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Renewable Energy for Economic Recovery

Clean energy farm at sunset
Clean energy farm at sunset
Laureen Whyte, Clean Energy BC

Laureen Whyte

Executive Director, Clean Energy BC

Renewable energy is well-positioned to contribute to economic recovery through investment and job creation that advance Indigenous rights and achieves climate commitments.

An essential service

As the pandemic’s economic impact continues to be felt, there is hope looking forward that Canada’s economic recovery will create a more sustainable and equitable future. With 100 regionally-diverse independent power producers currently operating in British Columbia, the industry already provides many opportunities in employment depressed areas. These BC projects range from wind to solar to run-of-river hydro, and there are ambitions to soon welcome marine and geothermal into the energy mix. Renewable energy is an essential service providing stable jobs while also offering innovative climate solutions.

Advancing Indigenous rights

Numerous BC First Nations have consistently articulated a desire to participate in BC’s electricity system as developers of renewable energy generation assets. This is largely because the sector aligns with many nations’ deeply-held values related to environmental stewardship and self-reliance, and also fosters self-sufficiency and economic reconciliation.

The Province of BC adopted into law the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2019. Guided by this legislation, the provincial government now must evaluate any policy that impacts or restricts Indigenous Nations’ opportunities to pursue self-determination. On Dec. 3rd, 2020, the Government of Canada introduced Bill C-15, to implement similar legislation so the rights of Indigenous Peoples will increasingly be recognized and honoured across the country.

Net-zero by 2050

The Government of Canada recently made commitments to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. While how we achieve this goal is still to be determined, one thing is clear: electrification is a clear pathway to decarbonization. We need to utilize our low-carbon electricity across Canada to accelerate the energy transition and shift away from fossil fuels.

In industries that face challenges to decarbonize, there are many cleantech innovations to reduce emissions like incorporating hydrogen and carbon capture, utilization, and storage. To achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, collaboration for deep decarbonization will be vital in creating a paradigm shift to electrify transportation, built environments, and industrial processes.

Power of private investments

The Honourable Seamus O’Regan, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, presented at the International Energy Agency’s global conference in June 2020 and touched on a significant aspect of economic recovery. O’Regan stated that, “Public funds alone cannot meet the level of investment required for a rapid and sustainable recovery [and] attracting private sector investment is essential.”

A just future

To help Canada bounce back, the renewable energy sector is here to invest and attract financial capital, enable electrification, push innovation, and deploy low-cost renewables across the country. Renewable energy is an exciting and ever-changing industry that can help us achieve our recovery goals. Many young people, immigrants, and women impacted by the COVID-19 layoffs are still searching for a career that aligns with their values. The renewable energy sector can provide these opportunities — let us tap into Canada’s human potential.

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