Canada has a competitive edge in clean tech: report

Conference Board of Canada
July 11, 2017
Written by Conference Board of Canada
July 11, 2017 - Canada has a competitive edge in a few key climate-friendly technologies including wind and solar power, energy efficient turbines, and waste management, according to a new Conference Board of Canada report.

"Despite U.S. President Trump rolling back climate-friendly policies, the world is moving toward a cleaner, low-carbon economy and this represents a huge opportunity for Canadian companies," said Jacqueline Palladini, senior economist, The Conference Board of Canada. "Canadian innovators, investors, and producers can play a key role in helping the world's businesses decrease their carbon footprint and lessen adverse environmental impacts by capitalizing on their global export strengths."

Highlights
  • Global trade in climate-friendly technologies exceeds $250 billion each year.
  • Canada has global export strengths in 17 climate-friendly technologies, in the areas of renewable energy, energy efficiency, and waste management.
  • The 17 global export strengths identified in the report accounted for 76 per cent of Canada's climate-friendly goods exports in 2015.
Businesses and institutions – notably in Europe, China, and North America – are actively reducing their carbon footprint and are investing heavily to secure both the environmental and economic benefits of the transition to a low-carbon economy. In recent years, investments in renewable energy alone topped $286 billion in 2015 and global trade in climate-friendly technologies totals more than $250 billion each year. Despite current political uncertainty surrounding the environment at the federal level in the U.S., actions at the state level could continue to generate demand for climate-friendly products in the coming years.

However, global trade in climate-friendly technologies has been outpacing Canadian exports for some time, leading to a declining global market share. While Canada does lead the way on cleantech research undertaken by academic institutions, it has not been competitive in commercializing that research into market-ready technologies. Canadian climate-friendly businesses also face a highly competitive global market. Financing and funding is often more abundant in competitor countries, where more streamlined climate policies provide clear incentives that foster a thriving climate-friendly sector.

The report, Clean Trade: Canada's Global Opportunities in Climate-Friendly Technologies, assesses Canadian export strengths and performance in climate-friendly technologies and identifies 17 climate-friendly products and related services where Canada has a competitive edge, including:
  • Renewable energy: photovoltaic system controllers, towers and clutches for wind turbines, photosensitive semiconductors, biomass gasification tanks, and solar collectors
  • Energy efficiency: heating and cooling technologies and gas turbines (excluding turbo jets)
  • Waste management technologies: large waste containers, wastewater filters, liners, and membranes used by oil refineries, landfills, and gas stations
The 17 global export strengths identified in the report accounted for 76 per cent of Canada's climate-friendly goods exports in 2015. Canada is also among the world leaders in carbon capture and storage technologies, which represent another important market opportunity for Canadian businesses.

A new interactive website identifies and compares Canadian export strengths at the provincial level. These strengths range from energy-efficient appliance parts in British Columbia to clutches and universal joints for wind turbines in Ontario. Jacqueline Palladini will host a live webinar on this subject on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017 at 2 p.m.

The report is published by the Global Commerce Centre, a Conference Board of Canada's research centre that provides evidence-based tools to help companies and governments respond successfully to the trends reshaping the global business environment.

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