myriad other benefits will flow from this transition, including:

Socio-Economic Benefits

The drive to redesign, retrofit, and rebuild Canada’s cities and towns will create new jobs in design and planning, construction trades, building-material manufacturing and reclamation. The shift to decentralized and community-based energy systems will also generate local employment to manage and maintain those systems. Local stewardship of integrated energy systems will enhance a sense of overall community in how Canadians work, play, learn, and care for our children and elders. We will eliminate energy poverty, particularly in aboriginal communities, many of which presently rely on polluting and expensive diesel generators. No longer will a million Canadians have to choose each month whether to pay for their rent or their utilities. Through a national energy strategy, Canada will identify its competencies and niche strengths in energy-services innovation. We will become global traders of energy solutions, rather than raw materials.

Ecosystem Benefits

We can live within our means while safeguarding our air, lands, and oceans, and the services they provide. By embracing a new-energy future, we will eliminate our contribution to the buildup of heavy metals, fossil fuels, and toxics in our ecosystems, while dramatically reducing and eventually eliminating our contributions to climate change. In this new energy vision, we do not need to seek a “balance” between the environment and the economy; we strengthen both at the same time.

Personal Benefits

We will retrofit and densify our communities to lessen our dependence on motor vehicles and encourage walkability and other active- transportation modes, triggering multiple physical health and personal wellness benefits. A considerable body of research details the present public health costs of airborne particulates and smog on our communities.

In a new energy vision of steadily decreasing fossil fuel combustion, the incidence of such respiratory-related illnesses—the result of gasoline- and diesel-based transportation— will be dramatically reduced. This will offer myriad health benefits to Canadians and a corresponding reduced burden on public health care. Canadians would see a dramatically improved quality of life, and have more money to spend on things other than energy.

Reputation Benefits

Good things come to those who lead. As our investments begin to pay dividends—as we offer the global community Canadian-made and designed new energy innovations—this country will strengthen its reputation on the world stage as a leader and innovator. As international standing and respect flourish, multiple benefits and opportunities will flow our way, including further investments and potential new-energy trade alliances.