As you walk up the switchback staircase to World Trade Centre Winnipeg’s 2nd floor seminar room located in the heritage City Hall brick building on Provencher Blvd, you can almost feel the storied past and proud history. This presents a stark contrast to the seminar topic of climate change, one that often prompts feelings of fear and despair for the future of our planet.
Hosted by Darren Swanson of Novel Futures and presented by IISD and Manitoba Chambers of Commerce, this June 10 two-hour panel session on climate change effects and business featured IISD Director of Climate Change Canada, David McLaughlin, and an expert panel representing four local organizations excelling in sustainability — Paul Vogt, President & CEO, Red River College; Michelle Gowdar, COO & co-founder, ReGen Composites Global; Richard March, Head of Global Digital Agronomy, Farmers Edge; and Assiniboine Credit Union’s Manager, Environmental Sustainability, Dennis Cunningham.
More than 80 participants joined the session in-person and online, including many local innovators and clean tech sector companies.
“The reality is that the climate has been changing, and that has been happening since around mid-last century with an overall trending up of temperatures,” said McLaughlin. “The very simplified way to describe climate change is that the sun warms the air around the Earth, and some of that heat escapes. But human activities are producing so much greenhouse gas, it traps some of that heat, increasing the overall global temperature.”
Many everyday discussions related to climate change deal with the negative effects, such as extreme weather events like flooding and drought, raging forest fires caused by heat and dryness, food insecurity, and changes that challenge our way of life.
“Climate change has caused us to question the durability and longevity of ice roads, for instance; to witness snowfalls in regions previously untouched by snow, and for crops that were once successful investments in certain areas to no longer be able to grow there.”
But McLaughlin says that’s only half the picture. There are positive aspects as well, such as longer growing seasons, quickened ice melting in the Arctic resulting in improved access to ports, opportunities to explore new agricultural options, and big job growth and market potential in the clean tech sector.
“At this point, we are NOT doing well in Canada in terms of tracking towards meeting our GHG reductions targets for 2020 and 2030 as part of the Paris Agreement, and we need to step it up. In Manitoba, we must continue innovating and addressing those sectors which are contributing the most to our emissions — trucking and agriculture.”
For information about Manitoba climate change projections from University of Winnipeg’s Prairie Climate Centre: climateatlas.ca
Special thanks to our hosts, World Trade Centre Winnipeg, and to all our guests for sharing strategic insights with us. Watch this News section going forward for profiles of our four panelists and their organizational sustainability plans, as well as features about other local companies doing cool things in this sector.