The environmental challenges faced by China have been well documented; air pollution is visible to the naked eye, with air quality measurements often in dangerous ranges, not to mention severe desertification and water pollution issues.
Recognizing a need for action, the Chinese government set a goal of having 20 per cent of their energy created from renewable sources by 2020. That means they’ll be investing heavily in renewable energy, which open up a lot of opportunities for Canadian expertise. And while Canada has many world-class clean technology companies that can help meet China’s environmental issues, many of them just don’t know how to penetrate this very large, complex and intimidating market.
This coming on the heels of a US-China Climate Agreement where the world’s two biggest economies, and the two biggest emitters of greenhouse gas emissions, announced a deal to cut carbon emissions, reduce greenhouse gases and tackle climate change, a global boom in renewable energy is expected.
To that effect, Export Development Canada’s (EDC) Clean technology and China teams have been working with Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) and the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD) to help get more Canadian expertise into the Chinese market, the culmination of which was last October’s mission to Hong Kong and Beijing. The Hong Kong portion of the event was anchored around the IFC Climate Business Forum, an annual event that gathers business people from across the world to discuss climate-related business topics. We brought along several Canadian cleantech companies, to participate in panels and meet with some big Chinese players in the field.
This years’ event had a very Asia-Pacific focus and with EDC and CIBC as major sponsors, Canada’s presence was certainly felt. A highlight of the forum, at least for myself, was a keynote address by Dr. Tom Rand, Managing Partner from ARCTERN Ventures, (formerly the MaRS Cleantech Fund) a privately-backed venture capital fund that provides early-stage capital to companies developing breakthrough ideas in the cleantech sector. Trust me, when Rand speaks, people listen. His talk centered on why it’s difficult for people to accept climate change and what investors and civil society in general should be thinking about, a theme he covered in his book ‘Waking the Frog.’
Overall more than 100 meetings were held between Canadian and Chinese companies. The Canadian participants come away with a better understanding of the market needs and business practices. More importantly, they were able to make contact with some significant Chinese players, many of whom were previously unaware that Canada had such depth of expertise in this space.
EDC’s goal is to get more Canadian companies active in the Chinese cleantech market. So hopefully, we helped do just that.