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Opinion

Intersection of climate change and innovation a natural home for government policy

By Sara Hastings-Simon      

Good innovation policy isn’t easy, but the economic and environmental challenges we face demand action, and lessons from recent experience can guide the way for a government ready to lead.

In Canada, one instructive example of innovation policy can be found in the development of in-situ production technology for Alberta’s oil sands—a clear case of government innovation responsible for industry development with significant purely government funded innovation. Although the industry’s carbon footprint presents new challenges in the 21st century, the lessons about government’s role in markets are highly relevant when considering approaches to address climate change today. The Hill Times photograph by Jake Wright

There is an increasing recognition of the critical role government plays in creating new industries through direct support for innovation: government has and needs to continue to “pick winners.” The challenges presented by “carbon lock-in,” the complex interdependent technological networks, institutions and cultural practices that make a transition away from a high carbon system more challenging amplifies the need for significant government involvement in achieving a low carbon future. This makes the intersection of climate change and innovation a natural home for government policy.

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