Our carbon opportunity

One of the side benefits of Australia’s early move towards putting a price on carbon should be the emergence of a new band of entrepreneurs emerging in the clean tech space.

The carbon tax might be weeks away, but Australia’s performance so far has been somewhat lacklustre. A report by the World Wildlife Fund released earlier this month rated Australia 26th out of 40 countries when it comes to clean tech manufacturing, based on sales from our industry in 2011.

But the opportunity here is huge. The report states that by 2015, the global clean tech sector is expected to be close to the size of the market for equipment for the oil and gas sector at between $300 billion and $370 billion.

Imagine what a slice of that could do for our struggling manufacturing sector.

Our ranking might be low currently, but the SME sector is well-placed to give it a boost.

A report by the Australian Business Foundation has examined how SME will move towards a low-carbon economy and suggests there are huge opportunities around new products and services, new marketing methods, new operational tactics and new management processes.

The report (which can be read here) has found 12 case studies of SMEs changing their business. In most cases, they aren’t clean tech companies, so the innovations are described as incremental rather than radical.

But there are big jumps to be made in the clean tech space too. Australia is going to be a leader in putting a price on carbon, so we must emerge as a leader in this crucial sector.

Finally, I wanted to acknowledge the feedback we received on yesterday’s story on Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s push to get business to talk up the economy. We appreciate all our reader’s comments and we certainly take them on board.

SmartCompany is dedicated to celebrating great entrepreneurs and extracting the important lessons and information SMEs need. But we are also dedicated to bringing you the key trends from the economy that will impact your business.

As we’ve been saying for some time, Australia’s economic fundamentals are strong, as shown by low unemployment and mining-driven GDP growth. But we cannot ignore the other signs from the economy, such as leading indicators like consumer and business confidence, trading conditions and results from the listed company sector, and the turmoil in overseas economies.

We’ll keep trying to distil these indicators for you so you can judge how your environment is changing. And we’ll continue to find and celebrate our great entrepreneurs, and emerging ones coming through in sectors as diverse as clean tech through to communications.

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