Canadian Cleantech Innovation: Confronting the Climate Crisis
If you look up the term “Canadian Cleantech” on any search engine, you’ll quickly notice that there’s no shortage of daily news content covering the advancements, projects, and funding being funneled into cleantech innovation efforts currently in progress. This is mostly because, due to an influx of strong government funding support in recent years, a growing number of Canadian cleantech businesses are able to effectively research and develop viable solutions, such as products and processes, for various sectors such as manufacturing, agriculture, and automotive that advance towards a better, cleaner Canada.
The ultimate goal of clean technology innovation is to tackle the global climate change crisis by supporting worldwide efforts to reach net-zero emissions and reduce negative environmental land, water, and air impacts.
According to Export Development Canada (EDC), the global annual investment in cleantech innovation research and development was over $3 trillion in 2020, and Canada has created a strong reputation as a world leader in this innovative space by rising from 7th in 2014 to 2nd in 2021 on the Global Cleantech Innovation Index.
At the end of 2020, the Government of Canada introduced the Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act, committing Canada to reaching net-zero emissions by 2050. It also includes a $15-billion plan with 64 measures intended to achieve key targets by 2030.
Canada’s federal budgets from 2021 and 2022 also introduced further funding support for Canadian cleantech innovation with a grand investment of $7.2 billion over the next seven years via the Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF).
“Canada is home to a vibrant cleantech sector that punches above its weight, and our government is committed to supporting their important work. Canada’s cleantech companies are a critical part of our plan to reduce emissions and create economic opportunities across the country.”
– Jonathan Wilkinson, Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change
What is Clean Technology Innovation and Why is it Important?
Clean technology refers to the ongoing efforts to improve environmental outcomes, particularly in association with renewable energy production, by developing technology which reduces or removes all emissions and creates cleaner solutions for industries across the globe. These solutions aim to replace current processes that are contributing to the increase in fossil fuels and greenhouse gas emissions causing an elevated global temperature which in turn causes catastrophic events.
Scientists have long warned that if nothing is done to reverse the effects of climate change, humanity will suffer great consequences. In fact, we already are, and the evidence is even present in Canadian weather: longer heat waves, warmer winters, tornados, more wildfires raging across the country, and so forth.
The Growing Negative Outcomes of Climate Change
Ocean temperatures across the globe have risen, species are dying out, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef has been officially declared dead. There are more droughts around the world and a total of 3.5 million people are living in areas where access to water is unavailable, causing greater issues like displacement and malnourishment. Air pollution around the world is at an all-time high and the Arctic has begun to melt at alarming rates.
Tycoons, monsoons, food and water shortages, heat strokes, dying animals, malnourished humans, food production instability, fish stocks plummeting; these are just some of the many, many examples of why the absolute need for clean technology innovation is more important than ever before. To be quite candid, it should have been important more than 40 years ago when serious climate change warnings from scientists began to heavily increase in the 1960s.
If we fail to succeed with clean technology innovation efforts by the year 2050, scientists and leading experts predict that by 2100:
- People will no longer be able to walk outside and breathe the air – as it will be too heavy, polluted, and hot to take in.
- Only the privileged will be able to stay healthy with access to air purifiers, medical services, and the minimal cleantech solutions allowing them to live without illness.
- There will be extreme ongoing climate crises around the world – floods, tornados, raging wildfires, severe droughts, and more.
- Food production will be incredibly unstable, leaving millions more malnourished and economies suffering due to diseases, respiratory illnesses, and economic struggle.
- And ultimately, due to the uncertainty of unsustainable climates, the unfortunate possible demise of the human race.
Hope and Action for a Cleaner, Better Tomorrow
Fortunately, hope is never lost, and Canada is at the forefront of tackling the climate crisis.
“Our government has a plan for a cleaner and stronger economy, and Canada’s cleantech innovators will help drive the transition to a low-carbon economy while maintaining and creating good, well-paying jobs for Canadians across the country.”
– Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry
The best-case scenario for fighting climate change is now truly being sought after. If humanity is able to keep temperatures from rising past 2050 by introducing clean technology, completely substituting fossil fuels with renewable energy, and planting millions of more trees to purify the air, then we stand a chance at not only surviving as a species, but thriving.
What the World May Be Like in 2100 if Clean Technology Succeeds
Although most of us won’t be around to see the way the Earth takes shape a full century from now, it’s important to acknowledge how the steps being taken today can create a better future for our distant relatives, and how their lives may look.
If all goes well with clean technology innovation efforts before the year 2050, scientists and leading experts predict that by 2100:
- Global diets will have shifted away entirely from meat consumption and production.
- Farming efficiency will have drastically improved during the transition from industrial-scale meat production to plant-based sustenance, creating more land to rewild and reforest.
- Clean technology solutions will be providing unlimited clean energy for the people of the 22nd century.
- Cities around the world will have been redeveloped to provide all-electric public transport and vibrant green spaces.
- New buildings will be constructed to generate solar energy and green roofs which cool cities, making them a more pleasant place to live.
- High-speed electric trains will link many of the world’s major cities, intercontinental flights will still occur, but using efficient planes fueled by synthetic kerosene that’s made by combining water and carbon dioxide sucked directly from the atmosphere.
- The air could be cleaner than before the Industrial Revolution.
“We are the first generation to feel the effect of climate change and the last generation who can do something about it.”
– Barack Obama, Former US President
Examples of Canadian Cleantech Innovation: Projects and Solutions Leading Global Action Against Climate Change
Canadian Cleantech Projects Supported by the SD Tech Fund
There are countless examples of Canadian cleantech innovation projects currently in progress around the country. One of the biggest federal funding programs supporting these innovative research and development projects is the Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) Tech Fund.
The SD Tech Fund regularly provides funding to Canadian businesses working on positioning Canada towards a net-zero economy by 2050 through projects that accelerate healthier technologies creating cleaner air, soil, and water solutions.
With SDTC support, Canadian companies have generated over $2.7 billion in annual revenues, created 14,628 jobs, and brought more than 150 new cleantech solutions to market that help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The following are just some examples of Canadian cleantech innovation projects supported by SDTC in the last year:
- Molded Precision Components received $9.3 million for Pellet-to-Pallet: Green Advanced Manufacturing of Plastics.
- Terramera Inc. received $7.9 million to research and develop a soil carbon validation tool.
- OPTEL Group received $3 million to develop an Intelligent Supply Chain for Environmental Benefits.
- Edgehog Advanced Technologies Inc. received $2.5 million for their Omni-directional Anti-reflective Cover Glass for Enhanced Solar Panels project.
- Westgen Technologies Inc received $1.3 million to develop their commercial demonstration of EPOD Zero Bleed Pneumatic Instrument Air Solution project.
- Farmers Edge Inc. received $1.3 million to improve on the research and development of their real-time risk management solution systems for farmers, retailers, and other agricultural stakeholders.
The SDTC invested over $1.15 billion in Canadian cleantech innovation in the 2020-21 fiscal year.
Innovative Cleantech Projects Supported by Canada’s Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF)
Another large-scale funding program focused on providing support for Canada’s leading cleantech innovators is the Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF). As mentioned earlier, the SIF is investing $7.2 billion over the next seven years to boost cleantech innovation solutions across the country.
The SIF offers up to 50% of project costs to eligible applicants with the purpose of promoting investment into activities that drive sustained productivity and economic benefits.
A prime example of SIF funding allocated towards cleantech innovation includes $415 million awarded for the development of a new vaccine manufacturing facility in Toronto. The project hopes that, in the event of a future flu outbreak not unlike the global COVID-19 pandemic, Sanofi’s new facility will be able to produce vaccines at population scale in a clean, safe, and effective way.
Canadian Government Grants and Loans Encouraging Cleantech Innovation
Along with the SD Tech Fund and the SIF, there are numerous other government funding programs, both federal and provincial, that are providing grants and/or loans for businesses to take on research and development projects to help advance innovative cleantech solutions.
Some other programs that may be of interest in relation to tackling climate change through clean technology solutions include:
- The Clean Energy for Rural and Remote Communities Program;
- The Clean Fuels Fund;
- The Zero-Emission Vehicle Awareness Initiative (ZEVAI);
- The Innovative Solutions Canada (ISC) Program; and
- The Investments in Forest Industry Transformation (IFIT) Program
Browse all available government grant and loan programs supporting Canadian cleantech innovation by visiting our CleanTech Funding Programs Page, and make sure to stay up to date on the latest news in relation to clean technology projects and funding programs by subscribing to our free weekly e-newsletter.