Climate change to bring ‘huge economic opportunities’

by | Mar 20, 2015 | News

Kaeleigh Phillips
Environmental Reporter

Keen business students listened intently as keynote speaker Jeff Rubin explained why a petro-based economy is not sustainable for Canadians.

The second annual Humber sustainability conference held on March 18 featured Rubin, an author and economist, and Humber International Project Director, Kent Schroeder.

The sustainability conference was an initiative put on by the Humber Business School.

It is a three-year project that emphasizes the three foundational building blocks of sustainability in business..

“We believe these are the three pillars in the business world,” said Lakeshore Business program coordinator Suzanne Iskander. “We presented it from an environmental point of view. This year it’s economic, and next year is social.”

The conference included lectures by Rubin and Schroder, followed by an open panel discussion and lunch.

Rubin wrote The End of Growth, which explores the economic impact of oil on the world’s economy. The former chief economist at CIBC World Markets for 20 years argues that the end of cheap oil spells the end for growth.

Rubin brought up key points to consider in order to have a sustainable economic model in Canada.

“Before you save the world, save your portfolio. Get your stocks out of carbon while you still have them,” he said.

Rubin described that a more sustainable economic model was needed to create more stable economic growth in the future.

“Petro-currency has destroyed manufacturing,” said Rubin. “Ontario is a have-not state.”

Another factor that Rubin emphasized was the government’s involvement with the state of the Canadian economy.

“There are huge economic opportunities that climate change will bring,” he said. “We can’t explore those options right now because we can’t talk about climate change.”

Ken Schroeder, the other lecture speaker at the event is the International Projects coordinator at Humber Lakeshore campus and completed his PhD thesis on the economic model of Bhutan.

Bhutan employs a very different model to their economy and politics than Canada, using a phenomenon called the Gross National Happiness Factor (GNH).

The Gross National Happiness Factor uses 33 indicators to measure the happiness and well-being of its citizens to ensure better quality of life.

“Bhutan is not a sustainability utopia. But Canada should be taking steps in the same direction as this country,” Shroeder said.

Shroeder further emphasized this model could change power dynamics and promote sustainability in business because different values would enter into the Canadian economy.

Iskander said the sustainability conferences move towards helping students consider sustainability in their business pursuits and gain perspective of different ideologies towards building a better world.

“We are arranging the deck chairs in a sinking ship with our environment. If we don’t do something very soon, it could get very scary,” Iskander said.