Editorial: Island can lead on clean tech

The transition to cleaner technology is coming one way or another

The transition to cleaner technology is coming one way or another. But it could sure use a nudge in leadership and further incentives for clean energy development.

There was significant discussion about the subject at last week’s State of the Island Economic Summit at Nanaimo’s Vancouver Island Conference Centre.

A panel discussed various approaches and highlighted certain projects during a session called Vancouver Island Clean Tech: A Homegrown Industry Poised for Growth, and the Vancouver Island Economic Association indicated it’s prepared to put together a working group to support development of clean tech. The discussion had some overlapping themes with another talk called Renewable Energy? The Future is Here.

Summit panelists and delegates called for more vision, leadership, and co-ordination, but it’s a difficult proposition because any clean tech project has to make business sense and companies have to make their individual determinations of what might work and where.

Premier John Horgan addressed summit delegates via video link and the very first question he was asked was about economic development in a carbon-constrained economy. His New Democratic Party had a ‘Power B.C.’ plan as a prominent part of its campaign platform, promising investment in energy retrofits in public and private buildings. The premier suggested British Columbia has a competitive advantage over some other provinces in Canada, as our long-standing carbon tax has given us a head start in implementing the $50-per-tonne carbon pricing that has been federally mandated.

“We’re already two-thirds of the way there,” Horgan said. “So the impact on our trade-sensitive industries will be less than it would be on other jurisdictions in Canada and that gives us a leg up.”

As we seek to be leaders in addressing climate change, various government policies and priorities will need to keep nudging us in the right direction. We’ll be dragged in that direction one way or another, so we might as well embrace it.