Melissa Shin is deputy editor of Advisor Group. Before joining the team in 2011, Melissa was managing editor of Corporate Knights. She was awarded a Great Waters Fellowship by the Institute for Journalism and Natural Resources in 2010 and is a graduate of the Schulich School of Business at York University.

Philanthropy is dead?

Mere “balloons and t-shirts” initiatives just aren’t going to cut it today.

If the environment were a bank, we would have saved it already.

This amusing yet sobering socialist protest mantra illustrates the misguided view our markets take of the invisible economy—the environmental goods and services like clean air and water that quietly sustain us every day, for “free.”

Slowly, the world is starting to wake up to the reality that if we don’t protect our ecosystem services, we’ll lose them forever and have a huge bill on our hands. As a result, companies are starting to take environmental and social information into account, linking their executive pay to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria. Global financial news powerhouse Thomson Reuters has acquired ESG information provider ASSET4—who provided data for this ranking—to integrate its data into mainstream financial analysis. Similarly, Bloomberg’s 250,000-plus data terminals provide access to all the publicly available ESG data of over 3,000 companies, including Carbon Disclosure Project data and renewable energy use.

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Thirsty for answers

The tenth anniversary of the Walkerton water tragedy is in May. Has Canada learned its lesson?

Drinking water shouldn’t make you sick. But for several harrowing months ten years ago, turning on the tap in the farming town of Walkerton, Ontario meant risking exposure to a deadly strain of E. coli—o157:h7.

What happened that May has been well documented. After heavy rainfall washed bacteria from cattle manure into the town well, known for years to be vulnerable to contamination, residents began to experience bloody diarrhea, vomiting, cramps, and fever—all symptoms of E. coli.

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Boiling hot

Canada is sitting on a huge renewable, carbon-free energy source that works 24/7. So why aren’t we using it?

Imagine if all the oil rigs in Canada suddenly starting drilling for renewable energy.

With high-temperature geothermal energy, it’s possible. “The rig and personnel who drill for oil and gas can be the same rig and personnel who drill for geothermal,” says Alison Thompson, founder and chair of the Canadian Geothermal Energy Association (CanGEA), which now counts 30 companies, including Enbridge and Nexen, as members.

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Rendez-vous at the TSX

CK editors Toby Heaps and Melissa Shin caught up with legend of green David Suzuki at the Toronto Stock Exchange.

The Exchange is the central organ that breathes life into the economy, and one Suzuki has often exhorted for its blinkered assault on the environment.

But the “Suz’s” rendez-vous on Bay Street makes perfect sense. After all, the TSX is now home to more cleantech companies than any other exchange in the world. Many of these companies, like geothermal player Magma Energy, have the know-how to dramatically transform our society to live in greater harmony with the planet. The question is, will they do it from a Canadian base? The answer, Suzuki suggests, depends in large part on whether Canadians can believe in ourselves and think big—for a change.

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