Growing up on a farm taught me to see the world as a treasure – a gift to be treated with great care and respect. It was there that I learned to appreciate the fragile quality in the beauty of nature. And it was there that I first looked at a drop of dew on a blade of grass, and listened for the individual voice of a cricket on a hot summer night.
Over the years my concern for the environment has grown stronger. My last few editorials on global warming have generated numerous letters from both the left and the right. The left felt I needed to be more extreme in stating there was an actual crisis. While Conservatives didn’t feel that I spoke enough about the economy and the issue we now face in trying to meet the Kyoto targets. But the issue is more complex than simply stating that the Liberals procrastinated for so long that reaching Kyoto targets is impossible.
Energy is a cost and businesses know this. When the price of energy went up, companies looked at becoming more efficient. Consumption has gone down but there is still a lot of room for improvement.
The true issue at hand is leadership. If Steven Harper is serious about the environment than he has to do more then just complain about the previous government. He’s had over a year to work on this. He needs to turn the environment issue away from focusing on impossible targets and create attainable ones. Any good business leader knows that without targets no-thing gets done. But when it comes to the environment, lea-dership has to come from all sectors.
Harper is not a fool; he knows the same business leaders I do and they aren’t evil, scheming, men wanting to destroy the world. Many of them care very much about the environment. The most important thing that the business leaders I’ve spoken with want is action – they want policies designed to address the environment, policies that create a level playing field in their industries.
The second issue around the climate crisis is strategic, it involves risk analysis. What is the best means to reduce emissions? Will legislation to reduce emissions actually be as effective dollar for dollar as investing in energy efficiency? This is where I believe the business community needs to take the lead; this is where trial and error will happen. When it comes to change, government always lags behind and business always seems to take the lead. Take the example of Dofasco – not only have they cleaned up their emissions, but they have exceeded Kyoto targets.
The Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE) has formed a group of lead a task force to achieve a national consensus on the reduction of greenhouse gases. This may be the quickest route to at least trying to meet some of our Kyoto commitments.