Local Government and the Green economy

November 7, 2015

There were many insights shared at the Green Economy: Ontario conference about the opportunities for green innovation in several sectors with energy, water, transportation and big data particularly noted.

I was struck by how many themes had some interface with local governments – either directly or indirectly – and I was able to provide some examples of how local governments can serve as a platform for innovation and the deployment of green technologies – something that I promoted strongly when mayor.

The parts of the conversation that I found particularly interesting centred on what would be needed to drive consumer uptake of new technologies to promote lower carbon living.

It seems like our lives become more complicated every year – do we really have to think about how to remove carbon from them too?  Well yes, we will, but not everyone will be a geek about it.  Will we be able to bring new technologies to market that simplify our lives, increase our comfort, save us money and reduce carbon at the same time?  Like a thermostat that doesn’t need to be programmed because it thinks for you.

I suspect we will soon see a bewildering array of new provincial and federal programs aimed at increasing the energy efficiency of our homes and businesses. Could municipal platforms help to streamline opportunities for residents?  Already the announcement of such a platform in Guelph has caused concern among some seniors that it would be mandatory.  It wouldn’t – which just goes to show how easy it is to confuse and turn people off – even unintentionally – before you even get going on a new program.  Wouldn’t it be a great aspiration to design a program that removed the barriers for participation so that everyone could benefit from energy savings and feel good about leaving a brighter future for their grandchildren?