BC Green Economy Study (2010)


The British Colulmbia Green Economy project involved more than 12 months of investigation, research, analysis, and consultation conducted by the GLOBE Foundation during 2009-2010, including:

  • An analysis of more than 350 secondary sources on current low-carbon economies;
  • More than 70 one-on-one interviews with the CEOs and owners of leading green and clean energy companies, as well as with the directors of major industry associations, government representatives, and presidents, deans, and instructors from many of BC’s post-secondary and trades training institutions;
  • An in-depth online survey that reached out to 104 green businesses to identify some of the challenges they are experiencing at present in securing qualified workers; and
  • A series of 9 regional focus groups held throughout the province where groups of community and business leaders were gathered together, alongside academic experts, First Nations representatives, and municipal officials, to discuss regional opportunities and challenges affecting the transition to a greener economy in BC.

Acknowledging that “green” elements are present in all areas of the economy, the analysis provides a foundation and a framework upon which to measure the economic and employment impacts of such activities in all regions of the province, and forecast potential GDP and employment impacts that could be reasonably expected by 2020.

The GLOBE Foundation is grateful to all who assisted in the efforts and, in particular, to the Canada-BC Labour Market Agreement, an agreement between the Province of BC and the Government of Canada, that helped make this analysis possible.

Key Findings

BC GE Report

The Green Economy – With a global market value of nearly US $5.2 trillion, the world’s green economy is growing faster than the economy as a whole.

Gross Domestic Product – The six key sectors of BC’s green economy contributed roughly $15.3 billion to provincial gross domestic product (GDP) in 2008, and 10.2 percent of the province’s total GDP for that year.

Employment – BC’s green economy was responsible for nearly 166,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs in 2008 (117,000 direct and 49,000 indirect), equivalent to 7.2 percent of total provincial employment.

Growth Potential – GDP from BC’s green sectors could grow from $15.3 billion in 2008 to between $20.1 billion and $27.4 billion in 2020, representing between 10.8 percent and 14.1 percent of total provincial GDP. In terms of green jobs in BC, a labour shortage poses the greatest threat to potential growth.

Regional Contributions – The main beneficiaries of the green economy are the Mainland/Southwest, Vancouver Island/Coast, and Thompson-Okanagan regions, which together account for nearly 90 percent of the province’s green GDP. However, large growth potential exists in other regions.

Green Resource Opportunities – BC’s natural resources will continue to form the province’s competitive advantage in the green economy. Low-carbon natural resources such as hydro, wind, and wave energy, biomass, as well as vast reserves of natural gas, will be the fuel that drives BC’s low-carbon energy future.

Green Economic Sectors – While BC has strengths in many areas of the green economy, clean and alternative energy, energy management and efficiency, green building, and environmental protection show the greatest potential for GDP growth and job generation.

Education & Training – Demand is growing for more training and skill development programs and expanded educational curriculum for engineers, technicians, consultants, and other environment-related professionals. An analysis of the opportunities for re-allocating postsecondary funding toward greener program and curriculum development is warranted.

Skill Shortages – BC is suffering from a shortage of experienced engineers, skilled technologists, and workers certified to install and service complex renewable energy (solar, wind, geothermal, etc.) and water quality management systems. Efforts are needed to increase education and training opportunities in these areas in order to capture the full economic benefits of greening BC’s economy.

First Nations – BC’s First Nations are keen to be active participants in a greener economy. However, a need exists to expand skilled trades and apprenticeship training for rural and Aboriginal populations and to bring learning resources and employment opportunities closer to their communities.

Policy Framework – Achieving the widespread adoption of a green economy involves a re-orientation of our economy and a re-focusing on sustainable development. The policy framework needed to guide this transition must be government-wide in terms of its scope and delivery and must engage all population segments in all regions of the province.


British Columbia is more fortunate than many other jurisdictions because of its abundant wealth in natural resources and well-established low-carbon assets.

The transition to a green economy in BC must incorporate and build on the strengths of the province’s existing economy, particularly its vast green, natural resources. At the same time, the transformation of economic sectors towards business practices, tools and markets where low-carbon activity, energy efficiency, and conservation are the guiding principles, must be promoted.

Continued efforts are required to attract the innovators and entrepreneurs, to train the skilled workers, and to source the capital needed to build a sustainable green economy that will lead to economic prosperity in the province for both present and future generations.

It is important that efforts are taken to consider the environmental impacts of the transition to a green economy, and ensure that the methods used minimize the negative effects while encouraging regional stability and durability.

The transition to a lower-carbon future is not something that BC residents can either choose to do or not to do — as a society, there is no other option. The good news is that BC has all that is needed to make the transition without undue hardship and dislocation, given the right policy framework and clarity of vision. And the sooner BC embraces this shift in full, the stronger its
position will be in the global greener economy.

 Downloads & Supporting Documents (Some available on request)

  • British Columbia’s Green Economy: Securing the Workforce of Tomorrow (Sept. 2010)
  • Careers for a Sustainable Future: A Reference Guide to Green Jobs in BC (Sept. 2010)
  • Skilled, Qualified & Sustainable: A Reference Guide to Green Education & Training in BC (Sept. 2010)
  • Regional Green Focus Group Summary Report (June 2010)
  • Green Employer Survey Summary Report (Mar. 2010)
  • British Columbia’s Green Economy: Building a Strong Low-Carbon Future (Feb. 2010)
  • BC Green Jobs: a 2-page handout for high school students (Oct. 2010)
  • BC Green Economy Project Methodology (Sept. 2010)
  • BC Green Programs: a list of BC public post-secondary programs relevant to the green economy (Aug. 2010)