In the Chamber -- Grant Mitchell's Blog

Globe 2010 Conference

Posted 4/6/2010 by Grant Mitchell

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I spent three days last week attending the Globe 2010 Conference in Vancouver. This is a conference held once every two years in Vancouver to focus on the business opportunities and issues arising from environmental issues and constraints. Needless to say the overwhelming focus this time was on business and climate change.

For anyone who firmly accepts the science of climate change, which is truly irrefutable, there was much to be inspired and encouraged by.

There was no debate amongst panellists, including very senior leaders in very big companies, about the science of climate change.  They accept it, know that most of the governments of the world accept it, and know that they have to do something about their contributions to it. Not addressing it will have huge implications for their markets.

Business is already doing a great deal without any federal leadership. There was a trade fair floor filled with realized and commercial ideas for controlling GHG’s. There were electric cars, one made in Canada (BC), water purification systems, and any number of practical everyday products that have a low carbon footprint.

It was so evident that British Columbia is way ahead of the curve in reducing their carbon footprint and in leveraging green technology to create economic growth in that province. I had a chance to chat with Premier Campbell and congratulated him on tremendous accomplishments. He has declared that the BC government will have a zero carbon footprint this year. That will take offsets and credits. To this end Mr. Campbell has set up a crown corporation to work with the private sector to generate credits and offsets. This means that there will be real reductions in GHGs and businesses and farmers will make money. BC Hydro has recently finished creating a smart grid for its electricity system and has a state of the art control system to manage it and make it hyper efficient. Vancouver has declared the objective of being the greenest city in the world and they have the policies to back it up.

I should also mention that Senator Richard Neufeld, a member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Environment, was the Minister of Energy and Mines in BC for eight years and was instrumental in the great progress that BC has had in its climate change initiative.

While all of this is encouraging, the problem is that it is not enough. One business leader even said that we have time on our side. This contradicts the scientific consensus on climate change. We are at a critical climate tipping point and we have to meet this challenge head on and urgently. Many business leaders are demanding federal leadership so that they can proceed in a circumstance of some certainty.  There is so much economic opportunity if we can develop the kinds of technologies that the rest of the world will be demanding to meet the climate change challenges. What is it that keeps this government from acting decisively?

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