Majority of Quebec companies want to decarbonize the economy: CPQ survey

The majority of businesses want to contribute to the decarbonization of the economy, according to a survey conducted by the Conseil du patronat du Québec (CPQ).

However, some obstacles stand in their way, according to the document, which was released Thursday.

Seventy percent of businesses agree that more needs to be done to fight global warming, something that is "music to the ears" of Karl Blackburn, president and CEO of the CPQ.

"Companies want to do more. They are ready to sign the social contract for the environment," he said.

The survey shows that 84 per cent of Quebecers want the government to pass tougher laws to force companies to reduce pollution.

Businesses share this goal, Blackburn insists, but adds "it's going to require significant capital investment."

The government can encourage companies to go green, notably by integrating environmental objectives into its calls for tenders, suggests the CPQ.

"It may cost more in the short term, but in the medium and long term, the return on investment is much greater," Blackburn said.

As a result, the CPQ is making a series of recommendations to promote the decarbonization of the economy, including expanding the scope of the carbon market to other sectors and jurisdictions, integrating eco-taxation into the Quebec system, investing in public transportation and encouraging a circular economy.

CPQ member Transcontinental says it is focusing on the circular economy, recycling plastic in its packaging products, says Charles David Mathieu-Poulin, head of public affairs and stakeholder relations.

For example, the Publisac bag, criticized by some environmental groups as a major waste generator, is 100 per cent recyclable.

The Montreal-based company says it wants 10 per cent of its packaging components to be recycled by 2025.

While Transcontinental has the financial means to invest in the transition, Mathieu-Poulin acknowledges that there are costs associated with it that could be an obstacle for other companies.

"Yes, there is a cost in research and development. You have to have labs and equipment," he said. "Once you have developed new products, you sometimes have to make adjustments or buy new equipment that can cost several million dollars."

Investing in sustainable development is a good thing because it attracts new customers and keeps up with changing regulations, Mathieu-Poulin adds.

It's also a way to bring in labour in a context where manpower is scarce.

According to the CPQ survey, 71 per cent of Quebecers say the stronger a company's environmental values are, the more they want to work for it.

"It's important to know that you're working for a company that takes sustainable development seriously and that it's part of the strategy,'' Mathieu-Poulin said.

-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Jan. 20, 2022. 

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