I am a pragmatist first. Canada can balance the budget, grow the economy, and take action on climate change. It is up to you and me to show them that we have the will.
Planning for a more sustainable future doesn’t mean weakening our economy - but not planning does.
It will take real leadership to create better jobs, make life more affordable, build resilient infrastructure, and transition the economy.
What should Canada do?
Canada should be:
Taking care of its citizens in the present.
Planning for the next 15+ years - not just the next election.
Canada should begin:
Diverting subsidies away from fossil fuels - which currently draw 3 billion tax dollars per year.
Canada should create millions of jobs by:
Greening the energy grid.
Way back when
It is well over a decade ago now that I was on the verge of finishing a business degree at Laurier.
As graduation approached, I was filled with a sense of optimism - for how businesses could be part of the solution to the climate crisis - and frustrated with a lack of political action.
So what did I do?
Some friends and I got to work. We wrote a business plan and brought a big dream to life. Our community rallied around the idea and Sustainable Waterloo Region (SWR) was founded.
Within 5 years, SWR was buzzing - almost 15% of the workforce in Waterloo Region was employed by companies voluntarily taking action on reducing their ecological footprint. These organizations were saving money, as well as growing the low carbon economy.
Fast forward ten years
Although I remain frustrated with the lack of sufficient political action on the climate crisis, I am optimistic that the path forward is one that can strengthen our economy.
I’ve seen it time and again with so many businesses across the country - they have created a competitive advantage by taking action on climate change.
For example, accounting firms like EY Canada were not only able to differentiate Waterloo Region as an up and coming place, but used their work with SWR to demonstrate their own sustainability strategy. This helped EY attract and retain the best talent, offering bigger purpose to their employees.
Manufacturers like VeriForm were able to double their profit margin while cutting their emissions in half, simply by adopting sustainable operating practices
Through voluntary actions, businesses and organizations can reduce their carbon impact and save money. However, these pockets of change are too small. There needs to be decisive action, driven by government, and supported by industry, that prepares our economy for the changing times.