Business in Canada is changing — and so is Canadian Business.
Trusted by executives and entrepreneurs for nearly a century, the country’s preeminent business magazine is refocused, reenergized and ready for its exciting relaunch this October. Online and in print, the publication will offer everything from inspiring profiles to unique thought leadership that reflects the changing face of business from coast to coast — and with an eye to global trends.
“Business leaders today are not the same as they were a decade ago — or even five years ago,” says Charlotte Herrold, the newly appointed editor-in-chief of Canadian Business. “They’re young, diverse and progressively minded. They’re working to build a better future for Canada by fostering meaningful change, not by looking only at the bottom line.”
With this shift already underway, the upending effects of COVID-19 have brought these leaders — and their boundary-pushing ideas — even further to the fore. As they help Canada “build back better” in the post-pandemic world, Canadian Business will be there to serve up the inspiration and resources to fuel their important work.
It’s something that Canadian Business has been doing for more than 90 years. The magazine got its start in 1928 as a newsletter of the nascent Canadian Chamber of Commerce. Though its content was soberly bureaucratic, its aim (and that of the Chamber) was lofty: to foster a spirit of cooperation among business leaders — and in doing so, encourage innovation and improve the economy.
In 2021 and beyond, Canadian Business is all about bringing together the country’s business community. And whether you’re a small-business owner or a captain of industry, joining our community has real benefits. Sign up now for our e-newsletter to learn more about our relaunch and the many ways we’ll be challenging the status quo to showcase new ways of doing business. Among them, our Canadian Business Leadership Circle offers exclusive insights and experiences courtesy of a new C suite-level executive every month, while our CB Insider membership program will help you connect with other business leaders from across Canada.
Because those are the things leaders do. They communicate with clarity and authenticity. They embrace change. They build relationships with purpose. Exactly what you can expect from the new Canadian Business.
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Every year, Canadian Business has highlighted the entrepreneurial leaders of Canada through the the Growth List—a ranking of established businesses on five-year revenue growth and startups on two-year revenue growth. Formerly known as the Growth 500, the Growth List and Start-Up List winners are profiled in a special print issue of Canadian Business published with the December issue of Maclean’s magazine.
“Despite turbulence, the 2020 Growth List companies showed resilience, spirit and, most importantly, empathy and strong leadership,” says Susan Grimbly, Growth List Editor. “As we celebrate over 30 years of the Canada’s Fastest-Growing Companies program, it’s encouraging to see that the heart of Canada’s entrepreneurial community beats strong, even in tough times.”
Ranked categories include, Business Pivot; Employer of the Year; Excellence in Diversity; Female Entrepreneur of the Year; Global Business; Philanthropy Service; and Technology Trailblazer.
“The award-winning entrepreneurs are fleet, incredibly imaginative and creative; and truly passionate,” sys Grimbly. “They demonstrate these attributes, from their significant growth in 2019, their resilience in 2020, and their magnificent leadership, going into 2021. As such, they stand like goliaths above the crowd.”
Here are this year’s winners:
Fastest Growing Company Award
Benjamin Bakst, CEO & Co-founder / Elliott Kazarnovsky, CFO & Co-founder
This Toronto-based development and investment company has quickly established itself as a juggernaut in a competitive industry. Sales revenues grew by a whopping 57,144%, from 2014 to 2019. Succeeding in development, Benjamin Bakst, CEO & Co-founder, says, is about more than putting up buildings. It’s about understanding the market; and how the different sectors (residential, commercial, rental) inform each other. Strategic investment in rental properties across North America adds to the company’s lustre. “We do have a specialty,” notes Bakst. “It’s value-add real estate.”
Fastest Growing Start-Up Award
Steel River Group
Trent Fequet, Founder & CEO
After working in the mining and construction sectors in Northwestern Canada, Founder & CEO Trent Fequet began crafting a business plan for a company that could work for energy giants, but also provide work for Indigenous peoples. He launched Steel River Group in 2017. Calgary-based Steel River Group has established remarkable partnerships with both construction giants and First Nations groups, leading to extraordinary growth. This year’s Start-Up winner boasts two-year revenue growth of 8,662% since 2017.
Business Pivot Award
Henry Bee CEO, Co-founder / Jesse Chen, CTO, Co-founder
This award celebrates an entrepreneur whose original ideas may be good, but may not flourish; having to sniff for the path to success. Vancouver-based CoPilot started as a FinTech but realized their customers—financial advisors—needed revenue-generating sales leads. They experimented with several formats till developing the CoPilot Prospecting Dashboard (CPD). In February 2018, CoPilot AI rocketed from $5,000 a month in revenue to $30,000. Even then, they struggled, whacked by problems of growing too fast. A testament to courage.
Employer of the Year Award
Ahava Digital Group
Dr. Janét Aizenstros, Chairwoman & CEO
“Ethical” lives in Ahava’s digital-marketing company’s DNA, from offering ethically verified consumer data, to commanding a women-led consultancy “that helps shift the perspective of Fortune, B-corporations and media companies to grow relationships with women consumers in an intuitive way.” Dr. Aizenstros supports and promotes her 300-strong workforce through BIPOC initiatives and a full slate of benefits: from employee share-ownership plans and bonuses tied to individual performance to a formal career-planning program and parental leave top-up/childcare subsidies.
Excellence In Diversity Award
Amad Abdullah, President / Mueen Abdullah, Director / Nomar Abdullah, Director
The Excellence in Diversity Award celebrates a company whose diversity initiatives create an inclusive employee culture. KW Signs, a large manufacturer of metal sign frames that supports over 350 distributors across Canada and the United States, boasts 26 BIPOC employees who speak 13 languages among them, and believes it’s that diversity that allows the company to quickly hire great talent. KW runs mentorship initiatives in the Kitchener-Waterloo area, helping them connect with a robust job-seeker pool; and encourages diverse hiring.
Female Entrepreneur of the Year Award
Judith Fetzer, CEO
Judith Fetzer of Cook it, a Montreal-based meal prep service, has built a thriving company through acumen and agility. The original 2014 à la carte model shifted to a subscription-based model in 2016 (tripling sales). Given the exponential increase in demand during the quarantine economy, the workforce itself became the challenge. With roughly 200 employees in early March, Cook it hired an external recruiting committee, who hired over 300 new “distance candidates”. While sales revenues soared, Fetzer had to recraft company culture on the fly, introducing new initiatives, to help employees flourish.
Global Business Award
Allen Eaves, CEO
STEMCELL Technologies develops specialty cell culture media, cell isolation systems and accessory products for research in dozens of fields. It delivers 2,500 products directly to 22 countries; and via a global network of distribution centres to 90 other countries. Vancouver-based STEMCELL has a clearly thought-out strategy for global expansion; and it’s got the reach to prove it. By 2030, global sales are projected to be $1 billion, with an estimated 5,000 employees.
Philanthropy Service Award
Domenic Madonna, CEO & Owner / Charles Deponte, Owner
This company has a track record of deep involvement in its community. In the spring, D-Squared Construction pledged $25,000 worth of relief, asking people in need to drop a short story in their DM’s describing their challenges. Amounts ranging from $1,000 to $2,500 were handed out. Through the hashtag #SPREADTHELOVE, they encouraged other businesses to jump in, too. Further, in its targeted program “Pave the Way”, D-Squared helps youth directly in Ottawa (in partnership with United Way). Now in its third year, Pave the Way has expanded with a program called Critical Hours, supporting at-risk youth in 10 of Ottawa’s most at-risk neighbourhoods.
Technology Trailblazer Award
Jon Lipinski, Co-Founder & President / Yuanming Shu, Co-Founder & CEO / Shuo Tan, Co-Founder & CTO
Dr. Yuanming Shu asked: How can AI teach a computer to interpret geospatial imagery like a human? He developed the core mapping technology, which “uses data from satellites, mobile phones, drones and air imaging sensors to paint an information-rich picture of our world,” founding Ecopia.AI in 2013 with Shuo Tan and Jon Lipinski. The goal: To create the first complete map of our world, in real time. This exceptional achievement has far-reaching implications for the developing world, where NGO and humanitarian organizations operate without accurate information about their geography.
Thanks again to our amazing sponsors for making the Growth 2020: CEO Summit possible: Presenting sponsor, Salesforce, Category sponsor, BDC, Awards sponsor, Johnnie Walker Blue Label and Gifting sponsor, Herbaland.
When AG Hair moved into its new, 70,000-sq.-foot, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Coquitlam, B.C., two years ago, it was part of a plan to supercharge expansion of its hair care product line to salons in international markets. Europe was next on its list. Then COVID-19 hit.
Not only was the European expansion put on hold, but salons in major markets across Canada and the United States were temporarily closed. Very few were purchasing hair products, so manufacturing was halted in mid-March, leaving most of the company’s 82 employees out of work.
AG Hair could have waited out the pandemic but instead decided to lean into its entrepreneurial culture and make a sharp pivot. It began providing hand-sanitizing products for front-line health-care workers, addressing a global shortage.
“We realized there was this massive need for health-care professionals, and we wanted to make a difference and be able to provide them with the products they needed,” says AG Hair CEO Graham Fraser.
AG Hair received Canadian and U.S. approvals a week after applying for the licences needed to make sanitizer, and produced samples to show local authorities within 48 hours.
“That rapid response time, and the fact that we had gone through all of the Health Canada regulatory hurdles, showed [the local health authorities] that we were a partner they could trust and someone they could look to, to deliver the products they needed,” Fraser says.
Within a month, the company started pumping out the products, first for the health-care industry, then for consumers on its own website and on Amazon. About 10 per cent of AG Hair’s hand-sanitizer production also went to people in need, as identified by organizations such as United Way.
Parallel 49 Brewing Company is also using AG Hair’s Coquitlam manufacturing facility to produce its own blend of liquid hand sanitizer for front-line health and emergency workers, in partnership with the B.C. government.
Fraser credits his team for its energy and creativity in making the hand-sanitizer production happen, and helping put AG Hair staff back to work.
“We realized we had an opportunity . . . and then it became this incredible, almost war-room mentality and collaboration with our owners, our executive team and our people to say, ‘How are we going to get through this?’ ” Fraser recalls. “I think our success speaks to the type of people we have and the entrepreneurial spirit of pursuing every avenue we have, understanding how we can produce the products and making it happen.”
AG Hair’s commitment to investing in future growth is a big part of what makes it a Best Managed company, says Nicole Coleman, a partner at Deloitte and co-lead of its Best Managed Program in B.C.
“Capability and innovation come through quite strongly with this company,” says Coleman, who is also AG Hair’s coach at Deloitte. “I don’t think they would be able to pivot as quickly if they weren’t so strategic and had the internal capabilities to do it.”
The manufacturing facility was a big investment, but one Coleman says has already paid dividends.
“They were looking forward with a strategic plan in mind about future growth and how they could expand, rather than just focusing on the day to day,” she says. “Best Managed companies are always pushing the envelope and are conscious about planning for the future.”
AG Hair was founded in Vancouver in 1989 by hairstylist John Davis and graphic artist Lotte Davis. The husband-and-wife team began bottling hair products in their basement and selling them direct to salons from the back of a station wagon.
The company eventually moved its manufacturing off-site, to a third party. One day, John went to watch the operations and was surprised to see salt being poured into the mixture. Although he was told salt is commonly used as a thickener, he didn’t like the potential side effects of dry hair and skin.
It was at that moment John decided the company would oversee its own manufacturing. “Through that experience, John also became an expert in product development,” says Fraser, who came to the company in 2000 as director of sales.
After having worked for more than two decades at PepsiCo and Kraft Foods, Fraser was eager to work at a smaller, more agile company where he felt he could help make a difference.
“It was perfect because I got to bring a lot of structure and process that I learned in those organizations, but I also learned an awful lot about being an entrepreneur from John and Lotte: that sense of urgency, the decision-making process, the need to get things done and drive things forward and pursue opportunities,” he says.
Fraser has helped drive AG Hair’s expansion into the U.S. and internationally, including Australia, Taiwan, and Central and South America. A portion of its sales go to One Girl Can, a charity founded by Lotte that provides schooling, education and mentoring for girls in sub-Saharan Africa.
Fraser also oversees the development of new, trending products, including a new deep-conditioning hair mask made with 98 per cent plant-based and natural ingredients. Hand-sanitizing spray and gel will be the latest addition to the company’s product lineup.
“We don’t see the demand [for hand-sanitizing products] going away,” he says. “As the isolation policies start to get lifted, people are going to need forms of security and protocols as they get back into regular life and work. We see there’s going to be a need for these types of products long-term.”
This article appears in print in the June 2020 issue of Maclean’s magazine with the headline, “Working out the kinks.” Subscribe to the monthly print magazine here.
VANCOUVER — The first stage of an extradition hearing for a senior executive of Chinese tech giant Huawei started in a Vancouver courtroom M onday, a case that has infuriated Beijing, caused a diplomatic uproar between China and Canada and complicated high-stakes trade talks between China and the United States.
Canada’s arrest of chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou, the daughter of Huawei’s legendary founder, in late 2018 at America’s request enraged Beijing to the point it detained two Canadians in apparent retaliation.
Huawei represents China’s progress in becoming a technological power and has been a subject of U.S. security concerns for years. Beijing views Meng’s case as an attempt to contain China’s rise.
“Our government has been clear. We are a rule of law country and we honour our extradition treaty commitments,” Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said at a cabinet retreat in Manitoba. “It is what we need to do and what we will do.”
China’s foreign ministry complained Monday the United States and Canada were violating Meng’s rights and called for her release.
“It is completely a serious political incident,” said a ministry spokesman, Geng Shuang. He urged Canada to “correct mistakes with concrete actions, release Ms. Meng Wanzhou and let her return safely as soon as possible.”
Washington accuses Huawei of using a Hong Kong shell company to sell equipment to Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions. It says Meng, 47, committed fraud by misleading the HSBC bank about the company’s business dealings in Iran.
Meng, who is free on bail and living in one of the two Vancouver mansions she owns, sat next to her lawyers wearing a black dress with white polka dots. She earlier waved at reporters as she arrived at court.
Meng denies the allegations. Her defence team says comments by President Donald Trump suggest the case against her is politically motivated.
“We trust in Canada’s judicial system, which will prove Ms. Meng’s innocence,” Huawei said in a statement as the proceedings began.
Meng was detained in December 2018 in Vancouver as she was changing flights — on the same day that Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping met for trade talks.
Prosecutors have stressed that Meng’s case is separate from the wider China-U.S. trade dispute, but Trump undercut that message weeks after her arrest when he said he would consider intervening in the case if it would help forge a trade deal with Beijing.
China and the U.S. reached a “Phase 1” trade agreement last week, but most analysts say any meaningful resolution of the main U.S. allegation — that Beijing uses predatory tactics in its drive to supplant America’s technological supremacy — could require years of contentious talks. Trump had raised the possibility of using Huawei’s fate as a bargaining chip in the trade talks, but the deal announced Wednesday didn’t mention the company.
Huawei is the biggest global supplier of network gear for cellphone and internet companies. Washington is pressuring other countries to limit use of its technology, warning they could be opening themselves up to surveillance and theft.
James Lewis at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies said the U.S. wanted to send a message with Meng’s arrest. There is good evidence that Huawei wilfully violated sanctions, he said.
“The message that you are no longer invulnerable has been sent to Chinese executives,” Lewis said. “No one has held China accountable. They steal technology, they violate their WTO commitments and the old line is, ‘Oh, they are a developing economy, who cares.’ When you are the second-largest economy in the world you can’t do that anymore.”
The initial stage of Meng’s extradition hearing will focus on whether Meng’s alleged crimes are crimes both in the United States and Canada. Her lawyers filed a a motion Friday arguing that Meng’s case is really about U.S. sanctions against Iran, not a fraud case. Canada does not have similar sanctions on Iran.
“This extradition has every appearance of the United States seeking to enlist Canada to enforce the very sanctions we have repudiated,” Meng’s lawyer Richard Peck said in court.
The second phase, scheduled for June, will consider defence allegations that Canada Border Services, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the FBI violated her rights while collecting evidence before she was actually arrested.
The extradition case could take years to resolve if there are appeals. Nearly 90 per cent of those arrested in Canada on extradition requests from the U.S. were surrendered to U.S. authorities between 2008 and 2018.
In apparent retaliation for Meng’s arrest, China detained former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and Canadian entrepreneur Michael Spavor. The two men have been denied access to lawyers and family and are being held in prison cells where the lights are kept on 24-hours-a-day.
China has also placed restrictions on various Canadian exports to China, including canola oil seed and meat. Last January, China also handed a death sentence to a convicted Canadian drug smuggler in a sudden retrial.
“That’s mafia-style pressure,” Lewis said.
Gillies reported from Toronto
Jim Morris And Rob Gillies, The Associated Press
TORONTO — TekSavvy Solutions Inc. is appealing to Canadian consumers for support in a politically charged battle between Canada’s independent internet service providers and the big phone and cable companies.
Bell, Rogers and Canada’s other major phone and cable companies asked the federal cabinet in November to overrule a 2019 regulatory decision that slashes how much they can charge independent ISPs like TekSavvy.
The industry giants argued the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission overstepped its authority in August by cutting wholesale capacity rates by up to 43 per cent and chopping access rates up to 77 per cent.
Canada’s small and mid-sized ISPs collectively serve about one million households using infrastructure they either own or rent.
TekSavvy vice-president Janet Lo said Monday that the Chatham-based company — Canada’s largest independent ISP — has launched a campaign to urge the public and politicians to support the CRTC.
The campaign will include billboards, transit ads, radio advertising and social media, she added.
An ad included in a TekSavvy press release asks, “Tired of being gouged?”, and urges consumers to “speak up.”
“We’re just trying general awareness, to make sure all Canadians know that they can have their voices heard and talk to their MPs if this issue is important to them,” Lo said in an interview from Ottawa.
The cabinet has set Feb. 14 as the deadline for receiving comments on the issue and TekSavvy says it will collect comments through the website Paylesstoconnect.ca.
Bell and a group of other mainstream internet service providers have also launched complementary but separate challenges through the Federal Court of Appeal and the CRTC itself.
Among other things, one of the key issues in dispute is whether the CRTC or the carriers themselves are in the most qualified to calculate how much it costs the big providers to provide wholesale infrastructure.
The big carriers argue that the CRTC’s review process — which took more than three years to complete — was flawed and will undermine confidence required for them to risk billions of dollars to build high-quality networks.
TekSavvy argues that the big carriers are attempting to use the CRTC, courts and cabinet to “game the system with impunity” by using inflated wholesale costs that cripple their smaller rivals.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 20, 2020.
Companies in this story: (TSX:BCE, TSX:RCI.B, TSX:T, TSX:SJR.B, TSX:QBR.B)
David Paddon, The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — When President Donald Trump’s historic impeachment trial is called to order in the Senate this week, he won’t be watching from inside the chamber or on television from the White House.
He’ll be thousands of miles away at the Davos economic forum in the Swiss Alps, trying to charm global CEOs over dinner.
Trump’s participation in the annual World Economic Forum will provide a conspicuous split-screen moment in a presidency familiar with them. His two-day visit to Switzerland will test his ability to balance his anger over being impeached with a desire to project leadership on the world stage.
Administration officials say Trump remains focused on serving the public.
“The president’s work doesn’t stop just because of the impeachment sham,” White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in an email.
Trump, who departs Washington on Monday night, said he’s going to Davos to encourage businesses to invest in the U.S.
“We’re now where the action is,” he said at a farmers’ convention Sunday in Texas.
Swooping in for what will be his second appearance at the annual Swiss economic forum, Trump was scheduled to arrive at the ski resort early Tuesday and jet back on Wednesday to a Washington that will be consumed by the impeachment trial.
The White House did not release much advance information about the president’s schedule but he is expected to give a speech and meet world leaders and business executives.
The Democratic-controlled House impeached the Republican president last month for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress after it was revealed that he had pressed Ukraine’s president to announce investigations into former Democratic Vice-President Joe Biden, a Trump political rival. Trump withheld foreign aid that Congress had approved for the Eastern European nation and dangled the prospect of an Oval Office meeting as leverage.
Trump denies any wrongdoing and argues that Democrats want to remove him from office because they know they can’t deny him reelection in November. Trump would be forced to leave office if convicted, but the Republican-controlled Senate is expected to acquit him.
Trump said he would attend the Davos forum despite the awkward timing because he wants to encourage businesses to come back to the U.S.
“Our country is the hottest country anywhere in the world,” he said at the White House last week. “There’s nothing even close. I’ll be meeting the biggest business leaders in the world, getting them to come here.”
The White House has not said which presidents or prime ministers will get one-on-one sessions with Trump, but he is expected to have his first meeting with the new European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, the first woman to hold the position.
That meeting could be the most significant, said analyst Matt Goodman, given Trump’s many disagreements with Europe over tax and trade policy, like a new digital levy by the French that will force American tech giants such as Amazon and Google to pay up.
“She’s new and she’s formidable,” said Goodman, who studies international economic policy as a senior vice-president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
He predicted a difficult year ahead for U.S.-EU relations.
“It could either go very well or very badly,” Goodman said.
Trump has smarted over the French tax and his administration has announced plans to impose retaliatory tariffs of up to 100% on cheese, wine, lipstick and other French imports. France has threatened to fight back.
The U.S. has also threatened to impose retaliatory duties on $7.5 billion worth of European airplanes, cheese, wine and other goods in a separate dispute over subsidies for Airbus, a competitor to Chicago-based Boeing Co.
Trump also has sought to wring trade concessions from the EU by threatening tariffs on German autos, including BMW and Mercedes-Benz.
Trump heads to Switzerland as just the third American president, after Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton, to face a Senate impeachment trial. Johnson and Clinton were both acquitted by the Senate.
There is precedent for international travel by an impeached U.S. leader.
During his impeachment over an affair with a White House intern, Clinton visited Japan, South Korea, Israel and the Palestinian Authority. He also travelled to Jordan for King Hussein’s funeral in February 1999, just a few days before he was acquitted by the Senate.
Two days after acquittal, Clinton went to Mexico on a state visit.
Trump is planning to make his first visit to India at the end of February, probably after the conclusion of his impeachment trial. He also has talked about travelling soon to Beijing, although he has given no dates, to open a new round of trade talks with China.
Follow Darlene Superville on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dsupervilleap
Darlene Superville, The Associated Press
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Alberta’s rural municipalities say the amount of unpaid property taxes they’re owed by oil and gas companies has more than doubled over the past year.
The association says they are owed a total of $173 million — a 114 per cent increase over last spring.
Years of low oil prices have left many small producers in dire straits.
But rural officials say recent court decisions have left them powerless to collect tax money owed them by financially troubled companies.
As well, they say the provincial government recently ended a program which refunded them money they lost by reducing taxes for certain kinds of wells.
Reeve Paul McLauchlin of Ponoka County, where unpaid taxes amount to about 10 per cent of overall revenues, suggests the non-payment amounts to a tax revolt by an industry looking to cut costs wherever it can.
He says some of those taxes are owed by companies that are still operating and viable.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 20, 2020
The Canadian Press
CALGARY — The oil and gas industry needs to increase efforts to address climate change or risk becoming socially unacceptable and unprofitable, according to a new International Energy Agency report.
“No energy company will be unaffected by clean energy transitions,” said Fatih Birol, the IEA’s executive director, in a statement Monday.
The world is demanding energy services and emissions reductions at the same time, the report said. Social pressures on the industry are rising, it noted, highlighting growing opposition to new infrastructure projects in certain areas and fracking bans.
“Every part of the industry needs to consider how to respond. Doing nothing is simply not an option.”
Some companies have taken steps to address climate change, but the report said the industry as a whole could do more.
The diverse industry requires a variety of approaches dependant on individual company’s circumstances, according to the report, which was produced in co-operation with the World Economic Forum and will be presented at the organization’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, Tuesday.
The “immediate task” for the industry is to reduce its operational environmental footprint, Birol said.
Approximately 15 per cent of the world’s energy-related greenhouse gas emissions come from getting oil and gas out of the ground and to consumers, the report found.
“A large part of these emissions can be brought down relatively quickly and easily,” said Birol.
The most important and cost-effective measure would be to reduce methane leaks to the atmosphere, the report said. Other measures include integrating renewables and low-carbon electricity into new upstream and liquefied natural gas (LNG) developments.
The report argues the industry and its resources and skills “will be critical” in helping some key capital-intensive clean energy technologies, like low-carbon hydrogen and biofuels, reach maturity. It says that scaling up such technologies and lowering their cost requires qualities the industry has, such as large-scale engineering and project management capabilities.
“Without the industry’s input, these technologies may simply not achieve the scale needed for them to move the dial on emissions,” Birol said.
On average, oil and gas companies invest about one per cent of their total capital spending in non-core areas — with the greatest amount in solar photovoltaics (PV) and wind. Leading individual companies spend about five per cent, according to the report, which adds “a much more significant change” in capital spending allocation is needed to accelerate energy transitions.
The energy sector can transform without the help of the oil and gas industry, the report reads, but that is a more difficult and expensive path.
“Regardless of which pathway the world follows, climate impacts will become more visible and severe over the coming years, increasing the pressure on all elements of society to find solutions. These solutions cannot be found within today’s oil and gas paradigm.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 20, 2020.
The Canadian Press
DAVOS, Switzerland — Climate issues are set to be one of the main talking points at the World Economic Forum in the Swiss ski resort of Davos this week, but a survey of CEOs released Monday shows that they are not even ranked among the top ten threats to business growth.
In its annual report ahead of the gathering in Davos, financial services group PwC said climate change and environmental issues are ranked as the 11th biggest threat to their companies’ growth prospects. Though up one spot from the same survey a year ago, climate-related issues lag way behind other concerns such as over-regulation, which ranks as the number 1 worry. Other concerns in the top 10 include trade conflicts, lack of skills among workers and populism in politics.
According to the survey, 24% of CEOs are “extremely concerned” about climate-related issues, compared to 38% for over-regulation.
As they gather for the World Economic Forum, CEOs and politicians like U.S. President Donald Trump are set to face mounting pressure from environmental groups and activists like Swedish teen Greta Thunberg to respond to the climate emergency. The meeting follows last week’s revelation that the last decade was the hottest ever recorded on Earth.
The survey also found that the number of CEOs who are pessimistic about the economic outlook has almost doubled over the past year, with 53% predicting a decline in the rate of growth this year, up from 29% in 2019. This is the highest level of pessimism recorded by PwC since it started surveying the issue in 2012 and illustrates how the trade conflict between the U.S. and China has weighed on the global economy.
PwC said pessimism was widespread but particularly so in North America, Western Europe and the Middle East.
“Given the lingering uncertainty over trade tensions, geopolitical issues and the lack of agreement on how to deal with climate change, the drop in confidence in economic growth is not surprising — even if the scale of the change in mood is,” said Bob Moritz, Chairman, of the PwC Network.
“These challenges facing the global economy are not new. However the scale of them and the speed at which some of them are escalating is new. The key issue for leaders gathering in Davos is: how are we going to come together to tackle them?”
PwC conducted 1,581 interviews, mainly online, with CEOs in 83 countries between September and October 2019. It weights the sample by national GDP to ensure that CEOs’ views are fairly represented across all major regions.
Pan Pylas, The Associated Press
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