Canada ragging the puck on cleantech

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By Francis Moran

While the rest of the world is moving like legendary ice-hockey great Wayne Gretzky by reading the play and positioning itself to be “where the puck is headed,” Canada is in danger of being called for delay of game, according to Ottawa-born clean technology guru Nicholas Parker, who was the keynote speaker earlier today at the Ottawa Venture and Technology Summit.

In a speech that emphasised that the shift has undeniably been made from the “save the world” social passion of environmental technology to the multi-trillion-dollar business opportunity of clean technology, Parker told the assembled entrepreneurs and venture capitalists that Canada is ragging the puck in this exciting, fast-moving and potentially immensely profitable game.

In particular, Parker, who co-founded and chairs the Cleantech Group, LLC, faulted Canada for its delay in implementing an effective carbon-trading regime. “At the Cleantech Group, we don’t really care about carbon trading,” he said, referring to a stock market-like system where companies can trade in tonnes of the carbon emissions that are the main cause of global warming and climate change. “What’s important about (carbon) trading is that it sets a price.”

That price, and the expectation that it will rapidly rise, is beginning to unlock the trillions of dollars in global investments in the development of clean technology, with Parker and his peers estimating that 2,500 jobs are created for every $100-million in new investment.

“Are those jobs going to be (created) in Shanghai or Stockholm or Silicon Valley or closer to home,” Parker asked. His answer was painful to hear. “Canada is still trying to decide if we’re going to do this,” he said, referring to the stalled efforts to launch a carbon-trading system in Canada. “Canada is lagging,” he said, and the dollars being directed into clean technology in this country “are drying up.”

The bottom line, according to Parker? “If we don’t develop the technology, we become a branch-plant economy.”

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