The shift to clean energy is producing huge economic gains, but Canada risks being left behind if the federal government doesn’t get on board, a new report warns.
That’s the message from energy and climate think tank Clean Energy Canada, which paints a picture of a world increasingly embracing – and investing in – green energy alternatives.
Clean energy is now “business as usual, it is not boutique any more,” said Merran Smith, director of Clean Energy Canada. “This is where the puck is going … The world has changed and there is no going back.”
The report, to be released Monday on the eve of the United Nation’s global climate summit in New York, says that thanks to government support and dramatic increases in private investment, “companies, countries and whole economies are steadily reducing their dependence on fossil fuels and embracing clean and renewable energy.”
It cites China, for example, where new renewable energy plant construction has now surpassed investments in coal generation. The country has embarked on an enormous effort to build solar and wind power generating facilities, along with a massive electrified high-speed rain network.
At the same time individual corporations – including some big players such as Google Inc., Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Apple Inc. and Ikea AB – have jumped on the bandwagon, investing in renewable energy projects in order to cut their own greenhouse gas emissions. Consequently, almost 6.5 million people now work in the renewable energy sector around the globe.
Over all, private investment in green energy is growing dramatically, the report says. In 2013, $207-billion (U.S.) was invested in clean energy deployment, not far below the $270-billion invested in fossil fuel power generation. While China, the United States and Japan lead the way, Canada ranks seventh among G20 countries with $6.5-billion in clean energy investment in 2013.
While carbon-based fuels will still be important for a long time, “for the first time in more than a century, multiple signs suggest that their dominance is beginning to wane,” the report said.
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