What I learned in Detroit

Fri, 05/18/2012 - 11:28 -- Anonymous (not verified)

Last week, a few of us went to the Good Jobs Green Jobs conference of the BlueGreen Alliance in Detroit. I wanted to share some of the things I learned while there.

Similar to Blue Green Canada, BGA unites 12 of America’s largest unions and environmental organizations. Acting together, through 14 million members and supporters, they are a powerful voice. They were the inspiration for Blue Green Canada, and they are our allies in building a cleaner, fairer and more competitive North American economy.

We went to the conference to present some of the work we have been doing here in Canada and to learn about initiatives underway in the U.S. I wanted to share some of the things I learned while there:

  • The USA is out-investing China in green energy technology.
  • The new 55 MPG fuel efficiency standard is driving U.S. automakers to shoot for global markets, not just North American sales.
  • There is now sufficient manufacturing capacity in the USA to build 100% of a wind turbine. For years the European and Asian industry leaders were reluctant to locate the high tech manufacturing of generators and other sophisticated components in North America. Now there is a growing capacity for manufacture of full wind turbine systems in the USA.
  • American policy makers are making serious efforts and significant investments to ensure that the USA is a global leader in new energy technology.
  • There is a growing “Buy American” movement focusing on renewable energy manufacturing and other clean tech.
  • Cleveland Ohio is planning to produce the first off shore wind power system in North America. This project is only 5 towers off shore from the Cleveland Browns’ Stadium. Cleveland is pursuing the project to position Ohio and other US communities to serve the massive market for offshore wind development in other Great Lakes and, via the St Lawrence Seaway, the eastern coast of North America, expected in the years to come.

In short, they are doing a lot more there than we are here.

It’s plain to see that the green economy is the future and in the US, they get it. They know that their manufacturing sector is vital to their economy. And they know that clean energy and other green industries are their best bet if they hope to maintain their manufacturing expertise and stay at the leading edge of innovation.

And it's not just the U.S.-- nearly every leading economy is pursuing the green economy in recognition of the massive opportunity it presents.

As I listened to the speakers in Detroit, I kept thinking one thing: Canada needs to step up its game. To paraphrase Wayne Gretzky, if you wish to lead, you don’t go to where the puck is, but to where it will be. Sage words from the great one.