A report commissioned by the governments of B.C., California, Oregon and Washington says more than one million new jobs can be created if all four jurisdictions continue to promote a clean economy.

The report was released Wednesday in Vancouver by B.C. premier Christy Clark,  Washington governor Christine Gregoire, and Oregon governor John Kitzhaber.

ImageIt concludes that by 2020, 1.03 million net jobs can be created by leveraging the potential of the West Coast "clean economy" through the power of regional collaboration. It says the new clean economy can contribute up to US$143 billion to the GDP and will increase investments of between $147 and $192 billion.

The clean economy in the Pacific region is being driven by a rapid expansion of companies involved in building retrofitting, recycling, electric and alternative fuel vehicles and redesigning the electrical grid for greater efficiency. It also involves educational institutions such as the University of British Columbia which is tying together teaching on sustainability with increased academic research and campus operations.

The report identifies five key clean economy market opportunity areas as having the highest potential in terms of job growth and industrial development.

i. Energy Efficiency & Green Building - In particular, related to whole building retrofitting, energy efficient equipment, and new, high-efficiency green building construction.

ii. Environmental Protection & Resource Management - In particular, greater recycling and reuse, more efficient infrastructure, and the enhancement of measures to promote the conservation of natural resources and the restoration of damaged ecosystems.

iii. Clean Transportation - In particular, electric and alternative fuel vehicles, enhanced public transit infrastructure, and lower-carbon intensive energy sources such as natural gas.

iv. Clean Energy Supply - In particular, distributed energy systems, smart grid
infrastructure and transmission, and enhanced integration of energy
from clean and renewable sources.

v. Knowledge and Support - In particular, educational institutions for workforce skills development and strengthening centers of excellence that build on the knowledge base of the clean economy.

Image

The report was compiled by researchers from GLOBE Advisors and the Washington, D.C. based Centre for Climate Strategies as a forward-looking assessment of what is and what could be as the west coast region moves towards a cleaner, lower-carbon economic future.  

The four jurisdictions formed a partnership in 2008 called the Pacific Coast Collaborative, a common front to set a cooperative direction on the west coast. Together, the jurisdictions comprise a mega-region of 52 million people and a GDP of more than US $2.5 trillion, the world's sixth largest economy.

The report highlights that the clean economy is the single most important global opportunity on the medium-term horizon. The west coast region already has an economy that competes with other economic powerhouses such as Europe and Asia. Seizing the opportunities of a clean economy will bring additional economic, social and environmental benefits and add to an already strong economy.

Specifically, three sectors have been identified as key areas for growth potential.

  1.  Energy efficiency and green building sector:  Already the fastest growing employment sector, this segment of the economy employs more than 80,000 people but is expected to grow tomore than 440,000 by 2020. Much of this employment will come from whole building retrofitting, energy efficient equipment and new, high-efficiency green building construction.

A good example of the work and employment being generated by this sector is Clean Energy Works Oregon (CEWO).  The non-profit project began in Portland but has now expanded to the rest of the state. It encourages energy-efficiency investments and retrofits for qualified property owners with financing up to $30,000. The program has resulted in 120 direct construction jobs and hundreds of others receiving paycheques. It's expected to reduce CO2 emissions by 200,000 metric tonnes by 2013.

  1. Environmental protection and resource management: The growing recognition of the importance of environment stewardship over the past decade has led to more stringent regulations and legislation in many North American jurisdictions. This in turn has driven the business of preserving clean water, clean air and unpolluted soil conditions. Organic and sustainable farming, sustainable forestry, waste management and treatment and professional environmental services already employs the highest number of clean economy workers in all four west coast jurisdictions. This sector is expected to expand with a concentration on greenhouse gas emission management, water management and waste diversion, among others.

An example of this is Washington's Puget Sound Initiative. The shoreline of Puget Sound is approximately 2,500 miles (4,000 km). It is home to 67 percent of the state's population but the water actually contain a soup of chemicals from runoff which originates from roads, lawns, roofs, farms, fields and other developments that ring the shoreline. In December, Governor Christine Gregoire and the legislature launched the Puget Sound Initiative to restore, protect and preserve Puget Sound by 2020. This includes improving water quality, reducing toxic threats and restoring and preserving habitats. So far, the project has cleaned 732 contaminated sites.

  1. Clean transportation: Every jurisdiction is committed to integrating regional land-use planning, housing and efficient transportation. The utilization of lower-carbon vehicles is a key component of these strategies. Natural gas powered transit buses and electric vehicles are increasingly being used by municipalities to help lower the carbon footprint.

An example of this is the new Canada Line in Vancouver. The CAD $2.05-billion rapid transit system opened in Vancouver in August 2009 as a lead up to the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. The trains are fully separated from traffic and have transit capacity equivalent to 10 road lanes. With a daily ridership in 2010 of 100,000, the Canada Line has already surpassed expectation and is contributing to the elimination of approximately 14,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually. Its success has set high expectations for the Evergreen Line in the neighbouring municipality of Coquitlam, for which construction began in January 2012. 

Image

The West Coast Clean Economy report was released on the eve of GLOBE 2012, the biennial international conference and trade fair on 'Business and the Environment'. GLOBE 2012 runs from March 14 to 16 and is expected to draw some 10,000 people from 50 countries. The event is managed by the GLOBE Group, parent company of GLOBE Advisors, and is one of the most important international environmental business gatherings in the world.

The complete report and supplemental information is available for download here.