More Bang for our Buck

This summer I had a thoroughly pleasant morning with an old friend at the Fredericton Saturday farmers’ market. Steve stopped to chat with friends wherever he turned, we bought provisions, and I bought a few gifts for my family. I was intrigued by the number of people wearing yellow t-shirts with the logo you see at the top of this story.

On the way out I stopped at the information booth selling the t-shirts and chatted with Mark D’Arcy, an active member of the Council of Canadians in Fredericton. While their local hot issue was to ban fracking in New Brunswick, Mark explained that the graphic highlights the difference between the effectiveness in job creation between money invested in oil compared to sustainable energy or energy efficiency. It shows that for a million dollar investment in the oil industry 2 jobs are created, while the same million dollars in renewable energy or energy efficiency creates 14 or 15 jobs.

This weekend, part way through reading Naomi Klein’s “This Changes Everything” I saw a reference to the study that provides the basis for the t-shirt, More Bang for our Buck. She applies this six to one ratio to the $1.3 billion annual subsidy for the oil and gas sector in Canada and shows that this alone if redirected appropriately would result in the creation of seventeen to twenty thousand jobs in renewable energy, public transport, or energy efficiency instead of the three thousand created in oil.

A new perspective clicked into place for me.

  • Ending the Canadian fossil fuel subsidy can be the first step in putting a price on carbon
  • We could use the freed up funds to encourage clean energy and efficiency
  • The result in the job market is 6 to 7 times as many jobs created for the same investment
  • An important side effect of creating these jobs is a reduction of GHG emissions

What’s different here is that we can focus on something positive – job creation. I’m not thinking that we need to take our eye off the ball – the goal still needs to be a price on carbon, but we can emphasize that, managed properly, a price on carbon can achieve its desired effect and at the same time result in an increase in jobs.

These words were printed on a poster under the graphic at the information booth in Fredericton. They apply equally anywhere in Canada as a whole.

“Efficiency, renewables, and green infrastructure will create more jobs and prosperity than our traditional fossil fuel economy. Local agriculture and local forestry will create more jobs than the large corporate model. And we can start tomorrow in New Brunswick and First Nation communities; the only thing stopping us is the political will to do so.”

We need to keep this positive perspective in mind whenever we are talking about solutions.

The  More Bang for our Buck study is on the Blue Green Canada web site.

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