Canadians want government to ‘beat the hammer’ on business in the fight against climate change

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A growing number of Canadians do not believe in free market solutions and want the government to step in with stricter regulations in the fight against climate change.

New survey data, released Monday by the Canadian Center for Society Purposes (CCPC), revealed that Canadians’ attitudes towards corporate responsibility have changed over the past year.

According to the survey, two-thirds of Canadians now believe governments need to get tougher on Canadian businesses with laws, regulations and taxes to tackle issues of climate change and inequality.

The survey was conducted over the course of a week in May, among 1,500 Canadians. It follows an earlier poll, conducted last year, which found that growing numbers of Canadians are calling on government and business to do more to tackle social inequalities in Canada.

This feeling has increased dramatically as Covid-19 pandemic focused on, the latest findings of the investigation. More than ever, Canadians want governments to force companies to reduce their carbon footprints and tackle environmental issues.

“Canadians want a more equitable, inclusive and environmentally sustainable economic system,” said Brian Gallant, CEO of the CCPC and former Premier of New Brunswick. “They want to see the government knocking the hammer down on business as a necessity to make this a reality.”

Governments and businesses in Canada have faced many pressures to step up the fight against climate change.

Throughout the pandemic, the federal government has reiterated its promise to support big business in condition they strive to reduce their carbon footprint.

He also pledged to bring Canada to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, while many of the country’s biggest companies – even some of the biggest pollutants, including Suncor Energy Inc. and Air Canada – have followed suit.

But setting goals is only a fraction of the battle, critics say.

Over the past three decades, Canada has set several targets to reduce emissions and has not yet met a single.

Studies have found that the country’s disproportionate carbon footprint, which comes largely from Canada’s oil and gas sector, is hampering the government’s net zero goals. And in Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area, carbon emissions are steadily increasing with no sign of decreasing.

Tonya Surman, CEO of the Center for Social Innovation, said the Toronto-based nonprofit has more than 300 startups in its membership dedicated to driving social change, many of which produce and market clean technology.

The organization’s environmental initiatives program, Climate Ventures, seeks to find solutions to the climate crisis through entrepreneurship.

“As the harsh realities of inequality and climate change become increasingly visible, other sectors are mobilizing to join the movement,” said Surman. “It’s a real ‘now or never’ moment.”

Despite pressure from the business community, the latest research from the CCPC indicates a growing impatience among Canadians to wait for business-led solutions.

Almost 60 percent of respondents said capitalism in Canada should be “reformed” to be more inclusive and sustainable, while 16 percent said they felt the system was broken.

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Gallant said the responses marked a rejection of hope that the country’s problems will be solved through free market innovation.

“The message is clear: there is an appetite for government intervention,” Gallant said. “And if you’re in the business of business and think this is the right approach, then great. But if you don’t, then we would say now is the time to step up, proactively, before governments really feel compelled to force companies to act.



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