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A Clean Growth Bonanza, Hidden In Plain Sight

At Climate Smart, we’ve always known that you don’t have to be big to make a big difference. For the better part of a decade we’ve helped companies with fewer than 500 employees profitably reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. We’ve also equipped cities, ports, airports and financial institutions with tools to help them more effectively engage with their partners on carbon.

We’ve found that the businesses we have worked with have shrunk their carbon footprint on average 11%, while cutting costs $27,000 per year. But last year we asked ourselves two questions:

What do these small and medium-sized companies contribute to Canada’s economy?

And what is the size of the national clean growth opportunity they represent?

With support from Environment and Climate Change Canada, we crunched data from our work over the past decade to find out. And the results astonished us.

An Economic Powerhouse

First, small and medium sized businesses make a significant contribution to Canada’s economy. Taken together, companies with fewer than 500 employees comprise…


…99.7% of all Canadian businesses and more than half of Canada’s private-sector GDP. They also invest close to half (45%) of all Canadian private-sector research and development spending.

These companies may be small, but taken together, they are an economic powerhouse. They’re also a potential clean-growth powerhouse.

Canada’s 200 Million Tonne Opportunity

It turns out that across the country small- and medium-sized businesses have direct control over 200 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. That’s in their operations—the electricity they consume, the fuel they purchase, the natural gas the use, and the waste they generate.

To put that number into context, that is:

The same amount of carbon produced each year by every car, truck, train, plane, and ship in the country.

About the same quantity of carbon that Canada needs to cut in order to meet its Paris Agreement commitment.

That is why this is a 200 Million Tonne Opportunity. And it’s hidden in plain sight.

A Symphony of Actions

Across Canada, hundreds printers, tour operators, shippers, roofers, retailers, and others are already profitably reducing their carbon footprints and driving clean innovation and clean growth.

And our new report 200 Million Tonnes of Opportunity shares 10 years of detailed data of who, how, why and where they are doing this.

They are upgrading their fleets, electrifying equipment, optimizing delivery routes, engaging with employees, reducing waste, and more. These leaders are unleashing a flood of changes, from clean innovations to practical, pragmatic adjustments.

200 Million Tonnes scores this ‘symphony of actions’ for the first time. It shows how, why, and where Canada’s small and mid-sized businesses are reducing greenhouse gas emissions and driving clean growth—and what the national potential is.

It identifies trends and shares lessons gleaned from businesses that are successfully driving down emissions within the industry sectors that have the highest SME participation.

And it’s getting noticed. David Miller North American Regional Director and Global Ambassador for Inclusive Climate Action, C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, calls it “a must read for elected officials and their planning and sustainability teams.”

Jump over to 200million.ca to get your own copy of our report 200 Million Tonnes of Opportunity: How small and medium-sized businesses are driving Canadian clean growth. You can also explore our Tableau Dashboard profile of Canada’s SME landscape. You’ll also be the first to learn about our upcoming webinar where we will drill down into our findings.

As Canada works to meet its climate commitments under the Paris Agreement, it’s exciting that thousands of private-sector climate champions already taking the lead.

While that is great, the evidence is encouraging, and the larger potential is massive. We have a big challenge with our climate target, and we think the best way to face it is to provide good data and celebrate and highlight the work that is already under way, and scale up this effort to meet the opportunity.

Posted by Gen Tardif on

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