A world of opportunity
Alberta’s reputation – both domestic and international – hinges largely on its management of oil sands development, and as we all know, that reputation has taken a beating in recent years. Survey respondents agree, with 68 per cent of those who weighed in on the matter saying Alberta’s business interests have been damaged by our global reputation on environmental stewardship.
But our feelings on the file are decidedly mixed, which is perhaps appropriate for such an important and divisive issue. Respondents generally feel that the energy sector is putting sufficient effort into environmental stewardship (with 61 per cent giving the industry the thumbs up), and that the environmental regulations in the province are sufficient (with 57 per cent giving their imprimatur). Larger companies tend to be more optimistic about how well we’re doing, and it probably doesn’t surprise anyone to learn that the oil and gas industry is the first to say the energy sector is properly managing the environmental file, and that current regulations in the province are sufficient.
But not everyone is convinced. The tech sector was generally unimpressed with the energy industry environmental record, and the people within it had the lowest opinion of the province’s relevant regulations. Smaller businesses also tend to take a more dim view of both the regulations and of the sector’s efforts.
Javier Vinsome, an accountant and the diversity advisor with the Alberta Accountants Unification Agency, says he wonders if the province is really doing enough to keep oil and gas companies in line. “Honestly, I think the reputation outside of our province is pretty poor,” he says, and while the provincial government is motivated to put effort into the environmental file, companies in the oil and gas sector may not be holding up their end. “To pick on oil and gas, the sentiment at many conferences I’ve attended is that the oil and gas industry is only considering environmental regulations because they are forced to do so. For some, “environmental stakeholders” and “efficient environmentally friendly practices” are buzzwords manufactured by the PR departments of said companies. Internally, it’s been said it’s cheaper to pay the fine and beg forgiveness later than it is to actually create environmentally friendly sustainable practices and cut into profits.”
What just about everyone does agree on, however, is the nature of one giant opportunity for businesses in the provinces. Ninety-four per cent of respondents who took a position said they agreed that investment in clean energy technologies – things that reduce the energy and water required to produce bitumen from the oil sands, or that would otherwise lead to better environmental results than we’re currently getting – would offer new opportunities for Alberta’s businesses.
You Said It
“Alberta businesses may in fact be doing really excellent progress in the area of environment stewardship, but they do not do a very good job of broadcasting their progress, programs and achievements.”
– Jim Coroon, Business Development Manager, NWS Inspection
You Said It
“Carbon taxes are simply a way of transferring wealth from those that create jobs to those that do not. Very few of the dollars will go to improve the environment.”
– Les Grajkowski, Owner, Padgett Business Services