As reported recently in the media, John Podesta from the Center for American Progress in Washington DC visited the MaRS Centre in Toronto and presented a compelling case for continued public policy support for and political commitment to green energy in Ontario.
In his presentation, Podesta praised the Green Energy and Green Economy Act (GEGEA) and its pivotal Feed-in Tariff (FIT) program as being the key drivers responsible for $21 billion in investment in Ontario and the creation of about 20,000 jobs since 2009. He credited the program for creating the kind of stable investment climate that manufacturers, financial institutions and entrepreneurs must have to hasten the transition to a low-carbon economy.
Podesta also referred to a recent Brookings Institute report in his presentation. The report indicated that the growing “clean economy” in the US is manufacturing- and export-intensive, with over 25 per cent of its 2.7 million workers in “green” jobs originating in the manufacturing sector. Median “green collar” wages in the US are 13 per cent higher than median wages in general. Between 2003 and 2010, the US clean economy outperformed the overall economy by a factor of two. He added Ontario is now a North American leader in the creation of these higher paying, export-oriented “green” industries.
Podesta provided the cautionary tale of China’s efforts to corner the renewables market, both in terms of technology development and dominating the export market. Recent media reports make it clear that China, as part of its push to become a world leader in green technology, is intent on putting a price on carbon as a component of its transition to a greener economy. I’ve made my position clear on the need for pricing carbon in Ontario in a previous blog. What’s really interesting about China is that it is being supported, in part, by the US Energy Foundation. As Podesta noted, China’s centrally controlled economy and its ability to regulate “at will” means they will increasingly challenge for world market dominance.
So, it’s concerning when a report just released by the Deutsche Bank in July singled out Ontario as a jurisdiction of concern where the outlook for green energy has “deteriorated” in part due to uncertainty over the future of the FIT program. Ontario has to decide where it wants to be in the international green economy in coming years.