Canadas Future in Net Zero World

A global transition to a net-zero, low-carbon economy is underway, and Canada needs a more coordinated and strategic approach for positioning its industries in the value chains of the 21st century green economy.

That is a key finding from a new research partnership between the Smart Prosperity Institute, the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions (PICS), and the Transition Accelerator. The group has released a PICS brief which summarises the full report of the research supported by PICS and the Ivey Foundation.

While Canada has taken significant actions to transition to a low carbon economy, the group says Canada’s major trading partners and competitors are being more strategic in positioning their economies within rapidly forming low-carbon value chains.

The European Union for example has advanced battery and hydrogen strategies. Australia has a technology roadmap that aims to gain market share in many of the same net-zero industries that Canada operates in. And the United Kingdom has deployed industrial strategies for offshore wind, and carbon capture and storage

The research identifies that existing funds and policies to support clean competitiveness in Canada are fragmented across governments and the private sector, with investments spread thin across sectors, often involving one-off grants to individual firms.

Instead, they argue, a clean growth strategy should focus on top economic opportunities, integrate policy tools and support public-private partnerships that co-produce roadmaps for sectoral development and investment.

This brief proposes a method of sectoral road mapping and collaborative action to begin this work. It identifies seven high priority opportunities, three enabling conditions, and eight further opportunities for clean growth development in Canada.

Enabling opportunities exist in net-zero minerals, carbon accounting and expansion of the clean grid. And important opportunities exist for net-zero mining operations, production of battery metals, smart energy tech for buildings, manufacture of non-ice marine shipping and fuel cell capacity, biofuels and manufacture of short-haul aircraft, vertical agriculture and low emissions fertilizers. See Table 1 for full details.

Table 1  - click to expand

Recommendations for next steps;

1.    Focus strategic efforts in high priority areas.
2.    Engage in collaborative roadmap exercises.
3.    Take a cluster approach, focusing on the highest value-added areas .
4.    Use roadmaps to focus existing funding streams and inspire new strategic investments.
5.    Build intermediary organizations that can support green industrial strategy.