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Sustainability ‘at a Tipping Point’ in Canada

Canadian businesses and policymakers are reaching a decisive point in their relationship with the green economy and the accountancy profession will play critical role in ensuring the outcome won’t harm the country’s future generations or the natural resources on which it depends, according to a report from the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants.

The “Canada and the Green Economy” report explores how the country might contribute to a green economy, where its strengths and weaknesses may lie, and what Canadian business and the accountancy profession can do to facilitate the transition. The report also compares Canada to other nations, including government support for environmental projects. (see graphic)

The report draws on information from experts at two green economy roundtable events held in Toronto and Vancouver this year. The ACCA surveyed delegates at the roundtable events and found government policy was cited by 50 percent of respondents as the most important driver of the green economy, followed by consumer demand (46 percent), new market opportunities (36 percent and pressure from investors (32 percent).

Some 46 percent of delegates surveyed said the adaptation and transition from existing business models is the most critical challenge posed by the green economy for business in the next five to 10 years. Clarity about global and national frameworks and targets was chosen by 35 percent of those surveyed, followed by consumer engagement (31 percent) and access to investment (29 percent).

The report includes case studies on the following companies:

  • Walmart: The retailer’s Balzac refrigerated food distribution center near Calgary is one of the greenest commercial buildings in the country, ACCA says;
  • Better Place: The electric vehicle infrastructure company’s Ontario pilot is helping bring sustainable travel to Canada through an integrated approach to EVs, batteries, financing and charging infrastructure;
  • Loblaw: The case study examines the company’s sustainable fish procurement and retailing and how it has expanded the use of sustainability certification across different species of seafood;
  • Domtar: The study outlines the company’s efforts to ensure the sustainability credentials of its products through its paper trail online tool;
  • Vancity: The company supports its customers’ sustainability choices through auto loans, home improvement loans and business financing that favor greener options.

A report released last month by the ACCA, KPMG and Fauna & Flora International found nearly half of accountant identify natural capital – the stock of capital derived from natural resources such as biological diversity, ecosystems and the services they provide – as a material issue for their businesses, but the majority are reporting little or no information on the issue.

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