In the course of the last Ontario Provincial Election, Laurie Simmonds, a respected environmentalist and the President and CEO of Green Living Enterprises, asked this question:
Is the green economy important to Ontario’s future?
Her answer was unequivocally yes.
She referred to an article in a recent Harvard Business Review that argued persuasively “sustainability is an emerging business megatrend, like electrification and mass production, that will profoundly affect companies’ competitiveness and even their survival.” Businesses in the past that ignored those megatrends failed.
Statistics from G-20 countries indicated a take-off of investment in renewable energy. Despite difficult economic times, clean energy finance and investment in the G-20 countries totaled almost $200 billion in 2010, up a third from the year before.
She recognized a trend amongst Ontario business owners who had invested their hard-earned cash in green ventures, hoping to position themselves to take advantage of this megatrend.
She summarized the developments that had taken place in skills developments over the previous 5 years. Ontario colleges had offered numerous new environmental science and technology programs, with 35 new diploma or certificate programs launched in the past three years — 14 new ones in the last year.
Which party offered Ontario voters the best opportunity for Ontario to take advantage of this sustainability megatrend?
The Conservatives? Certainly not: they derided green investment at every turn, promised to end feed-in tariffs for green energy and to repeal the Green Energy Act.
The NDP? No, they intended to restrict the flow of private sector funding just as investors are finally acknowledging the opportunities in this field.
In her view, only the Liberals had a plan that would position Ontario to become a North American leader in the development of a green economy. She invited readers to read the reviews of Pembina Institute Institute and GreenProsperity.ca that analyzed the party platforms from an environmental point of view.
We know that this and similar appeals did not persuade Ontario Voters. The Liberals lost their parliamentary majority and now are a minority government. Recognizing the error of their ways the Liberals are now dismantling their Green Energy program. Votes count now, and the future will have to look after itself.