Smart Prosperity Institute’s Cleantech for Climate Change Report is Flawed- Canada Must be Grounded in Reality

Cleantech and decarbonization are the Holy Grail of investment and government subsidy hype, but practically speaking there have been numerous catastrophic failures of cleantech in recent years, both as investments and as subsidized programs. Tried and true natural resources are required to produce all clean tech products and innovations. This document – “Grounded in Reality” – examines some of the key success factors of nations like Finland, Israel, Denmark and Sweden which feature ‘cluster’ qualities touted by Harvard economist and author Michael Porter as competitive factors for economic success. This report reviews these markets and looks at some comparative factors regarding Canada’s competitiveness among nations.

LINK to report:

GROUNDED IN REALITY May 03 2017 FINAL

Prosperity Institute issued a policy brief in April 2017 entitled “Accelerating Clean Innovation in Canada.”  This document responds to that brief, rebutting and deconstructing much of the ‘cleantech’ hype with a more grounded approach.

In “Accelerating Clean Innovation in Canada”  the premise appears to be that if government would just underwrite ‘clean’ industries with subsidies, set clean energy standards (such as no emissions or low-carbon standards), put a price on carbon, engage in proactive procurement of goods to give clean industries a financial lift and market profile (i.e. buying Tesla cars for government fleets, installing fast charging stations), and establish clean tech/hi-tech ‘clusters,’ then it will follow that there will be success. Smart Prosperity claim that then Canada will “tap into a fast-growing global market expected to be worth as much as C$2.5 trillion by 2020.”

Likewise, reference is made to countries like Finland, Israel, Denmark and Sweden (FIDS) which have become world leaders in cleantech.  Friends of Science Society offers a general overview of some of the demographic, historic, cultural and contextual factors that appear to be the key drivers of the FIDS success, as a platform for discussion about the challenges Canada faces in a globally competitive environment.
Friends of Science Society argues that Smart Prosperity presents selective information without context, thus misleading the public on the actual costs and probabilities in developing a competitive clean tech cluster.

One thing is clear; no product in the world can be made without mined resources, reliable power and fossil fuels.  Fossil fuel by-products create a cascade of products and services that all people rely on everyday.  Canada has an existing Supercluster of oil/gas/oil sands/coal.  Hi-tech leaders like Samsung operate from South Korea, a country with no fossil fuels.  We buy their ‘clean-tech.’  They buy our coal. It is unlikely we can compete with them on clean-tech, though we may find and develop niche markets.

One of our findings is that all successful cleantech countries also feature busy ports with global transportation networks.  The smooth flow of goods and services is key to a country’s success. Canada’s vast distances and challenging geography and weather make this harder for all industries to succeed.  On top of that, Canadian ports and export markets for oil and gas are subject to blockades and regulatory challenges by Canadian anti-oil/LNG/tanker activists.

Contrary to Smart Prosperity’s position, replicating clean-tech success is not a matter of more government subsidizes, more regulation, more onerous standards, and more (carbon) taxes. It’s a matter of having a unified national vision and purpose, cadres of highly qualified scientists and technicians, championing entrepreneurs, and most importantly, moving goods to market. We examine some of these relevant factors in this report.

Smart Prosperity Institute issued a policy brief in April 2017 entitled “Accelerating Clean Innovation in Canada.”  This document responds to that brief, rebutting and deconstructing much of the ‘cleantech’ hype with a more grounded approach.

In “Accelerating Clean Innovation in Canada”  the premise appears to be that if government would just underwrite ‘clean’ industries with subsidies, set clean energy standards (such as no emissions or low-carbon standards), put a price on carbon, engage in proactive procurement of goods to give clean industries a financial lift and market profile (i.e. buying Tesla cars for government fleets, installing fast charging stations), and establish clean tech/hi-tech ‘clusters,’ then it will follow that there will be success. Smart Prosperity claim that then Canada will “tap into a fast-growing global market expected to be worth as much as C$2.5 trillion by 2020.”

Likewise, reference is made to countries like Finland, Israel, Denmark and Sweden (FIDS) which have become world leaders in cleantech.  Friends of Science Society offers a general overview of some of the demographic, historic, cultural and contextual factors that appear to be the key drivers of the FIDS success, as a platform for discussion about the challenges Canada faces in a globally competitive environment.
Friends of Science Society argues that Smart Prosperity presents selective information without context, thus misleading the public on the actual costs and probabilities in developing a competitive clean tech cluster.

One thing is clear; no product in the world can be made without mined resources, reliable power and fossil fuels.  Fossil fuel by-products create a cascade of products and services that all people rely on everyday.  Canada has an existing Supercluster of oil/gas/oil sands/coal.  Hi-tech leaders like Samsung operate from South Korea, a country with no fossil fuels.  We buy their ‘clean-tech.’  They buy our coal. It is unlikely we can compete with them on clean-tech, though we may find and develop niche markets.

One of our findings is that all successful cleantech countries also feature busy ports with global transportation networks.  The smooth flow of goods and services is key to a country’s success. Canada’s vast distances and challenging geography and weather make this harder for all industries to succeed.  On top of that, Canadian ports and export markets for oil and gas are subject to blockades and regulatory challenges by Canadian anti-oil/LNG/tanker activists.

Contrary to Smart Prosperity’s position, replicating clean-tech success is not a matter of more government subsidizes, more regulation, more onerous standards, and more (carbon) taxes. It’s a matter of having a unified national vision and purpose, cadres of highly qualified scientists and technicians, championing entrepreneurs, and most importantly, moving goods to market. We examine some of these relevant factors in this report.

cover grounded in reality smart prosperityGROUNDED IN REALITY May 03 2017 FINAL

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20 thoughts on “Smart Prosperity Institute’s Cleantech for Climate Change Report is Flawed- Canada Must be Grounded in Reality

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