Source: Winnipeg Free Press
Reporter: Martin Cash
With the pandemic causing an existential threat to the future of so many businesses, many small and medium-sized business owners may have put their own projects to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions on the back burner.
And since commercial enterprise around the world has been a couple of beats slower for the past year — factories operating at reduced capacity, airline traffic down by as much as 90 per cent and automobiles left in the garage — concerns about the carbon footprint may not have seemed so pre-eminent.
But a new report this week from the International Energy Agency, an intergovernmental group based in Paris, said worldwide energy-related carbon dioxide emissions could surge by 1.5 billion tonnes this year, following last year’s decline due to the pandemic.
For this year’s Earth Day on Thursday, World Trade Centre Winnipeg is collaborating with its sister organization in St. Louis, Mo., to host a free online conference called Re-Engage in Trade: Climate Change & Implications for International Trade (April 22, 12 p.m. CT, on Zoom: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_2cDqds7cRtqwYPDsIJp2qw).
For some, having an excuse to let their climate change initiatives lapse has a lot to do with the fact they are often challenging and costly undertakings.
But Mariette Mulaire, the CEO of World Trade Centre Winnipeg, said companies are going to need to be ready to answer the question — what are you doing to fight climate change?
“More and more people are asking things like ‘How green is your supply chain? Is your product coming from recyclable material, and can it be recycled at its end use? Have you switched some or all of fossil fuel energy to electric, solar or wind,’” she said. “Business needs to be prepared for this.”
Mulaire, who is also vice-chairwoman of the board of directors of the World Trade Centers Association, the only Canadian on the 19-person international board, said it is a competitive issue that gives business people the chance to say “look at what we are doing.”
Because it is a global issue, business owners can expect that is something that is on the agenda of their suppliers and their customers and not just millennials, who may be more vocal about patronizing local economies or interested in tracing the food they buy at the grocery store or restaurant.
While some of the answers and solutions are complicated and take time to implement, the World Trade Centre Winnipeg has created a quick-start guide of Eight Earth Day Tips to put in place now.
1. Get informed about government agencies and programs that provide financial support to help you reduce your energy use and save money. In Manitoba, Efficiency Manitoba is a great first stop.
2. Talk to suppliers, including financial institutions, about what they are doing for climate change. Do they invest in clean and renewable energy?
3. Pay more attention to the internal physical plant. Turn lights off, install LED bulbs that consume 75 per cent less energy, unplug “energy vampires” like computers and other electronic devices that keep sucking up energy overnight when they’re not in use.
4. Prepare for the possibility of extreme weather events and have a plan when the effects of climate change actually hit.
5. Start the conversation in-house about how climate change affects your business and include younger team members to whom these issues are more than just rhetoric.
6. Rethink the legacy travel habits of your company. The pandemic has shown that most of us can reduce our travel and still get work done. Group your travel chores to reduce use of carbon fuels and emissions.
7. Start incorporating some of the things people do at home — like composting, planting trees at work, turning grass over to a community garden — at work.
8. Start asking your business partners and suppliers what they are doing to reduce their carbon footprint. Even having the conversation can produce a domino effect.