About our authors:
Michael Denham is Vice-Chairman of Commercial Banking and Financial Markets at National Bank, where Nicolas Jacob is Managing Director and Head of Clean Technology. In this article, they share their views on why all Canadian entrepreneurs should invest in cleantech for a better future.
More than ever, the fight against climate change must be a priority for all businesses. Entrepreneurs are facing mounting pressure from their customers, partners and investors alike — and they want to make a difference. The adoption of clean technologies has long been viewed as a future endeavour, but not anymore. The technologies are ready. The future is now.
With climate change rapidly accelerating, drastic changes are needed to meet emission targets by 2030. No one organization can achieve these goals — a collective effort from consumers and businesses alike is non negotiable to protect our planet.
Moving from fossil-fuel-generated electricity to renewable sources, committing to decarbonizing industrial processes and using cleaner fuels such as hydrogen are all part of the conversation in Canada. The government’s progress towards an ecological transformation is clear — the goals are set, and plans to meet those goals are already in place. Incentives are only going to increase in the near future; the same is true for polluter penalties.
In most cases, the efficiency of new equipment and systems will offset their initial purchasing costs — and with the rapidly growing costs of pollution, cleantech upgrades will allow your business to reduce expenses down the line. As an example, the price of carbon emissions are set to increase in the near future, making it more expensive not to capture or reduce carbon.
Investors and lenders are also setting their sights on investments with lower emissions in order to meet their own climate objectives. For investors, the pressure is mounting on all sides: shareholders are expecting their investments to be put toward a cleaner future, while end consumers are adopting brands that share the same values.
Some financial institutions — such as National Bank — even offer Sustainability Linked Loans (SLL), for which conditions favor borrowers who meet environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) key performance indicators (KPIs).
Clean technologies have never been more accessible. They allow business owners to better measure their emissions. The emergence of innovative AI audits makes measuring emissions quicker, more precise and more actionable thanks to AI data collection. Having relevant data to objectively measure the problem is key. All entrepreneurs should start by understanding their environmental footprint in order to find tailored solutions suited to their objectives.
Buildings make up the largest share of emissions for many Canadian businesses. The design and construction process of new buildings has changed — planning now includes net zero or negative emissions objectives, along with the use of new construction techniques and traceable materials.
Toronto-based ThoughtWire is committed to creating a world that is healthier, safer and cleaner by transforming built spaces into ESG powerhouses using its innovative Digital Twin Technology. They utilize available data from existing physical environments, people, and processes to create a digital building duplicate where different scenarios across operating systems can be tested. This simulation serves as the basis for more sustainable, safer and resilient buildings.
Distribution costs and transportation are another major source of emissions. Technology-enabled routing systems and electric vehicle solutions are the key to lessening your business transportation emissions — zero emission vehicle manufacturers like Lion Electric help businesses acquire electric vehicle (EV) fleets that bring down maintenance costs and eliminate fuel costs, thereby reducing the total ownership cost of business transportation in the long run. Lion Electric creates, designs and manufactures all-electric school buses, city trucks and minibuses. Lion believes that transitioning to all-electric vehicles will lead to major improvements in our society, environment and overall quality of life
As more contracts are signed, cleantech data will expand. The same is true for the resources available for businesses to use, making the shift to cleantech more available and affordable.
Adopting clean technology can be a major financial undertaking, especially when the new technology lacks proof of effectiveness in the long run. But as more solutions are tested in real-world settings, proof of their performance will grow, encouraging even the slowest of adopters to make the change.
However, two major challenges remain: financing and knowledge. For both, talk to your National Bank specialist. We’re proud to assist you in finding cleantech financing solutions for your business needs. Numerous businesses have found their success in being early adopters of new technologies. Now it’s your turn to be an agent of change in Canada’s green transition.
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