OPINION | Canada’s Clean Tech Future Needs Chemistry Industry Solutions

Canadians and policy makers are seeking to transition to the low-carbon economy and address the challenges of climate change. Canada’s chemistry sector and its highly skilled workers are uniquely positioned to deliver the solutions.

Canada’s chemistry industry is the fourth-largest manufacturing sector in Canada, directly responsible for 87,000 jobs while supporting another 525,000. From building insulation to solar panels, the products that will help move society to a more sustainable future need chemistry. But the industry is also looking internally to reduce its ecological footprint. By implementing best-available technologies, the sector has been able to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 67 per cent since 1992.

Chemistry enables green technology

In Canada, the building sector is responsible for 40 per cent of GHG. Chemistry products such as insulation, window coatings, reflective roofing and other innovative chemistry-based materials dramatically lower these emissions by reducing heat loss and the demand for cooling.

Reducing GHG in transportation also provides opportunity for innovation. Lighter vehicles, alternative fuels and moving to electric vehicles will depend on advances in materials, fuel and energy storage developed through chemistry.

Chemistry is also a critical part of nearly every renewable power generation source. From the composite materials in wind turbine blades, to solar panels and batteries, chemistry is essential.

Canada’s chemistry sector is moving us to a low carbon future

Canada’s abundant, low-carbon resources, such as natural gas and natural gas liquids, hydroelectricity and biomass, enable chemistry products that are 80 per cent less GHG-intensive than those from some European or Asian markets, which rely on higher-carbon feedstocks such as crude oil or coal.

The Canadian chemistry sector is doing even more to reduce its ecological footprint by implementing green technology at its facilities. Canada’s modern and highly innovative chemistry facilities include continuously upgraded equipment, re-engineered processes and products, and one of the lowest GHG-intensive national electricity grids.

We can do more

With the right policies and support from government, the chemistry sector could attract $25 billion in new investments by 2025. The positive impact of this new investment will not only spur economic growth and drive innovation — it will leverage the already considerable contribution that the Canadian chemistry sector makes in meeting rapidly growing global market demand for chemicals with the lowest carbon production available.

Read more in our report Chemistry: Essential to Canada’s Transition to a Low-Carbon Energy Future at canadianchemistry.ca

Shannon Watt is the Director of Environment and Health Policy at the Chemistry Industry Association of Canada (CIAC).

Contributed to the Sixth Estate – The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Sixth Estate.

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