Opinion: Canada needs a clean technology strategy to achieve its emissions and sustainability goals

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister of Environment and Climate Change Steven Guilbeault hold a press conference at COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland on November 2, 2021.Sean Kilpatrick / The Canadian Press

Dr Maryam Golnaraghi is Director of Climate Change at The Geneva Association, a think tank for CEOs in the global insurance industry and is a member of the Climate Stream at the Creative Destruction Lab in Vancouver.

An Unprecedented transformation in all sectors of society is needed to achieve ambitious net zero goals over the coming decades.

As we seek ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, new technologies, new decision-making processes and clean / green infrastructure need to be developed and deployed on a large scale throughout the economy.

Canada is one of the largest economies in the world, with a heavy dependence on some of the highest emitting sectors, such as oil and gas extraction, mining, agriculture, and construction and construction. .

These industries – along with the financial institutions that provide their capital – are seeing a proliferation of climate change commitments and strategies. The federal government, meanwhile, is pursuing a series of policies to drive the transformation to meet its commitment to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

However, we urgently need a better alignment of these efforts. Within the federal government, departments, agencies and Crown corporations need to take a more collaborative and coordinated approach to meet Canada’s sustainability goals and low-carbon transition targets.

As he begins his new term, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should seize the opportunity offered by the United Nations COP26 meeting to reaffirm the centrality of climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts for his government.

Decarbonizing the Canadian economy requires a clear strategy led by Ottawa and developed in concert with the private sector, provinces and territories. It needs overhauled decision-making processes where central agencies like the Privy Council Office and the Department of Finance impose clearer mandates and spending priorities that implement federal strategy.

It is essential for Canada to expand the reach of ongoing climate technology innovation and rapidly deploy viable disruptive technologies in its key sectors as well as green infrastructure systems. As the The Canadian Institute for Climate Choices recently noted, failing to do so will mean the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in export revenues upon which the country depends.

The success will also position Canada as a world leader and exporter of climate technologies.

Funding is available, but it needs to be guided by consistent policies, meaningful and comparable data, and corporate engagement at the highest level.

According to Climate Tech VC, there has been a significant increase in funding for climate technology startups across North America. In the second quarter of this year, innovative cleantech firms raised US $ 16 billion in 250 venture capital deals, with the average deal size at the same stage almost double what it was a year earlier. .

A clear national strategy on climate technological innovation should be part of Canada’s overall economic development and decarbonization priorities. Tax incentives, grants, loans and grants, and enabling regulations are essential to spur research and innovation, encourage startups and top experts to stay in Canada, and help create market demand for these technologies in the public and private sectors.

The activities of a myriad of federal agencies – including Sustainable Development Technology Canada, the Canada Infrastructure Bank, Business Development, the Bank of Canada and others – must be harmonized and strengthened.

We need to ensure that there is a reliable ecosystem of funding and market support for climate technology developed in Canada.

The sustainable finance framework, co-led by Finance Canada and Environment and Climate Change Canada in collaboration with the financial sector, can mobilize key investors to enable more investment in climate technology development and large-scale deployment.

Canada’s Sustainable Finance Action Council must ensure the inclusion of research and innovation, as well as emerging technologies as an asset class to lead sustainable finance for technological innovations and a well-functioning low-carbon market.

New climate technologies carry a myriad of risks that must be assessed, costed and managed for sector adoption, large-scale implementation and mobilization of private capital.

The government can build strong partnerships with the technology and engineering communities and companies in different economic sectors, including insurance and banking, to innovate and address these risks.

The fundamental challenge for Canada is to integrate the deployment of clean technologies and sustainable finance in the sectors that have long been the engine of the country’s prosperity in order to maximize our opportunities in net zero transformation. It won’t happen with a random approach. This requires a national strategy widely accepted by society.

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