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This article was published 21/4/2017 (1083 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
With the likelihood of a carbon tax looming in Manitoba, Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce members received a high-end pep rally of sorts on Thursday, focusing on how businesses can reduce their carbon footprint without sacrificing growth or job creation.
Elizabeth Sheehan, president of 10-year-old Vancouver-based social enterprise Climate Smart, spoke encouragingly to a large chamber lunch crowd about the many strategies small- and medium-sized businesses can deploy to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and still grow their profits and create jobs.
Climate Smart has won international awards for its programs that help businesses measure and reduce their carbon footprint while cutting costs.
Sheehan said Climate Smart has helped hundreds of companies throughout the process, capturing on average $27,000 in annual savings along with a 2.7 per cent increase in employment.
She said a sample group of 70 of those companies saved a total of $2.7 million and made a cut back on the volume of emissions equivalent to taking 3,500 cars off the road.
"If these findings come as a surprise, don’t blame yourself," she said. "For years, we’ve been told that the solutions to climate change are too expensive. We’ve heard that action on climate will hurt growth and cripple Canada’s economy. Some of you in the audience may still believe that. But it’s a myth."
Recent research by Environics shows that nearly three in five Manitobans are in favour of a provincial carbon tax.
However, only about one in 10 strongly support it.
Despite the rhetoric from deniers, scientists say that if global warming continues — mostly caused by the burning of fossil fuels — and the average global temperature increases by more than two degrees, "severe, pervasive and irreversible" impacts will occur.
Sheehan noted that Manitoba is already experiencing longer, drier summers and that last year, the province generated the most severe weather events — with more occasions of severe hail, rain and wind — in the Prairies, according to Environment Canada.
"We know that these impacts affect quality of life, public health and economic stability here, across the country and around the world," she said.
Climate Smart has produced many case studies of small businesses — a group that, collectively, produces about 30 per cent of the greenhouse gas emissions in Canada — that, by adding insulation, retrofitting vehicle fleets, deploying software that increase efficiencies and reducing the use of fossil fuel-burning vehicles, have reduced their emissions in a measurable way.
The organization has been collecting data for close to a decade and has now developed a tool it calls the Business Energies and Emissions Profile (BEEP).
It can target regions and industries to reduce emissions with the greatest effect.
Martin Cash has been writing a column and business news at the Free Press since 1989. Over those years he’s written through a number of business cycles and the rise and fall (and rise) in fortunes of many local businesses.
Updated on Friday, April 21, 2017 at 7:38 AM CDT: Adds photo