Niagara Sustainability Initiative

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Niagara Sustainability Initiative
Niagara Sustainability Initiative

            Group briefs businesses on low-carbon economy consequences

GTA Construction Report Staff writer

Niagara-area businesses were briefed on the consequences of a low-carbon economy at a  Niagara Sustainability Initiative (NSI) event on Feb. 19.

NSI, a non-profit organization originally established with funding through the Trillium Foundation and based on the Sustainable Waterloo model, works with partners and members to help make local businesses and communities more environmentally-friendly.

The speaker panel event featured three guests from diverse backgrounds, who discussed the definition of a low carbon economy (an economy based on a significant reduction in the intensity of greenhouse gases), and its regulatory, economic and social impact, program manager Katrina Kroeze says. The event was part of a regular series of events held by the organization every six weeks between September and June, which offer insights from guest speakers into specific areas of environmental sustainability.

            “Our speakers included Diane Dupont, a professor of economics at Brock University and research co-ordinator for Brock’s Environmental Sustainability Research Centre, Chris Gates, senior climate change policy advisor at the Office of the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, and Katie Altoft, vice president of advisory services for Carbonzero and a professor in Environmental Management at Niagara College,” Kroeze said.

Niagara Sustainability Initiative
Niagara Sustainability Initiative

Focusing on Ontario and the Niagara Region, Kroeze said the speakers looked at Ontario provincial policy development, including the potential for a carbon tax, and the actions taken by other provinces.

“The 40 attendees also heard about the full cost of consuming fossil fuels – both the social challenges and the impact on business,” she said.  For example, “Ontario does account for 25 per cent of Canada’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions but cheap gas prices will not last much longer.  As fuel prices rise, employers will potentially need to raise employees’ wages if they want to keep commuters working for them, or they will have to really capitalize on local talent.”

Kroeze says the event, like most hosted by NIS, attracted a mix of Chamber of Commerce, community and business representatives.

NSI released a joint report with the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce and Carbonzero on Niagara and the Low Carbon Economy, which will serve as an introduction to the risks, challenges and opportunities for the Niagara business community as the world transitions to a low-carbon economy.  (http://niagarasustainability.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Low-Carbon-Economy-FINAL-February-2013.pdf )

NSI will use Twitter (@SustainNiagara) and Facebook to continue the dialogue and communicate with individuals who could not attend the event.

            For more information, visit http://niagarasustainability.org.

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