British Columbia

Make it easier for small businesses to go green, B.C. Chamber of Commerce urges government

B.C.'s business community is calling on the provincial and federal governments to do more to help mom-and-pop shops profit without compromising the planet. 

Appetite to lower carbon footprint is great, but incentives are lacking, says chamber CEO

The CleanBC Program for Industry redirects a portion of the province's carbon tax into incentives for cleaner operations. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

As scientists, policy-makers and activists around the world rally for urgent action on climate change, B.C.'s business community is calling on the provincial and federal governments to do more to help mom-and-pop shops profit without compromising the planet. 

Val Litwin, president and CEO of the B.C. Chamber of Commerce, says the vast majority of chamber members are small businesses — and it would be easier for these approximately 400,000 businesses to reduce their carbon footprint if they were offered better financial incentives to do so.

"The appetite is there," said Litwin, in a phone interview with CBC's The Early Edition Thursday. "We've got a business community that's open to creative solutions on how they can reduce their [emissions] but really the appetite now is how can we work in partnership with government to fix these issues."

One way governments could help, suggested Litwin, would be to offer upfront funding for businesses that want to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, as opposed to rebates or reimbursements.

He would also like to see the provincial government offer more to small business owners under the CleanBC Program, which redirects revenue from carbon tax into incentives for industry but Litwin says benefits bigger industry players. 

"The business community is saying, hey, lower the size and cost that a project or initiative has to be to be eligible for a government program," said Litwin. Just because a smaller company buys smaller pieces of machinery or equipment shouldn't mean they aren't rewarded for their efforts, he added.

'Focus less on sector … more about size of business'

Litwin said government and industry should discuss redistributing carbon tax revenue in a way that helps a broader range of businesses. 

Under the CleanBC Program for Industry a portion of B.C.'s carbon tax is redirected into incentives for cleaner operations. The program is designed for large industrial operations, such as pulp and paper mills, natural gas operations, refineries and large mines.

"Focus less on sector and talk more about size of business," Litwin urged. "If we can streamline some of these programs I think we'd see more entrepreneurs putting their hand up to get involved."

To hear the complete interview with Val Litwin, click on the audio link below:

Val Litwin, president and CEO of the B.C. Chamber of Commerce on the role businesses need to play to prevent global warming. 7:21

With files from The Early Edition

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