Copenhagen & entrepreneurs: Talking versus doing

As the rhetoric at Copenhagen heats up, all of us in the cleantech space hope for some clear breakthroughs: meaningful and binding targets, funding support for the developing world to adopt clean technologies (which rich countries sell, by the way, so it’s not exactly charity), clear price signals on carbon emissions, an acknowledgment that the political targets should match the scientific reality and so on. Those macroeconomic conditions will pave the way for the third industrial revolution – a low carbon economy (the first two having been based on coal and oil).

But in the meantime, cleantech entrepreneurs around the world are simply getting on with the job – they innovate and try to bring economic value to technologies that help us live in a sustainable manner.  MaRS is home to many of those entrepreneurs:

  • Jason Kotler of NIMTech is trying to make factories smarter
  • Paul Bottero has technology that can suck more energy out of a wind turbine
  • Kamal Hassan of Skymeter has smart meters for cars which, once installed, could immediately lower a city’s carbon emissions by an eighth
  • Hybrid Energy Technologies are making a new battery that can power the next generation of cars
  • Brad DeForge at Reflective Solar is installing a new concentrated solar technology designed for northern climates

All of these folks are swimming upstream – until carbon is priced, their technology is undervalued.

My own work – aside from helping these entrepreneurs – includes building North America’s greenest hotel. I’ve been arguing that lowering carbon output in buildings is a no-brainer. See my four-minute TEDxTO talk here

We can lower carbon, build a cleantech economy, create local jobs and make money all at the same time. But that’s just the lowest-hanging fruit. There’s a lot more work to do.

An agreement in Copenhagen would move all of this work forward. It would create an economic environment that cleantech entrepreneurs deserve: one that acknowledges that cleantech is not a luxury, it’s a necessity.