A Pivotal Moment

A net-zero 2050 can deliver 700,000 more Canadian energy jobs than exist today, but rolling back climate action would severely threaten this clean energy future

Key Takeaways

  • Canada will see 700,000 more energy jobs in 2050 than exist today if Canada (and the world) reaches net zero, with growth in clean energy jobs outpacing the decline in fossil fuels. Tweet this
  • While there will be a 1.5-million job decline in fossil fuels in a net-zero 2050, this is far exceeded by the 2.2-million job increase in clean energy as employment in the sector grows 7% a year out to 2050. Tweet this
  • Jobs in Alberta’s clean energy sector will grow 10% a year out to a net-zero 2050—the fastest of any province or territory—significantly more than the job decline expected in fossil fuels. Tweet this

Executive Summary

The U.S. recently made the single largest investment in climate and energy in American history in the form of the Inflation Reduction Act, only to be matched by the EU announcing its own multi-billion-euro Green Deal Industrial Plan. Meanwhile, China is dominating supply chains with 60% of the world’s clean energy technology manufacturing.

Put simply, the energy transition is an impending reality, with 92% of global GDP now covered by net-zero commitments. Accordingly, decisions made today will shape the success of Canada’s own energy sector in the years ahead.

But while emissions will plunge in a net-zero Canada, energy jobs certainly will not. Canadian jobs in clean energy are set to grow 7% a year, from 509,000 in 2025 to 2.7 million in a net-zero 2050. That’s according to new modelling by Clean Energy Canada and Navius Research, which investigated different Canadian energy scenarios out to 2050.

While there will be a 1.5-million job decline in fossil fuels in a net-zero scenario (the world will want a lot less oil and gas), this is far exceeded by the 2.2-million job increase in the clean energy sector.

Canada’s clean energy sector is made up of companies and workers that help reduce carbon pollution, whether by generating clean energy, helping move it, reducing energy consumption, or developing low-carbon technologies. It is a truly pan-Canadian sector, from the assembler producing electric vehicles in Windsor, to the construction worker building energy-efficient housing in Yellowknife, to the drill operator on a geothermal plant near Saskatoon.

The inflation-adjusted GDP of the clean energy sector would increase to become six times larger in a net-zero 2050 compared to 2025, while the GDP of fossil fuels would halve. The result is that Canada’s clean energy sector in 2050 would be worth 63% more than Canada’s fossil fuel sector in 2025, even after inflation.

It’s a prosperous picture, and yet it is not an inevitable one.

A number of key climate policies implemented in the last few years help drive clean energy job growth, namely Canada’s carbon price and the federal government’s 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan. In a scenario based on current climate policy (reaching net zero would require additional action), there would be 3.6 million energy jobs in 2050 in both clean energy and fossil fuels.

This is Canada’s current trajectory.

We also investigated what would happen if a future government chose to roll back Canada’s key climate measures. In this scenario, there would be 100,000 fewer total energy jobs by 2050.

The reality is that, no matter what policy choices Canada makes domestically, a decarbonizing world wants more clean energy and fewer fossil fuels. Indeed, jobs in the oil sands and oil production are set to decline by at least 93% between 2025 and 2050, regardless of what policies are in place. Already, the number of people working in clean energy jobs globally recently overtook fossil fuels for the first time. Denying the inevitable doesn’t prevent it, but it does risk Canadian energy jobs.

While the sun may be setting for some sectors, a new dawn of energy opportunity is shining brightly even on Canada’s fossil-fuel-producing regions. In our net-zero scenario, jobs in Alberta’s clean energy sector will grow 10% a year out to 2050—the fastest of any province or territory. Between 2025 and 2050, there would be 419,000 clean energy jobs added in the province, significantly more than the 324,000 job decline expected in fossil fuels.

Canada-wide, perhaps the biggest clean energy success story on the net-zero journey is the electric vehicle industry. There are set to be 1.3 million Canadians employed in EV-related jobs in 2050—60 times more than in 2025. Indeed, Canada is already a world leader in clean transportation, whether it’s startups like B.C.-based Loop Energy, which makes hydrogen fuel cells, or big global manufacturers like Ontario-based Magna International, which makes parts for new EVs.

Meanwhile, almost half a million people will be employed to supply clean energy in Canada in 2050. From the technician on an Indigenous-owned wind farm in Nova Scotia to the engineer at a clean hydrogen facility in Alberta, there will be almost 60% more workers supplying clean energy in 2050 than in 2025.

Put simply, the future is bright for a Canadian energy sector that plans for this new reality. Rejecting net zero, on the other hand, is betting against the world’s biggest economies and banking on climate failure. Canada has a simple choice to make: to sail with the wind or stubbornly against it.

Watch our webinar to dive deeper into our modelling for this report and hear from industry and labour leaders on the opportunities the energy transition will bring for Canadian energy jobs.