This year’s theme for Earth Day calls on everyone to play a role — all sectors of society. And “this time with the extraordinary responsibilities to get it right.” Accelerating solutions to combat our greatest threat, climate change, and to activate everyone – governments, citizens and businesses – to do their part. Everyone accounted for, and everyone accountable. (https://www.earthday.org)
Count. Us. In.
On this Earth Day, we’re dropping a tab called Responsibility into the Courtney.ca website. In this newly created section, we will share how — as a corporate citizen and as a group of people brought together through our business – we show up in the areas where we have impact and influence.
Ours is a customs brokerage and freight forwarding business. And, through that vantage point, our social purpose is to:
Make it easier for values-based business to succeed in the global marketplace.
The universal conversation about environmental protection is forcing us to become systems thinkers. Let’s face it, the planet is going to survive regardless of what we do to it. What we’re really talking about is the survival of the natural world which is dependent on the planet’s current offerings. The bee has become the poster child for our needed attention to the dependencies within our eco-systems.
If we are to learn anything from First Nations elders, it’s that we are responsible for the relationships we have and hold with each other and all parts of the natural world — including the land, air and water we depend on for survival.
We’re all connected and we’re all dependent on each other.
Under Responsibility, Courtney will share updates on our efforts and actions to make the connections as we:
We invite you to follow our journey and, most importantly, to join in with your own.
If you’ve followed the Courtney posts and blogs of late, you will be aware of our interest in business with a social purpose. It’s our belief that business has a responsibility to be conscious of the impact it has on people and the planet. In this regard, many of us are encouraging each other to learn more, talk more and act more.
Perhaps that’s why I was particularly taken aback when the most successful business owners among us made space tourism their priority this past summer. I felt profoundly disappointed by these ventures. While the three entrepreneurs were delivering messages about how space exploration would have social benefits, I could only think that the significant amount of resources required to propel them into orbit would have been better directed to ensuring our planet continues to be inhabitable.
This space race took centre stage in the media while the world was fighting fires on an unprecedented scale. Western Canada, California and other parts of the US, South America, a wide band through the middle of Africa, parts of Asia, and Greece were staggering to keep up with what we no longer debate is climate change-related heat, drought, and fires. Concurrently, Germany and other countries were fighting the flood waters that poured through their cities. All the while the global population reels with a virus that has significant implications for poorer countries and their access to vaccines.
While I am disappointed in the choices of these individuals, it’s not really where the responsibility finally resides. I wonder how we ended up with a system that allowed this to happen --the amassing of exceptionable amounts of wealth with too few people who are lauded when they use that wealth for social good. The world is somehow dependent on their good will and good judgment. Is it too much to expect and too much to ask? We’re asking those who have earned and who hold large amounts of capital to make value decisions about how it’s spent.
Each of the space tourists has done some great things with their influence and affluence. Branson and his partnership with Whole Earth Water, Musk and his development of the advanced electric car (the Tesla) and Bezos Day One Fund supporting the end of homelessness and other causes. But these recent space junkets negatively affect the environment by loading carbon into the most sensitive parts of our atmosphere.
To be clear, I am not against any space ventures or even all private space ventures. In fact, I believe our communications and other systems rely on them. But - because of the resources it takes and the pollution it contributes - perhaps decisions about space tourism need to be made in the public sphere rather than by private parties -- where there can be greater attention on balancing social priorities. More regulation, more scrutiny, more transparency and more public discourse.
There has been so much concerted effort within the shipping industry and every other industry to make real movement in addressing and arresting mounting carbon in our atmosphere. It would be disheartening to have our collective efforts adversely affected by big and opposing actions.
I’d be interested to hear your perspective.
Last month, the organization and key staff successfully completed the Climate Smart training and certification program, and started on our action plan for reducing our environmental impact. We have brought out attention to our “standby” power, paper use, lights and other electrical draws.
Truth be told, our business doesn’t have a huge carbon footprint – but we vow to do what we can and help to raise consciousness among our staff, our partners, our clients and our friends.
If you follow the Courtney blog and social posts, you’ll see theme. We pledged to stop using single-use plastic. Our family made the choice of electric bikes to ferry kids and run other errands around town. And we are addressing our carbon contribution. It takes real intention and attention to be the change we want to see – and we’re excited to be doing it.
My philosophy is that the “tipping point” will come when there is a critical mass of people and businesses willing to stand up and be counted – regardless of how big or small the businesses are. The more we each put up our hands, show our commitment through action, the more chance of real and lasting change. Individually and collectively, we are the drivers.
We invite you to join us by connecting with Climate Smart Business Inc. You too can take advantage of the data collection, training, tools and technical assistance you need to establish a baseline and make changes to your business practices will make the biggest difference to your numbers.
About Climate Smart
Climate Smart is a Canadian, award winning B Corp that certifies and enables businesses to profitably reduce greenhouse gas emissions and take action on climate change. Climate Smart has helped over 1000 businesses and 40 partner cities and organizations prepare for and participate in the low-carbon economy of the future. Using a data driven approach, Climate Smart provides innovative tools and programming for “host partners” on the front lines – cities, ports, airports, and financial institutions – to build capacity towards ESG and Net-Zero goals, disrupt old economic trajectories, and invest in more efficient technologies. Visit climatesmartbusiness.com to learn more.
A message about the 215 and more
Like so many, we are reeling with the recent discovery of the unmarked grave in Kamloops and knowledge that at least 4,000 more children lost their lives at the hands of the Canadian government and the churches. We have come to understand that this evidence of centuries of mistreatment was not a recent reveal to the Indigenous people on this land we call Canada. But the physical finding of children’s remains made it impossible to remain oblivious to what happened in Canada’s residential schools.
As Courtney is making social purpose and moral courage a more central part of its message and its mission, we want to acknowledge the atrocities of past generations and what still continues for the Indigenous peoples, their communities and their land. The very nature of Courtney’s business gives us a global view. But it lacks foundation if our social purpose doesn’t start right here at home – enhancing understanding between people and improving quality of life.
To acknowledge National Indigenous Peoples Day, we have taken action in the following ways:
We are starting into a journey of learning the truth for Indigenous people here on Turtle Island, as well as for those people around the world who suffer violent oppression and the threat of cultural genocide.
We invite you to join us.
Paul Courtney and Virginia Weiler
I love bikes.
In fact I have a bit of a collection for a variety of terrains (Mountain, Gravel, Road, Commute). I use my bikes for leisure and for transportation, and – until this year – my bike was powered exclusively by me.
But a recent switch in schools for my youngest child required a commute through Vancouver that required some thoughtful reconsideration...
How long would the route take in a car on Vancouver’s roadways?
How far can she ride a bike before she’s done?
And would she have the peddle-power to make it home after a long day? And would the accompanying adult want to do four of those trips a day – there and back for a drop; there and back for the pick-up?
Was the best option to move to the other side of the city?
(The resounding “NOOOO” from the pack still rings in my ears).
And then it came to us. The only sustainable way to make sure that our commute was consistently low impact was an electric cargo bike where our child is the cargo. In fact, we have found that we don’t just use it to transport our little one to school and back but also to all her sporting ventures and well as trips to the grocery store and such. It’s great, you just bike right up and drop off.
We have done over 2000 kms in less than 6 months. This is now our preferred local mode of transportation and here are the reasons why.
The bike we purchased is – hands-down – one of the best investments we’ve made. It was a bit spendy but I believe that, when it comes to electric bikes, you get what you pay for. The good news is it will pay for itself in saved parking, insurance and fuel costs.
We move faster than the cars that are clogging the streets. It’s a great ride, and my daughter feels comfortable and secure. Vancouver is relatively bike friendly so we take bike routes almost all the time. It’s easier than a car and there’s never an issue finding a place to park. You don’t need special athletic gear – this bike is just as happy with your work clothes, play clothes, or school clothes.
You get some exercise – at the level you want
I get as much exercise as I choose and and never more than I want. You can adjust the amount of “assist” but you always have to pedal. And, as we are much more likely to take this bike than our standard bikes, we are clocking far more “pedalling” hours now. The low-impact of pedalling will accommodate this type of exercise well into our advancing years. I sometimes am challenged to build exercise into my day (lack of time, reduced options during lock-downs, or injuries) but I can always get it on my commute to and from the office or the elementary school.
Vancouver is a rainy place with one of the most temperate climates in Canada. We rarely see snow, so we don’t really have to do anything to prepare for wintery road conditions. Hello friends in Calgary (where they saw the white stuff well into the month of May this year)... you may be interested in the balloon tires that hug a snowy road. Here on the Wet Coast, I will likely invest in the new attachments they have to provide some rain coverage.
It has environmental benefits
So much better for the environment than cars, electric bikes have virtually zero emissions, and are not dependent on fossil fuels (at least not in British Columbia where hydro is the primary energy source) and they do not pollute the air. Added bonus - they’re quiet so they don’t contribute to noise pollution, save for the bell you may have to use once in a while.
Supply chain issues
COVID has increased the demand for anything related to outdoor activities and, of course, that includes all types of bikes. At the same time, COVID has disrupted supply chains causing a real lag in meeting demand. For the sake of the planet, let’s hope that the demand keeps growing for all the reasons mentioned and, as we come out of COVID, the supply issues get smoothed out. However, in the short and even medium terms, continue to expect delays in delivery of the bikes and their parts. (You knew I’d bring it back here, right?)
In an article in Car and Driver “The Ride into Our Electric Future Will Be Led by Bikes, 2019”, it was predicted that 300 million electric bikes will be out on the world's roads by 2023. I get it. It’s the way to roll.