Evaluating Canada’s ‘enviro-conomy’ shows the small details count: report
New report from TD Economics outlines trends showing the greening of Canada's economy and its influence on corporate decision makers
Chief Environment Officer
TORONTO—Lacking a standardized approach to evaluating environmental performance in relation to the economy makes it difficult to asses the incremental gains made across many industries, according to a TD Economics report.
The term “green economy” is used to describe a wide range of activities, but often excludes green initiatives being undertaken in sectors outside the green-economy umbrella, diminishes the progress that industry, government and citizens have made.
“Canadians should rethink the relationship between the environment and the economy. Rather than viewing environmental progress and economic growth as being conflicting objectives, acknowledging the progress being made on both fronts can be empowering and creates promise that even more can be achieved,” said TD’s Chief Economist, Craig Alexander.
The TD report proposes a balanced approach to measure the greening of the economy, which factors-in “consumer, corporate and policy efforts to increase operational efficiency and minimize environmental impact while fostering economic growth, diversification and competition.”
Greening consists of a four-step process common across the Canadian economy: regulatory compliance, managing operational efficiency, environmental improvements through the supply chain, and the creation of new products and services. When this process is applied to how industries are currently performing, the following trends were found:
- Environmental considerations are becoming a part of corporate decision making
- Frequent improvements to environmental efficiency result in cost advantages
- Incentives to reduce environmental impact fuel innovation
- Corporate responsibility is a driver for improving environmental performance
“Environmental considerations have become heavily entrenched in corporate Canada’s behaviour,” said Alexander. “Indeed, many businesses have recognized that more environmentally-sustainable policies and practices are not just good for their brand and reputation, but can also lead to cost savings, new products, business models and new revenue opportunities.”
Greening efforts vary between sectors, and the report notes that these sectors should not be compared to each other. Instead, benchmarks should be found and made within industries.
“Canada needs to do more on conservation, emissions, sustainability,” said Karen Clarke-Whistler, Chief Environment Officer, TD Bank Group. “But this report demonstrates that the environment is a key component of the economy. By measuring the ‘greening’ of the economy we have a means of measuring our progress.”