My favourite year

Corporate Knights' Editor-in-Chief reflects on the (green) silver linings of 2020

Lush green forest and modern sky

The familiar joys of the festive season are muted this year by fears surrounding the pandemic and the sputtering economy. In the background, many of us still hear the ticking time bomb of climate change.

Just maybe, however, 2020 will go down as the year we started getting things right. Science broke all speed records for developing effective vaccines. The United States elected a president with the greenest agenda ever. Solar emerged as the least expensive energy source in history. And more political and business leaders are recognizing that society’s vulnerability to COVID-19 is rooted in longstanding inequities and harmful behaviours that are finally being addressed.

All these trends, unexpectedly, helped make 2020 a banner year for Corporate Knights – and for anyone who cares about sustainability and social justice. As we continued our reporting and advocacy, we’ve seen several major advances this year:

  • Our Building Back Better roundtable series last spring – masterfully moderated by the unflappable Diana Fox Carney – brought together a host of leaders in business, labour, science and government to explore innovative ways to spark a “green recovery.” The ideas put forth by our numerous experts – in energy, manufacturing, agriculture, construction, transportation and so much more – coalesced into an ambitious summary report whose proposals were endorsed by business leaders across all major sectors and are now seeping into policy agendas on both sides of the Atlantic. A short video of the Canada we could have by 2030 if we act boldly in the coming months and years can be viewed here.
  • This fall we launched a follow-up roundtable series, Building Back Better Together, in partnership with the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Canada. This alliance demonstrates the growing international interest in collaborating on climate issues, and we can’t wait to see how this trend grows as the United States rejoins the Paris Climate Agreement. 
  • To commemorate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, we worked with Earth Day Canada and the Earth Day Initiative in the U.S. to produce the first-ever Green 50: Top business moves that helped the planet. Our list celebrated such game-changing events as Toyota’s launch of the first mass-produced hybrid car and Ontario’s decision to ban coal-fired power plants (still the world’s single largest GHG-reduction measure). Our goal parallelled that of Earth Day itself, as described to us by the movement’s founder, Denis Hayes: “To try to create enough pressure on governments and companies around the world to be aggressive in their [climate action] leadership.”
  • The lockdown also opened a door for us to launch virtual Corporate Knights roundtables, building up a community of more than 5,000 engaged citizens, business leaders and public policy leaders who invested thousands of hours to explore and define the “angel in the details” of what it will take to build back better as we emerge from the pandemic pause. This year’s roundtables culminated in a fireside chat featuring Margaret Atwood, Sheila Watt-Cloutier, and David Suzuki, who offered a rousing call to action to take a moonshot at being the first to land a net-zero-emissions economy. 

Enough about us. I’d like to thank you for your support of Corporate Knights. Your engagement with our magazine, our events, our website and YouTube channel, and with our partners and advertisers is what enables us to go out every day and fight for sustainability and prosperity for Canada, the world and our children’s children. As the race to a zero-emissions economy speeds up and the climate threat grows, the perspective that government and science and business are all in this together is more timely and relevant than ever. We thank you for your support in 2020 and look forward to a more prosperous 2021 – the year we all begin to Build Back Better.

Happy New Year,

Toby Heaps

Founder and Publisher, Corporate Knights

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