Seize the Moment for Cleantech Exports, Business Think Tank Urges Ottawa
With interest in climate policy and solutions on the rise in Canada and around the world, one of the country’s leading business think tanks says the country must pay more attention to a burgeoning export market for clean technology goods and services.
“Much of the cleantech discussion in Canada has focused on the domestic market for the production and consumption of low-carbon energy,” write Conference Board of Canada Senior Fellow Glen Hodgson and Senior Manager Brent Dowdall in a Globe and Mail opinion piece. “But there is a much larger business opportunity waiting in the international green-trade market.”
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Global trade in “climate-friendly technologies” stood at US$250 billion in 2015, they note, citing the United Nations Environment Programme, en route to more than $2 trillion by 2020, “and this increasingly looks like a conservative estimate.” If they keep their eyes on domestic markets, Canadian businesses and policy-makers will be tying themselves down with a country that represents only 2% of global GDP.
“A strong green export strategy for Canadian firms will look to energy-transforming markets—such as the European Union, California and other U.S. states with low-carbon goals, China, and elsewhere in Asia—to seek growth opportunities and to understand the latest trends in lower-carbon production and consumption, regulation, monitoring, and enforcement,” Hodgson and Dowdall state. “Firms and their many suppliers would be able to reach customers around the world for sales of their ‘green and clean’ products and services,” then bring Canadian customers the “best available products and services at desirable prices”.
The Conference Board warns, though, that Canada is “late to the party: firms in Europe, China, and elsewhere have already seized the initiative to sell into the growing lower-carbon market globally.” Beyond cleantech products, Hodgson and Dowdall say an integrated export development strategy would address the market for green services, integration of cleantech products and services in global value chains, and the life cycle climate and environmental impacts of traded goods, beginning with the energy they embody.