A growing clean technology industry in Canada contributes to clean growth and the transition to a low-carbon economy
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Why is this issue important
We know that a clean and healthy environment and a strong economy must go hand in hand in the modern world. We're taking action to support clean growth and transition to a more resource-efficient, lower-pollution, low-carbon economy.
Around the world, demand is increasing for technologies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase resilience to climate change, and improve the quality of air and water. The global clean technology market is expected to exceed $2.5 trillion by 2022 and continue to grow, with the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate estimating that by 2030, the clean economy will grow to $26 trillion and create 65 million jobs worldwide. Canada's clean technology companies are well positioned to compete and win in this large and growing global market.
When it comes to clean technology, Canada has the opportunity to be a true global leader. By investing in clean technology innovation, we can generate economic growth while helping to meet our climate change goals. We recognize the potential in the transition to clean growth and are taking action to boost Canada's clean technology activity. By developing and adopting clean technologies, Canadian companies are creating opportunities to become globally competitive while reducing impacts on climate, water, land and air.
Canada-wide strategy on zero plastic waste
In Canada, approximately 3 million tonnes of plastic waste are sent to landfills every year. That is why provinces, territories and the Government of Canada propose to move toward a circular economy for plastics by pursuing zero plastic waste. A circular approach to plastic waste aims to keep products and materials in use as long as possible, maximize their value, and close the loop on waste by reusing, repairing, remanufacturing and recycling, to the extent possible.
To this end, in November 2018 federal, provincial and territorial ministers approved in principle a Canada-wide strategy on zero plastic waste and committed to develop an Action Plan to implement the strategy.
The strategy outlines a vision to keep plastics in the economy, and out of landfills and the environment, and identifies 10 results areas that will drive the development of future actions:
- product design
- single-use plastics
- collection systems
- recycling capacity
- consumer awareness
- aquatic activities
- research and monitoring
- global action
The 10th Clean Energy and 4th Mission Innovation (CEM10/MI-4) ministerials
In May 2019, Canada hosted the Clean Energy and Mission Innovation ministerials in Vancouver, BC. The goal of CEM10/MI-4 is to accelerate the transition to a clean energy future by collaborating on the development and deployment of clean technologies and solutions. The event brought together ministers from over 25 countries, as well as leaders from industry and international organizations. Canada worked closely with the international community to deliver key outcomes that complement and leverage our domestic activities and priorities while demonstrating Canada's leadership on the world stage. Canada positioned itself as a global leader in inclusivity by highlighting the leadership of women, youth and Indigenous peoples. The Innovation Showcase, a 2-day trade show event, cultivated commercial networks, highlighted investment opportunities and showcased Canadian innovation.
Generating New Opportunities: Indigenous Off-diesel Initiative
Developed by Natural Resources Canada in collaboration with Indigenous Clean Energy Social Enterprise and the Pembina Institute, the Indigenous Off-diesel Initiative will help communities move away from using diesel by supporting the development of community-led cleaner energy projects.
An all-Indigenous panel of jurors will select up to 15 Energy Champions who will receive specialized clean energy training. Energy Champions and their communities will be eligible to receive up to $1.3 million over a 36-month period as they achieve key milestones including a comprehensive community energy plan, additional training and mentoring, and project design and development.
Leading communities will then be pre-qualified to receive additional funding (up to $9 million total) from the Clean Energy for Rural and Remote Communities program to continue implementing the energy plan.
Canada in the world
Investing in clean technology and innovation supports the 2030 Agenda and its global sustainable development goals—in particular SDG 9, Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure; SDG 12, Responsible Consumption and Production; SDG 13, Climate Action; and SDG 17, Partnerships for the Goals. It also supports specific SDG targets, as well as other international agreements and initiatives.
For details on how this goal supports international action, see Annex 3.
Connections with other FSDS areas
Investing in clean technology and innovation supports economic growth, as well as FSDS targets related to climate action, clean energy, greening government, sustainable food, and building safe and healthy communities:
- clean technology can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase climate resilience
- investing in clean energy technology will make Canada's energy system more sustainable
- we are helping to support the transition to a low-carbon economy by adopting clean technology in our own operations and undertaking clean technology demonstration projects
- investing in clean technology reduces reliance on fossil-fuel generated electricity and heat in rural and remote areas and supports economic development and healthy and sustainable communities
- investing in clean technology is helping sectors such as forestry, fisheries, mining, energy, agriculture and manufacturing, and their related supply chains, become more sustainable and competitive
Canada's clean technology producers and users, academic institutions, Indigenous organizations, provinces and territories, and municipalities all play a role in advancing clean technology and clean jobs. Canadian companies are taking the lead in developing and adopting technologies that contribute to a low-carbon economy. Meanwhile, provinces, territories and others are working to further encourage technology research, development and adoption. For example:
- British Columbia's #BCTECH Strategy includes measures to increase adopting and exporting clean technologies
- Alberta's AB Innovates and Emission Reduction Alberta that invest in research and innovation, and accelerates developing clean technologies aimed at improving the environment
- Ontario supports the Ontario Centres of Excellence, a not-for-profit program that helps to commercialize academic research and invests in early-stage projects with commercial potential
- Quebec's Technoclimat Program encourages developing new technologies and innovative processes related to energy efficiency and emerging energy sources
- Nova Scotia's Innovacorp is the province's early stage venture capital organization. It provides early-stage investment, as well as hands-on business advisory services
- Cold Climate Innovation at the Yukon Research Centre provides seed money to individuals and companies to develop prototypes that can be tested and moved towards commercialization
- Clusters of business incubators and accelerators such as Toronto's MaRS Discovery District and the Digital Media Zone at Ryerson University connect investors, educators, researchers, social scientists, entrepreneurs and business experts
Provinces and territories are also investing in their workforce so that more Canadians can participate in the clean growth economy. For example:
- Alberta's Coal Workforce Transition Program and Coal Community Transition Fund support workers and communities affected by the phase-out of coal-fired electricity generation transition toward employment in new, emerging sectors
- Ontario's Second Career program assists workers in developing the necessary skills for in-demand jobs
Partners taking action - Enhanced modified vapour extraction
MEG Energy Corp is using an enhanced vapour extraction technology to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from oil sands extraction, reduce water use, and increase efficiency. Applying the technology is expected to result in cost savings while minimizing environmental impacts to land, air and water. This project was developed with support from Natural Resources Canada.
Partners taking action - Carbon Engineering: air to fuel
Since starting in 2015, British Columbia based Carbon Engineering has been able to capture 1 tonne of carbon dioxide from the air at its pilot Direct Air Capture plant in Squamish, British Columbia. They are pioneering a scalable technology to capture carbon dioxide from the air and combine it with hydrogen atoms released from other clean energy sources to turn it into liquid fuels for transportation. The clean-burning synthetic fuels will contribute to the low-carbon economy and reduce emissions. This project was developed with support from Natural Resources Canada.
Partners taking action - Alberta Carbon Conversion Technology Centre
Owned and operated by InnoTech Alberta, the Alberta Carbon Conversion Technology Centre is working to advance technologies to turn carbon dioxide emissions into usable products such as building materials, alternative fuels and commercial goods. This work, supported by Natural Resources Canada, will help reduce emissions while creating local jobs in the surrounding community.
Responsible ministers/Key departments and agencies
Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development; Minister of Natural Resources/ Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency; Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions; Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency; Employment and Social Development Canada; Environment and Climate Change Canada; Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario; Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario; Global Affairs Canada; Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada; National Research Council Canada; Natural Resources Canada; Standards Council of Canada; Statistics Canada; Sustainable Development Technology Canada; Western Economic Diversification Canada
Canada's starting point
To measure the growth of Canada's clean technology sector, we track the contribution of clean technology to GDP, as well as the number of jobs related to clean technology. According to the Environmental and Clean Technology Products Economic Account, in 2017, environmental and clean technology goods and services accounted for 1.4% ($28.4 billion) of Canada's GDP. This sector also accounted for approximatively 183 000 jobs (2017) or 1% of jobs in Canada. Clean technology exports totaled $9 billion in 2017, an increase of $900 million (11%) from 2016.