Annual Survey of Environmental Goods and Services, 2020
Canadian businesses sold $19.5 billion worth of environmental and clean technology goods in 2020, while sales of related services accounted for $11.1 billion.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging for the manufacturing sector and was likely the cause of declines in revenues across most areas in this sector in Canada. The clean technology sector remained stable, with a 3.3% increase in domestic and export sales of goods and a 9.5% rise in domestic and export sales of services.
Several subsectors contributed to the $616 million increase in revenues from domestic and export sales of environmental and clean technology goods in Canada in 2020. They include clean energy equipment; industrial wastewater and municipal sewage treatment technologies; and bioenergy production equipment and biofuel, biomaterial and biochemical production. Decreases were noted in 7 of the 12 subsectors.
Clean energy equipment and energy efficiency technologies and services remain essential during the first year of the pandemic
Nationally, revenues from sales of energy efficiency technologies accounted for 28.5% ($5.6 billion) of the total domestic and export sales of environmental and clean technology goods. Products in this category include high-efficiency industrial, commercial and residential heating, ventilation and cooling equipment, which was in higher demand during the pandemic. Sales of energy efficiency services, such as sustainable and energy efficiency consulting, were $2.6 billion in 2020. In Ontario, sales of energy efficiency technologies accounted for one-quarter ($2.2 billion) of the province's total sales of environmental and clean technology goods ($8.3 billion).
In 2020, sales of clean energy equipment totalled $2.4 billion, up 34.9% from $1.8 billion in 2019. Clean energy equipment supports, for example, wind, solar and hydro power generation, and nuclear energy projects. Sales of clean energy services, such as the design, installation and maintenance of these clean energy projects, increased 22.3% to $3.0 billion in 2020.
Transportation technology exports fall because of lower demand
Although the broader transportation equipment manufacturing sector was impacted by the pandemic, manufacturers and wholesalers of clean transportation technologies, such as fuel-efficient automotive and aerospace equipment, reported sales similar to pre-pandemic levels. In 2020, domestic and export sales reached $4.4 billion, down less than 1% (-0.9%) from the previous year.
Transportation technology exports represented 42.6% of the total clean technology goods and services exported from Canada ($7.1 billion). In 2020, fuel-efficient automotive and aerospace equipment exports stood at $3.0 billion, down 13.0% from $3.5 billion in 2019. Export sales in Quebec declined by 40.7% in 2020. This may have been the result of global travel restrictions and lower demand for exports of aircraft and other transportation equipment and parts.
Fuelling up on renewables
Domestic and export sales of bioenergy production equipment (biofuel reactors) and biofuels, biomaterials and biochemicals reached almost $2.2 billion in 2020, up 11.1% from approximately $2.0 billion in 2019. The production in cubic metres of renewable fuels (except fuel ethanol) has also been steady throughout the pandemic.
Domestic sales of sustainable resource services increasing in most provinces
Sales of sustainable resource services, such as precision agriculture, bioproduct and sustainable forestry services, increased in Quebec (to $297 million), Ontario (to $112 million), Saskatchewan and Manitoba combined (to $83 million), and the Atlantic provinces (to $64 million). British Columbia reported a 38.9% decrease in domestic sales of sustainable resource services in 2020, while revenues from logging activities in British Columbia declined $930.7 million (-17.8%).
Sales by province
As previously noted, Ontario businesses sold almost $8.3 billion worth of environmental and clean technology goods in 2020, the most of any province. Quebec was second, at $5.3 billion in sales. Together, these two provinces accounted for 70% of all environmental and clean technology goods sold in 2020.
Saskatchewan and Manitoba combined ($2.0 billion), British Columbia ($1.9 billion), and Alberta ($1.3 billion) followed in terms of total revenues from sales of environmental and clean technology goods.
Exports to the United States dip as exports to other international markets rise
Exports of environmental and clean technology goods and services fell 4.0% to just over $7.0 billion in 2020, led by a $381 million (-7.9%) decrease in exports destined to the United States. The United States accounts for almost two-thirds ($4.5 billion) of total clean technology goods and services exported from Canada. Exports to other international markets were up 3.5% in 2020 to $2.6 billion.
Together, Ontario ($3.2 billion) and Quebec ($2.1 billion) businesses exported $5.3 billion worth of environmental and clean technology goods and services in 2020. This accounted for nearly three-quarters (74.6%) of all Canadian exports in this sector.
Employment in the environmental and clean technology sector
In 2020, environmental and clean technology industries provided employment for over 95,000 people across Canada, up 4.4% from 91,000 in 2019. The pandemic had a major impact on businesses across the country, including in the clean technology sector. About half of the provinces and territories reported decreases in the number of environmental employees, with the exception of Quebec (+21.2%), Saskatchewan and Manitoba combined (+7.7%) and the Atlantic provinces (+5.0%).
Note to readers
These data are derived from the Survey of Environmental Goods and Services (SEGS).
The 2020 SEGS provides an expanded picture from previous reference years of the clean technology sector in Canada, as a result of broader content and target industries. The more comprehensive estimates produced in 2020 build upon previous cycles and are part of a plan to produce and improve data supporting and profiling Canada's clean technology sector.
Clean technologies are defined as follows:
- any good or service designed with the primary purpose of contributing to remediating or preventing any type of environmental damage
- any good or service that is less polluting or more resource-efficient than equivalent normal products that furnish a similar utility; their primary use, however, is not one of environmental protection.
The survey captures revenues from several areas of Canada's growing clean technology sector. Comprehensive measurement of clean technology sales in Canada's economy is available through Statistics Canada's Environmental and Clean Technology Products Economic Account (ECTPEA). The Survey of Environmental Goods and Services is one of several components of this account. The ECTPEA captures all economy-wide transactions in the clean technology sector, such as clean energy and scrap metals, while the Survey of Environmental Goods and Services produces data on a clearly specified subset of goods and services that are narrower in scope than those captured in the ECTPEA.
As of the 2020 reference year, this release will no longer incorporate metrics from the Waste Management Survey, which was previously used to provide estimates of waste management services and related employment. For the purpose of this analysis, references to 2019 estimates that previously included these combined metrics have been modified in this article. Furthermore, estimates from the Waste Management Survey will no longer be included alongside the aggregates from the Survey of Environmental Goods and Services in the public tables. Information relating to the collection of waste management statistics can be found at Biennial Waste Management Survey.
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