More Countries Warm Up to Clean Tech

By Kayla Matthews

Clean technology has become a blanket term to describe various efforts to embrace renewable energy, biofuels, the development of eco-friendly consumer products, “green” buildings, sustainable agriculture and earth-friendly transport.

And many countries are ramping up their efforts, having realized that clean tech is the future.

Canada and China join forces

Although Canada’s clean-tech industry is strong compared to some other countries, news broke last year about a partnership between the Vancouver Economic Commission and a Chinese investment firm that should make the country well prepared for the future.

In addition to contributing over $4 million to the initiative, the Chinese organization will look for business opportunities in Vancouver, potentially giving the Canadian destination the chance to host Chinese entrepreneurs.

Elsewhere in Canada, the clean-tech industry is a huge economic booster. In addition to creating more than 50,000 jobs across 800 firms, clean tech is nearly a $12 billion industry.

Clean tech could particularly be useful in China, a place where the heavy smog causes people to wear masks outside and much of the groundwater is unsafe to drink. Canada has made strides in its own clean-tech efforts, so it should be a good resource and leader for China to follow.

Ireland makes some progress, but still faltering

OxyMem, a company founded by two chemists from University College Dublin, has been tapped as a standout company in the clean-tech sector. It aims to make wastewater treatment processes more efficient.

Although the clean-tech industry in Ireland is still emerging, OxyMem may offer some long-lasting momentum. More than 6,000 companies from 60 countries were nominated as outstanding, and OxyMem was shortlisted among a group of 99 other finalists for a list called the Global Cleantech 100.

Despite the good news about innovation, Ireland is not on track to meet its EU clean energy targets.

If it doesn’t reach the minimum by 2020, the country could face fines of up to 600 million euros per year. Some companies have suggested wind energy would be particularly effective in Ireland. In 2015, 24 percent of the country’s electricity was produced from a total of 201 wind farms.

Positive changes made in the United States, but more work to do

The United States ranks among the worst countries for emissions and energy consumption, but it’s also among the best in terms of clean energy. The country is known for embracing electric vehicles and renewable energies, plus it has put a great deal of investment in clean tech.

Between 2013 and 2014, investment in clean tech went up by 74 percent. Furthermore, the country has the most clean tech-related patents worldwide and is the world leader in renewable electricity generation.

According to the 2016 BDO Technology Outlook Survey, 96 percent of chief financial officers surveyed said they thought mergers and acquisitions across the tech sector this year would stay the same, if not increase, and nearly three quarters of respondents thought mergers and acquisitions would be “primarily offensive.”

Clearly, even though the United States has many bad habits to break, it’s also trying to adopt better ones that’ll contribute to a healthier planet. The progress made so far is hopeful, but it’ll have to continue on a long-term basis.

The countries mentioned here are certainly not the only ones starting or continuing to make strides in the clean tech sector, but they’re worth a closer look for their inspiring gains. Hopefully, their accomplishments will encourage other places around the world to follow suit, even if resources are scarce.

Image by Jakub Rostkowski

Kayla Matthews is a healthy living writer and blogger who writes for The Huffington Post and The Climate Group. Follow her on Facebook or at ProductivityTheory.com