Clean Economy & Clean Technology
Wikipedia defines clean technology as any process, product, or service that reduces negative environmental impacts through significant energy efficiency improvements, the sustainable use of resources, or environmental protection activities. Clean technology is tied to natural resource management; as a natural resource economy, Canada should have a competitive advantage in this space.
In Budget 2017, the Government of Canada announced the creation of the six Economic Strategy tables which would assemble sector leaders in advanced manufacturing, agri-food, clean technology, digital industries, health/bio-sciences and resources of the future. The Tables, chaired by industry leaders, were asked to set ambitious growth targets, identify sector-specific challenges and "bottlenecks", and lay out an actionable roadmap to achieve their goals.
The resulting Clean Technology paper found that:
Global clean technology activity is expected to exceed $2.5 trillion by 2022. As a strong innovator and producer of clean technology solutions, Canada is well positioned to seize the opportunities this growth presents both at home and abroad. Canadian clean technology developers have already proven their capacity for practical, real-world, results-driven innovation. These solutions are key to supporting Canada’s transition to a low-carbon economy and enabling other industries to become cleaner, with improved environmental outcomes and competitiveness. Canada is ready to meet the world’s needs.
Each of the four major parties agree that Clean Technology should play an important and growing role in the economy. The differences lie in how innovation should be funded and by whom, and whether clean technology is in support of or in conflict with traditional natural resource development.
The Government of Canada touts that Canada is number one in the G20 for cleantech innovation. Twelve companies recognized on the 2019 Global Cleantech 100 List are Canadian. In 2017, clean technology industries contributed $28.4 billion to Canada’s GDP, and employed over 183,000 Canadians. Clean technology exports reached $9 billion in 2017, an 11 percent increase from the previous year.
However, as noted in a report released on July 2nd by the Canada Cleantech Alliance, titled Flowing Investment to Scale Clean Technology, scaling up Canadian clean technology companies has proven to be difficult.
The Report noted that despite being poised for growth,
Canadian cleantech companies, tend to experience slower growth and raise less capital than their U.S. or global counterparts. Due to the capital-intensive nature of many clean technologies, longer payback periods, lower returns, and unique technological and political risks, many investors choose to avoid these companies. Financing gaps are especially acute in the later stages of financing and development, typically past a first demonstration or pilot project and pre-sales. Experience also suggests there is a lack of tools to equip Canadian companies with the capabilities and expertise to export internationally.
The Liberal Government has offered a number of approaches to help remedy this situation. The Liberals have supported the clean technology sector over the past four years by:
- Investing over $2.3 billion for hundreds of clean technology projects, from early-stage development to commercialization and export;
- Opening applications for funding from a range of sources, including the Energy Innovation Program, the Clean Growth Program and the Impact Canada Initiative;
- Committing to doubling federal clean energy research and development as part of the global Mission Innovation project;
- Creating the Clean Growth Hub as a one-stop-shop to help clean technology innovators get the federal support they need; and,
- Highlighting the importance of clean technology in new international trade deals such as the new NAFTA, CETA and CPTPP.
On June 28th the Liberals released a paper that summarizes their environmental achievements during their current four-year mandate. Titled Clean Canada: Protecting the Environment and Growing Our Economy, the paper offers a snapshot of the Liberal record, including:
- putting a price on carbon pollution across Canada
- phasing out traditional coal-fired power plants and investing in renewable energy
- expanding public transit in communities across the country
- investing in energy efficiency to help families and businesses save money
- investing in made-in-Canada technologies and clean solutions
- improving building codes and standards so our homes and buildings use less energy
- finding cleaner alternatives to diesel in remote communities
- raising standards so our cars run on cleaner fuels and cost less to operate
- doubling the amount of nature we protect
- keeping plastics in the economy and out of our environment.
The paper is not a platform document, but rather a summary of work done to date. However, at a high level the Government commits to continuing to make progress going forward in areas such as cleaner fuels, renewable energy projects and investing in energy efficiency and clean technology.
The Conservative Party’s environment plan, titled A Real Plan to Protect Our Environment, has as its first main theme “Green Technology, not Taxes.” Under this pillar of the plan, the CPC promises to support green technology innovation, development and adoption. Specifically, the plan commits to:
- Set emissions standards for major emitters that will lower greenhouse gases and drive Canadian businesses to the highest standards of green technology.
- Develop a Green Investment Standards Certification program to determine whether specific projects, investments, funds, or other instruments support the development or adoption of emissions-reducing technology.
- Create a two-year Green Homes Tax Credit (GHTC) for homeowners to help pay for energy-saving renovations.
- Establish a retrofit code for those who wish to undertake an environmental retrofit.
- Ensure the legal supports required to develop a market for Energy Savings Performance Contracting (ESPC) are in place to drive building renovation in the long term.
- Establish a voluntary net-zero ready building standard.
- Encourage the greater use of wood and low-carbon cement in construction projects.
- Establish a Green Patent Credit that will reduce the tax rate to 5% on income that is generated from green technology developed and patented in Canada.
- Leverage up to $1 billion in private investment in new venture capital for Canadian green technology companies. This will build on the success of the previous Conservative government’s Venture Capital Action Plan. We will do this by providing $250 million for a fund managed by the private sector and separate from government. The private sector will be required to invest $4 for each government dollar. We will recover this money for taxpayers by selling the investment when the company gets off the ground and reaches commercial potential. We will consult with industry to make sure our plan supports the best mix of early-stage to late-stage development.
- Create a single online hub for green technology innovators that will help them identify where they can find talent, information, and resources from the private and public sectors.
- Pursue opportunities to connect regions and communities with clean power.
- Foster the adoption of smart grid technology and strategic interconnection of electricity grids.
- Foster the adoption of renewable power technologies.
- Work with provinces, territories and stakeholders to increase the availability and use of renewable fuels and to decrease the carbon intensity of Canada’s fuel mix.
- Provide targeted accelerated capital cost allowances to industries that can be shown to reduce emissions in other countries, and to producers who can be shown to be among the least carbon-intensive in the world in their industry.
- Expand Export Development Canada (EDC) programs to issue more green bonds that provide financing for the development of emissions-reducing technologies.
- Launch the ‘Canadian Clean’ brand for Canadian products that are the cleanest in the world. The Canadian Clean brand will allow buyers in Canada and around the world to have confidence that they are getting a high-quality product that is making a difference for our environment.
The NDP platform commits to federal government leadership in energy efficiency, clean technologies, and renewable energy use. An NDP Government would ensure that the federal government procures from Canadian companies producing clean technology, ensure that federal buildings use renewable energy, and move the vehicle fleets of the federal government to electric by 2025, choosing made-in-Canada wherever possible.
New Democrats would also set a target to power Canada with net carbon-free electricity by 2030, and move to 100% non-emitting electricity by 2050. To drive this progress, the NDP would establish a new Canadian Climate Bank. This bank would help boost investment in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and low carbon technology across the country. It also provide support for interested provinces to inter-connect power grids and introduce smart grid technology, to bolster Canada’s energy security and distribute clean power across the country. The Climate Bank would support made-in -Canada manufacturing of renewable energy components and technologies, and help scale up Canada’s clean energy industry.
In its Vision Green platform document, the Green Party calls on all levels of government to advance a green economic approach through effective tax and policy measures, and appropriate skills and trades training at the secondary and post-secondary levels.
The platform notes that the shift to a post-fossil fuel economy is the single biggest business opportunity in human history. “Whether this is driven by the need to end the recession through economic stimulus, high energy extraction costs, or collapsing oil prices, strategic geopolitical threats to foreign oil, the climate crisis, or all of them combined,” the platform continues, “the country that mobilizes resources to develop and commercialize smarter technologies (e.g. alternate fuels, renewable energy, and energy efficiency) will survive and thrive.”
To support this vision, the Green Party call on Canada to:
- Significantly invest in a National Clean Tech/Energy program;
- Establish a federally-funded Green Venture Capital Fund to support viable small local green business start-ups; and,
- Set up a Green Venture Capital Funding Program providing matching federal funds for locally-raised venture capital up to a set limit per community.
In addition to pledges made last week, Liberals unveiled new cleantech related promises, including:
Clean Power Fund:
- A new $5 billion fund to help support the electrification of Canadian industries including resources and manufacturing sectors to make Canada home to the cleanest mills, mines, and factories in the world.
- The fund will help support the transition of northern, remote, and Indigenous communities off reliance on diesel-fueled power and onto clean, renewable, reliable energy.
- Sourced through the Canada Infrastructure Bank’s (CIB) existing resources.
Support for Cleaner Fuels
- Moving forward with a new technology and commercial support fund, administered through Western Economic Diversification, that will help connect farmers, researchers, agribusinesses, and energy companies, and help give producers an advantage in the clean economy.
Clean Energy Transition
- Liberals committed to invest every dollar earned from the Trans Mountain Expansion Project onto Canada’s clean energy transition.
- Revenues from sale of the pipelines plus the federal income tax revenues will be invested in natural climate solutions (like the two billion trees commitment) and clean energy projects.
- The Liberal Party estimates additional federal corporate income tax revenues resulting from TMX would generate $500 million per year once project is complete.
The Green Party has promised to develop a national transportation strategy and to use existing Canada Post infrastructure to enhance rural services. Speaking to reporters and supporters in Sackville, N.B., party leader Elizabeth May said that rural travel has become more difficult with reduced Via Rail services and cancelled bus routes in B.C., Saskatchewan and the Maritimes. A Green government, May said, will implement new legislation dubbed the Via Rail Act, which will lead to Ottawa investing $600 million in 2020-21 to develop regional rail networks, and to aim for zero-carbon public transportation by 2040.
“People living in rural and remote communities have virtually no access to public transportation,” May said. “This is unacceptable.”
May said many Canadians rely on Via Rail service as inter-city bus routes dry up, noting the cancellation of Greyhound service across western Canada. She said that train service needs be on time and daily, adding that in some cities, trains only leave every couple of days.
To fix this, May said a Green government would build more tracks so Via Rail trains are not held up by freight trains and would travel on schedule. The party plans to use the railways primarily, with spokes of light rail and electric bus connections to achieve a national transportation strategy.
The Liberal government in June pledged $71.1 million to help push forward Via Rail’s proposal for a high-frequency rail corridor stretching from Toronto to Quebec City. The proposed $4-billion high-frequency rail project would see Via Rail construct its own dedicated rail line along the corridor, allowing for faster and more frequent service. Trains in the region currently run on tracks shared with cargo vehicles.
A Green government would also implement a host of services for rural communities using existing Canada Post infrastructure, said May, adding that Canada Post can be made financially stable by diversifying its services. Postal door-to-door services will be reinstated, postal carries will check on people with mobility issues, and Canada Post will establish banking services in remote regions, she said.
The party also plans to use Canada Post offices for public high-speed internet access and community meetings. The Canada Post fleet will be upgraded to electric vehicles under a Green government, according to May.
“It is doable, it’s within our budget,” she said, adding that the budget for the Green platform will be released Wednesday and include cost estimates from the Parliamentary Budget Officer.
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau announced that if re-elected, his government would cut corporate taxes by 50% for clean technology companies that fosters the “zero emissions economy”, including companies developing zero emissions vehicles.
On September 24th, Liberal candidate for Ottawa Centre and Minister of Environment and Climate Change for the Trudeau Liberal Government currently running for re-election announced a number of environment related commitments if a Liberal Government were re-elected. The measures include:
- Commit Canada to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, joining 65 other countries and the European Union that made the pledge
- Set legally-binding, five-year milestones, based on the advice of the experts and consultations with Canadians, to reach net-zero emissions by 2050;
- Appoint a group of scientists, economists, and experts to recommend the best path to get to net-zero;
- Exceed Canada’s 2030 emissions goal; and
- Ensure energy workers and communities can shape their own futures by introducing a Just Transition Act, giving workers access to the training, support, and new opportunities needed to succeed in the future economy.
The Liberal Party press release reads that “these commitments build on the Liberals’ climate record that already includes over 50 measures to cut pollution and protect our environment.” Items highlighted on the release include:
- Banning harmful single-use plastics and microbeads;
- Phasing out coal power by 2030 and investing in renewables like wind and solar;
- Putting a price on carbon pollution so it’s no longer free to pollute anywhere in Canada, while putting more money back into Canadians’ pockets;
- Building 1,200 public transit projects across the country;
- Making zero-emission vehicles more accessible and affordable; and
- Investing in energy efficiency to help families and businesses save money.
On Monday September 16th, Elizabeth May unveiled the Green Party Election Platform 2019. A Green Government would implement a number of measures including:
Mining: Support the transition of the mining sector to an innovation hub for greener technologies, commercialized and attractive to export markets, including $40 million for the proposed Sudbury-based mining innovation cluster.
Establish a Canadian Sustainable Generations Fund to make critical investments in trades, apprenticeships and education required for the transition to a green economy. These investments in skills training will complement targeted national infrastructure investments in energy efficiency, renewable energy production, digital upgrades, clean-tech manufacturing and emerging technologies, tourism, the creative economy, and the care economy.
Establish a just transition framework for oil, gas and coal sector workers that reflects the unique conditions of each province, modeled on the recommendations of the Task Force on Just Transition for Canadian Coal Power Workers and Communities.
Mining: Support the transition of the mining sector to an innovation hub for greener technologies, commercialized and attractive to export markets, including $40 million for the proposed Sudbury-based mining innovation cluster.
Geothermal and district energy: Work with provincial governments to determine which orphaned oil and gas wells are geologically suited to produce geothermal energy. This will turn provincial liabilities into potential income-generating renewable energy, ideally in partnership with First Nations. Those with weaker geothermal energy potential may be used in district energy, including for greenhouses.
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May says that based on her opponents' current climate plans she wouldn't be prepared to prop up any minority government.
That means, should the Oct. 21 federal election result in a minority government with the Greens holding the balance of power, May says Canadians could be headed back to the polls.
May would rather defeat a government and ultimately force Canadians back to the polls rather than allow a party with a climate plan not up to her standards to govern.
A non-profit environmentalist group is publicly endorsing 25 individual candidates, representing all four major national parties, in the upcoming 2019 election who it believes will put the “environment first,” regardless of party platforms.
The list of candidates endorsed by GreenPAC features seven candidates each from the NDP and Liberals, six from the Green Party and four from the Conservatives, as well as one independent: former health minister Jane Philpott.
“We don’t look at party platforms or campaign promises. We look for individuals that have a proven track record of leading on issues like waste, land protection, energy production and climate change,” GreenPAC’s executive director Sabrina Bowman explained in a prepared statement.
GreenPAC says it will support the endorsed candidates by encouraging environmentally-oriented Canadians to “donate to or volunteer for their campaigns.” In the 2015 federal election, GreenPAC endorsed 18 candidates, of which 14 were elected. For the 2019 pool, eight candidates are running in B.C. ridings, seven in Ontario and four in Quebec, three in Manitoba and three in the Atlantic Provinces, including two in Prince Edward Island.
Among the notable names: Environment Minister Catherine McKenna (Ottawa Centre, Ont.), Science and Sport Minister Kirsty Duncan (Etobicoke North, Ont.), Treasury Board President Joyce Murray (Vancouver Quadra, B.C.), Green Party Leader Elizabeth May (Saanich —Gulf Islands, B.C.), former Conservative leadership hopeful Michael Chong (Wellington —Halton Hills, Ont.) and Grassy Narrows Chief and NDP candidate Rudy Turtle (Kenora, Ont.). Also included on the list is Quebec Liberal candidate Steven Guilbeault, a high-profile environmentalist who co-founded Equiterre and has been outspoken in his opposition to pipeline projects, including the Trans Mountain expansion.
Minister of Environment Catherine McKenna has doubled back on her promise to stop the carbon price at $50 per tonne by 2022, suggesting that — if re-elected — the Liberal government will review the tax with provinces before making any definitive decisions.
McKenna originally pledged in June that the Liberals would not increase the price of the carbon tax beyond $50 per tonne. She was responding to a report released by the Parliamentary Budget Officer suggesting the federal government would need to increase the carbon tax to $102 per tonne to meet international GHG-reduction commitments.
While Ottawa is not currently planning to increase the tax beyond the original promise, McKenna reportedly told the Globe and Mail that a decision on future rates would be made “toward the end of the next mandate after consultations with provinces, territories, businesses and Canadians more broadly.”
A group of activists in Toronto delivered a petition with more than 45,000 signatures to the CBC Friday morning, asking the broadcaster to host a federal leader's debate on climate change ahead of the October federal election. The petition was organized by four advocacy groups: Leadnow.ca and North99, along with the climate-change-focused 350 Canada and OurTime, which recently made headlines with a campaign for a Canadian Green New Deal. In a statement, LeadNow said the CBC has a responsibility as a public broadcaster to "provide a platform about this unprecedented national emergency so voters can clearly see where leaders stand on climate and what they’re prepared to do about it.”
Right now, there are two debates expected ahead of the federal election, which must happen on or before Oct. 21. An English debate is proposed for Oct. 7, with a French one proposed for Oct. 10. Neither date has been finalized, but the events would be held in the Ottawa area.
The federal government announced earlier this month that they planned to put three percent of this year’s carbon tax revenue towards making schools more energy efficient in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick (jurisdictions where they collect the carbon tax). The federal government is negotiating an agreement with the Manitoba School Boards Association to accept and distribute carbon tax revenue (estimated at $5.3 million) intended for energy efficiency retrofits within Manitoba schools. Last month, the money was rejected by Premier Brian Pallister.
Six in ten Canadians want the government to take action to address climate change, even if the economy suffers, new results from a Mainstreet poll suggests. Over 85 per cent of respondents agreed that private companies should have to pay to pollute, including 69.1 per cent who strongly agreed. Support was highest in Quebec (89.1 per cent) and lowest in Alberta, though at 75.2 per cent agreeing, opposition to the concept is still rather marginal.
Also, just under 68 per cent of respondents agreed that there’s a collective moral duty to future generations to not destroy the environment further, even if it means paying more taxes in the short term. As with the other responses, support was highest in Quebec (70.2 per cent), above the national average in B.C. (71.5) and Ontario (69.9), and lowest in Alberta (53).
It is interesting to compare how the issue of Climate Change and the impact of climate action on the economy aligns with political support across Canadian provinces. Alberta saw the lowest percentage of support for climate action on these questions whereas Quebec saw the highest. Similarly, the CPC has a commanding lead in Alberta, per recent 338 polling, if the election were held today, 33/34 seats would be blue, in contrast, 49/ 78 of Quebec seats would be Liberal. With three out of four choices left of center on the climate change issue, the CPC stands to benefit from a fragmented left in traditionally progressive regions.