Many argue that oil producing countries like Canada cannot be both wealthy and nature-friendly and going green doesn’t make sense for resource rich nations. Other countries, however, have proved that a balance between economic growth and environmental awareness can be achieved.
What Norway Does
Norway has adopted a number of policies such as oil wealth management, high carbon taxes, and investment in innovation. In fact, the country ranks 4th in terms of environmental policies thanks to its good regulatory system. While Norway is a gas and oil producing country that generates carbon dioxide emissions, they are subject to tax. The nation also has one of the highest rates of renewable energy use, including hydroelectric energy. In addition, the government offers incentives to buyers of electric vehicles.
Norway also adopted legislation in areas such as municipal health, freshwater fish and wildlife, pollution controls, construction, and motorized vehicles.
What is more, the country’s approach to gas and oil wealth has been redistribution for the last 70 years. The government established a sovereign wealth fund and a government-owned energy company. It also introduced high carbon taxes accounting for up to 78 percent of the profits. The Government Pension Fund Global, which is the sovereign wealth fund, now holds assets worth $1 trillion CAD or $196,000 for each citizen. The government also invests oil profits into research and development, healthcare, and higher education. A major goal is to ensure that the energy sector is both competitive and green.
Does Going Green Make Sense for Canada?
It may come as surprise that Norway has a higher gross domestic product than Canada, fares better on innovation policies, and its economy is stronger and more competitive. Average income is also higher. Norway’s experience shows that resource rich countries can be prosperous while making active efforts to minimize damage to the environment. A report released by Canada’s Ecofiscal Commission confirms this. According to the commission, the provincial and territorial governments could raise substantial revenue by taxing different sources of pollution. British Columbia is a point in question. Between 2008 and 2013 its six-year-old carbon tax helped reduce greenhouse gas emissions by close to 13 percent without wreaking havoc on the economy.
Further Benefits of Adopting Sustainable Policies
There are further benefits for countries that choose a green approach, including innovation within all sectors of the economy, secured credit, job creation, and improved public health. The Business Case for the Green Economy report also shows that businesses enjoy benefits such as higher return on investment and savings and government financial incentives. Businesses that have adopted sustainable models and practices include corporate players such as AVIVA, Grupo Bimbo, Siemens, and Unilever. Grupo Bimbo, for example, implemented a water reduction program that resulted in substantial water savings (338,400 cubic meters), saving around $700,000. General Motors implemented a resource productivity program, resulting in 40 percent waste reduction and $30 million in savings in just 6 years. Other businesses that introduced green programs, systems, and products include giants such as General Motors, Puma, the Columbian Coffee Growers Federation, and Zhangzidao Fishery Group.
According to Unilever’s Chief Executive Officer Paul Polman sustainable development and economic growth can go hand in hand. A UNDP report also highlights the fact that sustainable policies and programs can be the basis for a successful business model, create growth opportunities and cost savings, and reduce risk.