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Over 400,000 oil and gas jobs could be lost in green energy transition: report

Last Updated Apr 6, 2021 at 6:16 am PDT

A large oil refinery along the Athabasca River in Alberta's Oilsands. Fort McMurray, Alberta. (CREDIT: dan_prat, iStockPhoto)

CALGARY (660 NEWS) – Canada could lose up to 450,000 of its 600,000 oil and gas sector worker by the year 2050.

A new forecast by TD Economics shows Canada’s pursuit of its climate targets could cost three-quarters of Canadian oil and gas jobs within the next 30 years.

The projections believe this is a result of less demand for fossil fuels as more nations adopt net-zero greenhouse gas emission commitments.

Canada’s plan is to reduce emissions by up to 40 per cent by the year 2030, and go completely neutral by 2050.

According to Natural Resources Canada, roughly 600,000 Canadians, mostly in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland and Labrador, are either directly or indirectly employed in the oil and gas sector. The TD Economics report forecasts between 50 to 75 per cent of those workers are at risk of losing their jobs in the transition through 2050, equivalent to 312,000 to 450,000 workers.

According to the report, over 25 per cent of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions comes from the oil and gas sector and as the country tries to reach its commitments, energy workers, mainly in Alberta, will be displaced.

The report also explains not everyone who will face unemployment will be able to find a job in the clean energy sector. The report points to the 1990s and the transition from manual work to automation for the manufacturing sector, which resulted in many middle-income workers being displaced with little to no help in transitioning back into the economy.

“It is critical that we do not repeat the mistakes of the past and ensure a just transition for energy sector workers.” the report reads. “Relative to the U.S., Canada was spared some of the hollowing out of middle-income jobs and resulting inequality due to the presence of energy sector jobs. However, this is now about to change.”

The report outlines three major areas that can help with the transition to green energy.

These include a redesigned retraining program for these workers; focusing clean energy infrastructure on the same communities, and income supports to offset losses for employees.

The report acknowledges the clean-energy transition will create many new job opportunities, but there is no guarantee the benefits will be easily passed on to those displaced from the oil and gas sector.