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Environmental and clean technology products sector grew at twice the pace as the total economy in 2019

Released: 2020-12-18

The gross domestic product (GDP) generated by the environmental and clean technology products sector grew 3.5% from 2018 to 2019—twice the pace in real (volume) terms compared with the total Canadian economy (+1.6%).

In nominal terms, the value of the environmental and clean technology products sector in Canada reached $70.5 billion in 2019, accounting for 3.0% of Canadian GDP.

The share of environmental and clean technology products out of total GDP has remained relatively stable since the start of the time series in 2007. The share of the three top main contributors to the sector—the provinces of Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia—has also remained stable. In 2019, Ontario (36.1%) accounted for over one-third of the total value of environmental and clean technology products, while Quebec (28.6%) accounted for over one-quarter and British Columbia (14.4%) for one-seventh.

In 2019, just over half (53.7%) of the national GDP from environmental and clean technology products was attributable to the value of environmental goods and services. The remaining 46.3% of national GDP from the environmental and clean technology products sector was attributable to the production of clean technology goods and services.

The Environmental and Clean Technology Products Economic Account measures the contribution to the Canadian economy of goods and services that reduce environmental impacts. Two broad categories of goods and services are recognized: environmental goods and services (including clean electricity from renewable sources and nuclear power generation, biofuels and primary goods, and waste management and remediation services), and clean technology goods and services (including manufactured goods, scientific and research and development services, construction services, and support services). Examples of clean technology goods and services include solar panels and the design and construction of energy-efficient buildings.

Gains in the gross domestic product of the environmental and clean technology products sector driven by clean technology services

Overall, national GDP growth in the environmental and clean technology sector was driven by the clean technology services category. In particular, the growth reflected gains in the scientific and research and development services industry (+9.9%) as well as the construction services industries (+5.7%). The generation of clean electricity also contributed to the national increase, with its GDP growth of 3.3% over the period.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Composition of national gross domestic product from environmental and clean technology products
Composition of national gross domestic product from environmental and clean technology products

Most environmental and clean technology product exports and imports are manufactured goods

Volumes of environmental and clean technology product exports decreased 1.3% from 2018 to 2019. In nominal terms, the value of these exports totaled $13.5 billion in 2019, amounting to 2.0% of total Canadian exports. By way of comparison, natural gas products exports accounted for 1.6% of total exports that same year.

In 2019, more than three-quarters (78.8%) of all environmental and clean technology product exports were clean technology products (mostly manufactured goods). Clean electricity exports accounted for 15.1% of environmental and clean technology products exported.

National import volumes of environmental and clean technology products edged down 0.7% in 2019, after increasing 16.0% in 2018. The total value of Canadian environmental and clean technology product imports (in nominal terms) accounted for 2.9% or $19.9 billion of total Canadian imports in 2019.

Clean technology products (mostly complex manufactured goods) accounted for over four-fifths of that total at $16.2 billion.

Employment and salaries increase

An estimated 341,000 jobs were attributable to total environmental and clean technology activity in 2019, up 4.6% from a year earlier and accounting for 1.8% of all jobs in Canada.

The utilities sector was the largest industry group, accounting for over one-fifth (22.0%) or 74,800 environmental and clean technology jobs in 2019. These jobs were predominately found in electric power generation, transmission and distribution.

This was followed closely by the engineering construction industry at 64,400 jobs, or 18.9% of environmental and clean technology jobs. Three-fifths (60.2%) of these jobs were in electric power engineering.

Professional, scientific and technical services industry employed 52,100 (15.3%) and the administrative and support, waste management and remediation service sector employed 49,400 (14.5%), most of which were concentrated in waste management and remediation services. The manufacturing sector employed 40,300 (11.8%).

Ontario (39.3%), Quebec (24.5%) and British Columbia (12.0%) continued to employ the majority of environmental and clean technology sector workers in 2019.

The national average annual compensation per environmental and clean technology job, including benefits, rose 1.9% from a year earlier to $89,100 in 2019 compared with an economy-wide average of $63,200 (up 2.3% from 2018).

Chart 2  Chart 2: Percentage of jobs attributed to environmental and clean technology products sector by province and territory, 2019
Percentage of jobs attributed to environmental and clean technology products sector by province and territory, 2019

  Note to readers

The Environmental and Clean Technology Products Economic Account (ECTPEA) measures the economic contribution of environmental and clean technology products in terms of output, gross domestic product (GDP), employment (number of jobs) and other economic variables. Estimates are directly comparable with national results for the Canadian economy. Estimates of GDP referred to in this release are measured at basic prices.

Estimates for 2018 and 2019 are preliminary and will be revised when updated data become available, including the supply and use tables for those reference years. Constant dollars figures were revised for the years 2013 to 2016 as per the adjustment of the methodology.

Environmental and clean technology is defined as any process, product or service that reduces environmental impacts through any of the following three strategies: environmental protection activities that prevent, reduce or eliminate pollution or any other degradation of the environment; resource management activities that result in the more efficient use of natural resources, thus safeguarding against their depletion; or the use of goods that have been adapted to be significantly less energy or resource intensive than the industry standard.

Environmental and clean technology products are reported in two broad categories: environmental goods and services (including clean electricity, biofuels and primary goods, and waste management and remediation services), and clean technology goods and services (including manufactured goods, scientific and research and development services, construction services, and support services). The products follow the Supply and Use Product Classification used in the Canadian System of Macroeconomic Accounts.

As part of the Government of Canada's initiative to develop the Clean Technology Data Strategy, the ECTPEA provides comprehensive measures of the supply and use of environmental and clean technology products in the Canadian economy. The ECTPEA has a broader scope than the Survey of Environmental Goods and Services because it captures all economy-wide transactions in the environmental and clean technology sector, including elements such as clean energy and scrap goods. The government and non-profit sectors are also fully covered in the ECTPEA.

The compilation of the ECTPEA draws on a variety of data sources, including Statistics Canada's supply and use tables, detailed import and export statistics released in Canada's balance of international payments, and the Survey of Environmental Goods and Services.

Examples of environmental goods and services and clean technologies are available in the publication Clean technologies and the Survey of Environmental Goods and Services: A technical reference guide (Catalogue number16-511-X).

Contact information

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; STATCAN.infostats-infostats.STATCAN@canada.ca) or Media Relations (613-951-4636; STATCAN.mediahotline-ligneinfomedias.STATCAN@canada.ca).

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