Canadian business is failing to take advantage of the exploding global market for green technology, according to a study by the Conference Board of Canada. The report indicated that Canadian business could do much more to leverage its strengths in cleantech.
The report titled, Global Climate-Friendly Trade: Canada’s Chance to Clean Up, said world trade in cleantech grew by an average of 10 percent annually from 2002 to 2008. But it said Canada’s exports in that area didn’t grow at all during that period.
“The trade data suggest that Canada is not deeply engaged in the global market for climate-friendly technologies,” the report says. “To the degree that it is involved, it is more of a technology adopter than a technology maker.”
The report estimates that total global imports of technologies that help to cut greenhouse gas emissions were $209 billion in 2008. Canada’s share of that was $4 billion.
“Governments should eliminate domestic and international barriers to developing, trading, and investing in climate-friendly technologies,” the report urges.
“Canada will not be a leader in everything, but it is not too late for this country to be a leader in some technologies, parts of technologies, or related services,” said the report’s author, Danielle Goldfarb, who is also associate director of the Conference Board’s International Trade and Investment Centre.
According to Goldfarb, Canada’s relative strengths are largely attributable to its geography and its resource base. If properly harnessed, Canada could become a world leaders in specific climate-friendly technologies and services like gas turbines, membranes for landfills, waste containers and photovoltaic system controllers.
The report makes it clear that Canadian businesses have the potential to be leaders in some of these technologies if they adopt more globally oriented business practices and get more policy support from government.
With Canada producing only one 10th of Germany’s cleantech output, the country has a long way to go to catch up to the Europeans. An important part of the issue is about the direction of national policy. While Canada is doing very little, the European Union is committed to cutting emissions by up to 30 per cent on 1990 levels.
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