One of the world’s leading experts on climate change was the keynote speaker, promoting Canada’s transition to a low-carbon economy, for the opening of the Vancouver Island Economic Alliance 2016 State of the Island Economic Summit.
The 10th annual summit opened at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre Wednesday with a focus on new technologies, a growing Island tech sector and how those new technologies could sprout new business opportunities as the Island and the country follow an expanding movement toward cleaner industries and technologies.
Emerging technologies to tackle climate change can create businesses opportunities and products that can be exported to the U.S. and China, the world’s two biggest greenhouse gas emitters, said Catherine Potvin, Canada Research Chair on Climate Change Mitigation and Tropical Forests.
Potvin said that although Canada ranks about 10th among the world’s top carbon-emitting countries, Canadians still rank in first or second place in per-capita carbon emissions.
“It’s important to realize that even if Canada is not necessarily a big emitter in terms of emissions, we have a responsibility as citizens, each one of us, to try and act and contribute a reduction in emissions,” she said.
Potvin has worked with philosophers, business people, engineers and other scientists to come up with new ways of looking at how Canada can grow a new economy from climate change. What they are looking for are ways to transition the economy forward.
One mistake she said scientists have made in delivering the message about climate change is in its negativity, which has only caused the general population to “switch off” and stop listening. Potvin sees an opportunity for marketing firms to spin a positive message about the possibilities for innovation and better lifestyles that can come from climate change mitigation efforts. She cited power generation and network innovations developed in Denmark’s Faroe Islands, which are being sold across Europe, and the T’Sou-ke First Nation on Vancouver Island, which developed a new voltage inverter for solar power generation applications.
Potvin said Canada needs to start thinking about new technological development programs on a grand scale, something currently lacking in this country, to hold export market share of new technologies, to compete on the world stage and strengthen the long-term transition to a low-carbon economy.
“What we’re trying to say is this is a great opportunity,” Potvin said. “Yes, it’s a challenge. It’s the challenge of this generation, but a challenge that hosts the opportunities for not only for improvement of the environment, but improvement in lifestyle and certainly a lot of business opportunity.”