LASER TALK: Canada’s Clean Technology Industry (Updated February 2016)

Canada’s clean tech industry is made up of 700 small to medium- sized enterprises with most generating less than $50 million in revenue. But taken together, Canada’s clean technology industry contributes $10.6 billion to the Canadian economy and invests $1 billion a year in research and development.  The industry employs 52,600 Canadians, comparable to the oil and gas sector. A full 82 percent of these companies exporting to foreign markets. This is important because Canadian growth in GDP now depends on export sales (1).

Clean technology is a highly resilient industry.  This was shown during the height of the recession when its revenues increased 23 percent (1). It offered job opportunities to many Canadians at a time when many industries were laying off workers.

Renewable energy is often what comes to mind when we think of clean technology, but the industry is more than that. It also covers transportation, manufacturing, agriculture, water and waste water management.

Globally, clean technology represents a mult-trillion dollar opportunity (2).

Clean technology is starting to transform how major global players are doing business. Japan, China, Germany and now South Korea are integrating their clean technology industries with other sectors. They view research and development, domestic technology adoption, international development and export competitiveness as tightly woven strands. As a result, they are growing their economies and generating quality jobs for their citizens.

By adopting similar measures, Canada will not only increase its productivity and global competitiveness, it will reduce its carbon footprint, giving sectors such as oil and gas the social license to operate in the eyes of its global partners.

Canada’s oil and gas sector makes up 6 percent of the country’s GDP. If it were to disappear overnight, the hit to the Canadian economy would be profound. Canada needs to wean itself off of oil and gas. Clean technology offers tremendous potential to help with that process, by helping Canada transition to a clean energy economy while reducing the environmental footprint of oil and gas as much as possible.

It could join other countries in positioning its clean technology industry in this global market. By doing so, its clean technology sector could potentially grow to a $62 billion industry by 2020, according to Analytic Advisors (1).

Another way to help drive this industry is to implement a revenue neutral price on carbon, as was done in BC. After introducing the carbon tax in 2008, B.C. is undergoing a clean tech growth spurt. More than 200 clean technology companies operate in B.C. alone, employing 8,400 British Columbians and generating $2.5 billion in sales in 2011, a 48 percent increase between 2008 and 2010.

UPDATE November 2015: Canada’s  tech industry has grown to $12 billion per year. Unfortunately Canada has lost 41% of its market share since 2008.

clean tech


(1) 2013 Canadian Clean Technology Industry Report by Analytica Advisors.

(2)  Business and Investors Pioneering the Green Economy Highlight Multi-trillion  Dollar Opportunity Tackling Climate Change by Carbon Tracker

(3) 2015 Canadian Clean Technology Industry Report by Analytica Advisors



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