A new report projects that clean energy job gains would grow faster than fossil fuel-related losses if Canada were to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 – and oil-producing provinces would see the biggest boosts.

Clean Energy Canada, a think tank based at Simon Fraser University, published its report on energy jobs Wednesday.

It commissioned modelling from Navius Research on one scenario in which Canada reached net-zero emissions in 2050, a second scenario based on current federal policies and a third scenario in which the federal government’s climate plan was not implemented, and clean fuel and carbon pricing rules were cancelled.

In the net-zero scenario, the report found that clean energy jobs would grow seven per cent annually to employ 2.68 million people in a net-zero 2050, up from 509,000 in 2025.

The increase of about 2.2 million jobs would offset the projected 1.5 million decline in jobs in fossil fuels, the report said.

“While emissions will plunge in a net-zero Canada, energy jobs certainly will not,” the report said.

If a future government were to roll back climate measures like carbon pricing, the report said there would be 1.58 million clean energy jobs in Canada by 2050, and 100,000 fewer jobs across the combined fossil fuels and clean energy sectors. 

In the scenario under current policies, which would require more policy action to reach net zero, the report said clean energy jobs would grow to 2.44 million in 2050 from 484,000 in 2025.

Alberta was poised to see the fastest clean energy job growth under the net-zero scenario. Employment in the sector was projected to grow 10 per cent annually to 2050, the report said, adding 419,000 clean energy jobs to offset the projected 324,000 job decline in fossil fuels.

Many of the new Alberta jobs would be in clean transportation like the electric vehicle industry, and the renewable energy and carbon capture and storage industries are also set up for major booms.

“In fact, there will be more jobs in (Alberta’s) clean energy sector in 2050 than in fossil fuels in 2025,” the report said.

Clean energy jobs in Saskatchewan, another oil-producing Prairie province, were projected to grow nine per cent annually between 2025 and 2050. Jobs in biofuels led the projected growth, as did employment numbers in carbon capture and storage.

All provinces were projected to see annual clean energy job growth up to 2050 under the report’s net-zero scenario.

Clean transportation made up the biggest portion of the projected clean energy job growth, with 1.63 million people employed in roles like electric vehicle assembly and driving EV delivery trucks.

Clean energy was the second-biggest projected job generator, with 478,700 jobs expected by 2050 in wind farms, clean hydrogen facilities and other areas.

Jobs in clean buildings, including roles in heating, ventilation, and installing heat pumps were expected to grow to 391,000 by 2050, and clean industry jobs were also projected to grow.

The governments of Alberta and Saskatchewan responded to the report with skepticism and stressed the importance of oil and gas to their economies.

Saskatchewan’s government told BNNBloomberg.ca in a Wednesday statement that while it had not analyzed the report in detail, it had been briefed on “uneven impacts” of the energy transition across sectors, regions and occupations.

“The province will continue to stand up for its people and job-creators against policies that risk undermining Saskatchewan’s economy,” the province said in a statement.

Alberta, where the premier has been critical of federal energy transition plans, told BNNBloomberg.ca that the government considered the report “flawed” in how it looked at job creation and comparative wages, as it counted truck drivers as energy workers, and some of the new jobs might pay less than fossil fuels jobs currently do.

“Canadians need to have an educated conversation about the actual costs and benefits of the various pathways to net-zero, and this report does not serve that goal,” the office of the minister of jobs, economy, and northern development said.

The report also discussed how oil sands and oil production jobs are set to drop in Canada regardless of what domestic policies are in place, referencing a projected 93 per cent decline between 2025 and 2050.

“The reality is that, no matter what policy choices Canada makes domestically, a decarbonizing world wants more clean energy and fewer fossil fuels,” the report said.