Charting the path for SMEs to reach net-zero emissions

Canada has set a goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. Yet, how small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) — the backbone of our economy — can be leveraged to reach this necessary and ambitious goal has been largely overlooked. To help address this gap, Green Economy Canada, in partnership with the Pembina Institute, has launched the SME Net-Zero Pathways: Manufacturing pilot project.

Rodlin Instruments based in Peterborough — one of the businesses participating in the pilot.

Learning, Convening, Sharing

This pilot project has three phases. 

  1. Learning: In partnership with the Delphi Group, we’ll work with 10 SME manufacturers in Ontario, to analyze their operations and emissions sources to identify the changes necessary to achieve net-zero, and the costs, return on investments and co-benefits of implementing these changes. Simultaneously, the Pembina Institute will be analyzing the policy landscape to understand what programs currently exist to support SMEs to reduce their emissions. 
  2. Convening: Equipped with these findings, we’ll then host a roundtable discussion to bring together SME leaders, policymakers, academics and industry experts to collaborate and identify ways to support SMEs in the transition to a low-carbon economy.  
  3. Sharing: Finally, we’ll share our findings in a public campaign to inspire other Canadian manufacturers to aim for net-zero by illustrating tangible plans for how to achieve net-zero and the business case for taking action now.

We are currently working with a cohort of 10 businesses, which include: Almac Industrial Systems, Copernicus Educational ProductsC.R. Plastics Products, Heeman’s, London Brewing Co-operative, Onward Manufacturing Ltd, Reesor’s Markets, Riverside Natural Foods, Rodlin Instruments, and Walker Emulsions. These businesses are seeing a growing awareness of net-zero targets from customers, suppliers, competitors and regulators, but have indicated they need more guidance on how their own operations can reach net-zero and the business case to do so. This pilot will help them develop a net-zero roadmap and give them an opportunity to identify the supports they need to carry out the changes like specific policies from the government, green lending rates from financial institutions, peer-learning from similar businesses, and guidance to leverage and communicate their net-zero commitment to customers.

Share the Opportunity or Get Involved

If you want to learn more about the project, please email Danielle Laperriere at The final project report will be publicly launched in Fall 2021. We look forward to sharing the pathways we’ve identified for SMEs to contribute to Canada’s net-zero emissions targets and inspiring more businesses to lead in that effort.

The SME Net-Zero Pathways: Manufacturing pilot project is generously supported by the Echo Foundation, the Ivey Foundation, TD, and the Trottier Family Foundation.

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