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Ontario needs broader approach to clean tech

Ontario needs bold new policies to encourage greener economic development if it’s to effectively compete in the world economy in the coming years, says a new report from the Ontario Environment Industry Association.


April 5, 2011
by PLANT STAFF

TORONTO: Ontario needs bold new policies to encourage greener economic development if it’s to effectively compete in the world economy in the coming years, says a new report from the Ontario Environment Industry Association (ONEIA).

The Toronto-based not-for-profit group that represents environment and clean tech companies acknowledges Ontario’s efforts to develop a greener economy, but says more needs to be done and faster.

“Our province has a real opportunity to follow a path similar to Germany, The Netherlands and China, which have become economic powerhouses by embracing the clean, green economy,” said Alex Gill, executive director of ONEIA. “Failure to keep up with them could see Ontario instead become a North American version of Argentina, which has endured decades of economic decline as its economy failed to evolve and became increasingly reliant on natural resources.”

ONEIA defines the sector as organizations or divisions of organizations based in Ontario whose primary business is the production, provision or development of products, technologies or services that are designed to produce beneficial environmental outcomes.

It says clean tech companies surveyed in its 2009 Ready to Grow report sent a clear message, echoed in its “Still Ready to Grow” report released today, that government should not focus on public policies that support specific environmental technologies, approaches or companies, but rather adopt broader policies that support all companies in the sector to respond to market needs.

Last year, the McGuinty Liberal government signed a $7 billion deal with a South Korean consortium led by Samsung C and T and the Korea Electric Power Corp. to build wind turbines and other green energy equipment in Ontario.

Ontario is allowing a feed-in-tariff guaranteeing a special rate to companies that build renewable energy projects in the province that contribute to the power grid.

“While the government-wide Open for Business program embodies the ‘winning conditions’ companies are looking for, other initiatives seem to be looking for the ‘next big thing,’” said Gill in a release. “This sends mixed signals to businesses and, depending on the programs and levels of support, may pit certain parts of the market against others.”

The report offers the following recommendations:

• Accelerate the modernization of the approvals process within the Ministry of the Environment

• Undertake a comprehensive green procurement program to support Ontario clean tech businesses.

• Support research conducted by companies to support that done in universities.

• Support an industry led bridge strategy that helps connect environment and clean tech firms with established players in the Ontario economy.

ONEIA said the world market for environmental and clean tech goods, services and technology is estimated at $780 billion annually and is growing rapidly, offering Ontario companies a significant.
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